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Overpaying car dealership for repairs
Old 03-16-2008, 07:08 PM   #1
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Overpaying car dealership for repairs

I have a 2000 Lexus ES300. For the most part, I've enjoyed driving it. However, I am really tired of being overcharged by the Lexus dealership for every little repair. The car is built so that many parts are not accessible to other mechanics (ie. takes special keys or tools to open). To make it possible for Tires Plus to change the tires, I had to pay the Lexus dealership $80 to get rid of the "locks" on the tires. Last weekend I paid over $100 to change two light bulbs.

Has anyone else run into this? What can I do to end this forced excessive spending? (Other than going for a Toyota or Honda the next round)
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:15 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by GoodSense View Post
I have a 2000 Lexus ES300. For the most part, I've enjoyed driving it. However, I am really tired of being overcharged by the Lexus dealership for every little repair. The car is built so that many parts are not accessible to other mechanics (ie. takes special keys or tools to open). To make it possible for Tires Plus to change the tires, I had to pay the Lexus dealership $80 to get rid of the "locks" on the tires. Last weekend I paid over $100 to change two light bulbs.

Has anyone else run into this? What can I do to end this forced excessive spending? (Other than going for a Toyota or Honda the next round)
You own a lexus. You can pay for the luxury. That is what they think. Rust buckets 30K that sit out in the rain and get rusty. Lose value etc.
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:22 PM   #3
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Yeah, the car was an acquisition during a previous career in real estate in which luxury cars are a symbol of success and a near necessity. Even though I'm not in the business anymore, to trade it in for something else is probably going to cost me more. When gas hits $5 a gallon it will really hurt...
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:32 PM   #4
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Yeah, the car was an acquisition during a previous career in real estate in which luxury cars are a symbol of success and a near necessity. Even though I'm not in the business anymore, to trade it in for something else is probably going to cost me more. When gas hits $5 a gallon it will really hurt...

Kbb trade in value 2000 es300 with 125K miles is 5300 dollars. You could buy a new 2008 Honda civic 4 door LX for 17400 right now. 12K out of pocket.
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:21 PM   #5
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:24 PM   #6
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To make it possible for Tires Plus to change the tires, I had to pay the Lexus dealership $80 to get rid of the "locks" on the tires.
How would you have changed a flat tire? Usually they will give you the socket for the lock. If they didn't, you got screwed. If they did, and you lost it, you paid the penalty for being careless. In any case, I'd never drive a car anywhere far from home that I couldn't change the tire on.
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:40 PM   #7
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One thing I didn't realize that is done by many dealers - I found out the hard way.

I took my car into the dealer and asked for the x0,000 mile maintenance (30,60,90, etc). They quoted me something like $300. So I get the car back and the next day I'm under the hood for some reason and the cracked plastic overflow coolant tank cap that I had duct taped a month or so ago was still there and untouched! And a coolant change was part of the maintenance! How could they have not done anything about this!? Another item on the maintenance schedule was the air filter - so I undid the clamps and the air filter was unchanged and dirty!

I was pissed. So I called the dealership. Long story short -- THEY decided what to do on the maintenance. They didn't do a few things that were on the schedule, but they DID manage to do a number of non-recommended (high profit) things that WERE NOT on the maintenance schedule. It has become obvious to me that you need to be EXPLICIT about what you want done (and not done).

I later read in an Edmund's posting that even the editors who drive their long-term test cars make a copy of the maintenance manual and when they take the car in for service they say "Do EXACTLY and ONLY the items on this list".

I now avoid dealer service (for all makes) at all costs unless a) it's under warranty; or b) it's so specialized a repair that I must take it to the dealer.

Watch out especially for dealers telling you that you need things that are not recommended service. I also had a dealer try to get me to do the timing belt change at 60K even though the owner's manual said 90K.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:08 PM   #8
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RunningBum, I am the second owner of the car. This is the first luxury car I've owned so had no idea of all the caveats. Newguy, I did think about trading in but if I can get another 5 years out of this car it's probably more economic to keep than selling it for $5K. I think my next car will probably be a Civic, Prius or Fit. DH owns a Honda Civic and it's been an excellent car. I like the Fit because you can fold down the backseat and carry bigger stuff than most small cars.

Thanks, Surfdaddy, for the story and advice. Car maintenance is one area that I don't really know much about, so I am learning slowly. I guess Car Talk is more entertainment than educational.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:12 PM   #9
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Their job is to sell, sell, sell.

Your job is to be smart enough to avoid them whenever possible.

Find a good local mechanic instead.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:48 PM   #10
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I would contact the mfr. Most are very sensitive to this sort of complaint and the dealerships I use would be horrified at getting a negative on thier CSI.

