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Old 08-27-2015, 05:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Greed, fraud and incompetence

Here's the story. A Gen1 Insighter lady called me and asked me if $1900 was a fair price for a clutch job. I said NO! Why? Well, to make a long story short she was having trouble getting it into gear and took it to Pickering Honda east of Toronto. She was told that it needed a clutch and- get this- a clutch slave cylinder! I told her not to go ahead and went out to pick it up using a tow dolly.

While I was loading it a young mechanic from the dealership was hanging around drooling over the car. We got talking and he said if the car ever came up for sale to let him know. When I told him I had a $1000 Insight for sale that needed a lot he was very interested and didn't care about the mechanical problems which included rotten brake and gas lines. I quickly surmised that he was a racer-boy and he confirmed that he wanted to make a K-20 sleeper.

But I kept thinking about the diagnosis. If the clutch was bad why would a slave cylinder be on the parts list for the repair? They are two different systems and the odds of them failing at the same time are slim to none. Sure enough, when I got it in my garage I saw that the slave cylinder was leaking. I replaced the cylinder- that's all it needed.

So, please tell me I'm a paranoid cynic but this is what I think. I think that the mechanic badly wanted that very pretty car and that he thought if he made the bill very large the owner might trade it in. At that point he would jump all over it.

The service manager defended the mechanic's $130 diagnosis although he was a bit flustered when I pointed out that the mechanical part couldn't be tested without the hydraulic part working. The diagnosis was not logical.

But why would the dealership pressure her into getting a new car before the diagnosis and why defend an illogical diagnosis which included a requirement of, among other things, a new flywheel? To sour things further there was a $5 environmental charge on the bill for diagnosis. I think that $5 charge tells a lot and it isn't about their respect for the environment!

Should Pickering Honda go on the local list alongside the shysters at Oakville Honda?
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have a friend that works for a Mopar dealership and he says the mechanics there get no set wages whatsoever, what they earn is 100% based on a percentage of the problems they diagnose and repair. Thus, they are motivated to "fix" things that don't need fixing. He says pretty much all the repairs bills are inflated with repairs that didn't need to be done.
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Not only would that be an incentive to lie and cheat on the part of the employee but there would be no incentive for management to correct the problem. Just the opposite!
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Old 08-27-2015, 08:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Not only that, but they get paid on the Flat Rate manual. Any good mechanic can beat this by knowing what he is doing and/or taking shortcuts. I knew a guy who would get mad if he didn't have 40 hours by Wednesday.

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Old 08-27-2015, 08:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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On the other end of the scale, there is a one-man repair shop by my house that charges $60/hour, but takes the flat rate and divides it in half for actual charges, unless it takes more time. I do most of my own work, but if it's a really crappy job, I send it to him, and it's never take him more than 1/2 the flat rate time wise.

With that said, it would cost about 4X for the same job at any dealership.
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Old 08-27-2015, 05:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So the update on this sorry story is not good. The dealership supported their mechanic. I was told that given the mileage (190,000km) and the age of the car they thought that replacing the entire clutch system was the correct way to go.

They stand by that though they are refunding the estimate charge of $130. I should have asked the service manager if they plan the same thing for the next unsuspecting customer. Maybe I should have asked if they have management training (in ethics!).
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Old 08-27-2015, 08:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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When I was a mechanic at a Chrysler dealer that worked on other vehicles we did a lot of "while I am in there" type of work. We would give the customer the estimate both ways. To replace the throwout thingie its A, but we can do the clutch, pressure plate, throwout bearing, flywheel, etc for B more. Some people wanted to do B, some just wanted A.

Charging a diagnostic fee and applying it to service if performed helps to cut down on people wasting your time to check or verify problems for the owner for FREE to get the work done elsewhere or do it themselves.

The 2 honda dealers I visit keep the service and sales areas separate. Ive never been up sold a new car while bring one in for service. Likewise when I tell a salesman I need the parts dept as I enter the front entrance I am never upsold a new car either.



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Old 08-27-2015, 09:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhall View Post
So the update on this sorry story is not good. The dealership supported their mechanic. I was told that given the mileage (190,000km) and the age of the car they thought that replacing the entire clutch system was the correct way to go.

They stand by that though they are refunding the estimate charge of $130. I should have asked the service manager if they plan the same thing for the next unsuspecting customer. Maybe I should have asked if they have management training (in ethics!).
Put the bad slave into another Insight and get them to do an estimate on that one.

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Scott's front and rear springs
GAZ rear shocks
2003 Lean Burn CVT (Wife's car)
2000 Citrus with aerodynamic extension
2002 Blue getting new engine
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You're a paranoid cynic, but that doesn't mean you are wrong.

My experience with d/stealers in the last decade is they will not let you out the door without the bill hitting $1000. A dodge stealer recently tried to charge me $49 for a $15 Stant locking gas cap. They claimed "We recommend the Dodge OEM cap". Held them side-by-side, IT WAS A STANT! Identical. Stealer service rep didn't blink.

The 90% or more of Americans who don't do their own work are getting royally screwed by stealerships. Mr. Musk has the right idea: Put the sons-of-bitches out of business!
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Here's another one. In the end the 2003 Civic hybrid CVT had stripped splines on the flywheel. The Honda dealer reported that the 12v battery was dead and it needed a new battery in order to perform a diagnostic. Cost to the customer for that and that alone: $132.88 with tax.

I don't know about the US, the UK or other places but unemployment is growing here in Canada and the stats are being masked because discouraged workers are foraging on their own: no benefits, no pension, nothing- and certainly nothing in the way of security. These car dealers sell with the appearance of established integrity that comes with size and length of time in the market. They advertise a lot but also practice reverse advertising like dismissing the identical non-branded gas cap that member Fuelish mentions.

In the "Wheels"-type section of the newspaper articles label "Curbers" (people who sell cars for a living at the curbside) as low-life parasites out to rip you off. There are layers of taxes, certifications of all sorts and the threat of liability for anyone trying to resell a car. Everywhere you look the cards seem to be stacked against an unconnected independent.

If there is a moral to this sad story I think it is that we should all work to support small jobbers. It was nice to read all the support for member KLR3CYL on the board here recently. That's what we need.
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