GoodSence, I would expect a decent tire shop (even Tires Plus) to be more "resourceful".
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:23 AM   #11
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With dealers the cash is in the service bays.
With Lexus and a few others, those service bays are where the gold is.
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by GoodSense View Post
I have a 2000 Lexus ES300. For the most part, I've enjoyed driving it. However, I am really tired of being overcharged by the Lexus dealership for every little repair. The car is built so that many parts are not accessible to other mechanics (ie. takes special keys or tools to open). To make it possible for Tires Plus to change the tires, I had to pay the Lexus dealership $80 to get rid of the "locks" on the tires. Last weekend I paid over $100 to change two light bulbs.

Has anyone else run into this? What can I do to end this forced excessive spending? (Other than going for a Toyota or Honda the next round)
It's been quite awhile since I was in the auto industry, but here's a few thoughts:

1)ALL dealers have a big monthly overhead expense to meet, so that's a big reason WHY their hourly rates are through the roof.

2)With PREMIUM brands like Lexus, the entire supply chain process is controlled by the factory. Fact is, the powertrain of the ES300 and the Toyota Avalon are EXACTLY the same, but who pays more for service? The Lexus guy...........

3)Every larger town has a few quality import independent mechanic. Ask around and you will find one. I have one that can do most basic stuff on anything, but if it gets over their head they refer me to a specialized indie mechanic.

4)A Toyota or Honda costs less to repair than a Lexus or Acura, and that's not going to change anytime soon..........
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Old 03-17-2008, 09:52 AM   #13
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...A Toyota or Honda costs less to repair than a Lexus or Acura, and that's not going to change anytime soon..........

Even though, for example, the Toyota Highlander has basically the same inside architecture as the Lexus RX300 with different shells.
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:57 AM   #14
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The car is built so that many parts are not accessible to other mechanics (ie. takes special keys or tools to open).
i found the same issue with the t-bird. couldn't even get the oil changed without going to the freaking dealership. i hadn't even thought to check on something as silly as that before i bought. i'm still surprised i was able get air in the tires all on my own. oh well, you know the old saying: get robbed and learn.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:12 AM   #15
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I own a Lexus SUV (GX 470) and I ROTATE my all 5 of my wheels (every 5K miles/if you go to Lexus they only rotate 4 ground wheels), using the wheel lock key inside of the wheel changing tools that came with the car. I also change my own oil, wiper blades, air filters, passenger compartment filter, etc. I also use 87 Octane gas (if you ask Lexus they say use hi-test - but Toyota (which is the same engine) says you can use 87 Octane. I have done all of this for years on every car I have owned. This sort maintenance has no negative impact on the power train warranty. I have never seen any barriers to doing my own maintenance an any car I owned (not saying there aren't any but I would not take any dealer's word for it, after all, they all make big money doing maintenance they can convince you that you can't. Previous car to this one was a Acura RL.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:15 AM   #16
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4)A Toyota or Honda costs less to repair than a Lexus or Acura, and that's not going to change anytime soon..........
Toyota repair? What is that

(A happy Solara owner with almost 8 repair-free years under my belt)
(and no dealer servicing in my case, but make your own decision on that)
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:32 AM   #17
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When we owned an Acura Integra and a Honda Civic, everything (e.g. tune-up) cost 2-3 times more for the Acura, even at the same repair shop.

Consumer Reports has started having a total cost of ownership section for cars -- good idea.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:35 AM   #18
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I spotted that dealership maintenance scam right away on the 30, 60, 90K "maintenance programs". Reading the list of things they did, most of it was merely inspection of visible components like belts, hoses, fluid levels, etc. that most people can do on their own. So I figured that they wanted me to pay about $300 for a 20-minute checkover.

This on nothing exotic, a 2003 Buick Century and a 2003 GMC Sierra pickup truck. So I found what seems to be a good independent shop to to the repairs that I can't do.

I just bought the filters and 10 quarts of oil today to do the oil changes on them in the next few weeks. It doesn't really save much if anything doing it myself but I like to take the opportunity to look at the insides of the tires, brake lines, steering & suspension, anything leaking, etc. And sometimes it's just good to get my hands dirty.
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Old 03-17-2008, 11:37 AM   #19
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To all those who think you need to go to the dealer, FIND A GOOD MECHANIC. Don't believe the hype. 99% of jobs can be done by an independent. Sometimes there are special tools. for example BMW has a special tool or removing the oil filter. That tool costs $25. Compare that to the $115 they charge for an oil change and the $50 it would cost to have it changed at another shop (full syn).

I know it's hard to believe, but there is nothing so special about a Lexus that means a mechanic can't work on it.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:00 PM   #20
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I just bought the filters and 10 quarts of oil today to do the oil changes on them in the next few weeks. It doesn't really save much if anything doing it myself but I like to take the opportunity to look at the insides of the tires, brake lines, steering & suspension, anything leaking, etc. And sometimes it's just good to get my hands dirty.
Plus when you do it yourself you know what oil is going in and how much of it, you know everything is tightened down correctly, you probably won't leave grease on the steering wheel and you don't need to strip the car of all those goodies that may be ripped off during the oil change.

That said, I occasionally take the beast in to get the grease job done...That part is not worth the hassle to me.
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