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Never, EVER go to the dealer for work

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Killick, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    It's pretty common knowledge, but it bears repeating: Never, ever ever have work done on your car at a dealership. My latest lesson reinforcer - I've got a 97 Buick LeSabre, and the automatic window switch has gone the way of the dodo. So, I call the local auto parts guy looking for a replacement and he tells me it's listed in his catalog as "dealer only." Dreading the call, I place it anyway and ask how much for the part, how much to have them replace it. The answer I get: the switch is $78 plus tax, and labor will probably tack another $100 onto the bill.

    To replace a switch.

    So, I go out on the 'net. Find a business in Atlanta that bills itself as the "Switch Doctor." Heh. Cute. Find the switch, and their price is $25. Go out to my car, start monkeying around and figure out how to get to the switch. It's fairly easy, actually. So, I go with the Switch Doctor, will be getting the part in two days for a little over $30 (with shipping).

    Dealer (buncha highway robbery assholes): At least $180.
    DIY: $30.85 + about 30 minutes of my time.
     
  2. Brooklyn Bridge

    Brooklyn Bridge Active Member

    Same goes for replacing your head/tail lights. Was able to get a bunch of replacements from the local autoparts store and an hour later had em all done.
     
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine asked me about my 10-year-old Toyota and whether I was having any problems, because he had just gotten back from the dealership with a $1,600 bill for his similarly aged car and was wondering whether to make the investment or just get a new car. I told him to forget the dealership and sent him to our local, family-owned repair shop. Their estimate: $105. He even asked about some of the stuff Toyota told him was essential, and the mechanic scoffed and said those things were completely unnecessary. At the very least, my friend owes me a couple rounds of pizza for that one.

    It's the dirty little secret of the car business: They really don't make all that much money off the car you buy. It's the after-market that's gold for them.
     
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I had my power window switch on my 2000 Sentra changed out two years ago when it went bad at a local repair place my then-roommate used. It was also walking distance from my house (key, since they'd have my car). It was $175 with labor. It's $65 an hour, usually for labor. So the dealer wasn't that much worse than anyplace else you'd take it, and I sure as shit can't fix a window switch by myself. Or rather, I won't.
     
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I'm about the least mechanically inclined person you'll ever meet, and even I can change my own headlights. They just plug right in.

    Being willing to do little things like that for yourself can add up to quite a lot of money in the long run.
     
  6. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    My local Chevy place is so hard-up for business they're offering $19.95 lube / oil changes with coupon. That's almost as cheap as Wal-Mart, and I will trust a dealership to change the filter. And a hella lot less hassle than changing your own.

    For everything else designed to be replaced, I do my own work. Even my brake pads, but they're disc brakes and they're a breeze. I only go to the mechanic for something major.
     
  7. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    My dad owns his own car repair place. Too bad it's a 2½ drive for me. Recently had whatever it is that keeps your steering wheel from flopping up and down snap on my car. There was no problem with the steering. It's just that the wheel wouldn't stay in place unless it was tilted all the way down. It was OK to drive, but I didn't want to for too long.

    Took it to a place around me where a buddy works in the service department. After he wanted to charge me $80 for a diagnostic check, the mechanic decided I needed a new steering column which was around $600. No thanks.

    I figured a 2½ hour drive was safe enough to make to save over $600. My dad replaced the pin that was broke in minutes.

    Suck it, dealer.
     
  8. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Killick, One of my proudest days. ... I had an old Honda until a year ago. Total city car. It was slowly falling apart. The master switch (although I didn't know that was what it was), which controlled the auto windows, locks, doors, went bad. I ask the local mechanic how much to fix. Same thing. Ridiculous quote, I can't remember what it was, but I think he wanted a few hundred dollars part and labor. The car was on its last legs and I had already sunk more into it than it was worth.

    He did tell me it needed a new master switch, same deal, ridiculous price on just the part. So I went to the Internet and found a used master switch on eBay for my model of car for less than $20 plus shipping. The thing came and I only had the foggiest notion of what to do with it. But I went out to the street with a bunch of tools, took the door panel apart, removed the old switch and plate, put the new one in and kept good track of which wires went where. It took me a while, because they put a zillion unnecessary screws in those door panels (presumably to discourage people like me from trying to do work like this themselves), but the new switch worked and I got it all put back together the way it was before I did the work. Total cost: About $25, and some strange looks from people because I did the work while parked on a city street. I was blown away by the fact that I was taking a car apart and at least two cops drove by and didn't stop.
     
  9. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Going to a dealer for work = leaning back and pretending to enjoy it.

    Avoid. At. All. Costs.
     
  10. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    The only think I will change by myself is my car radio stations.
     
  11. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    As the son of a car dealer, I suggest the only time you go to the dealer is if you're getting warranty work done. Or if you've got an odd foreign make that local shops aren't qualifier to wrench on, like a Saab or Volvo.
     
  12. Pilot

    Pilot Active Member

    That reminds me of one of the many giant screwjobs dealerships have going.

    Ever disconnect your battery and enable the theft deterrent system in your car radio? Can't turn it on in any way shape or form (the radio, CD, Ipod connection ... nothing) until you insert a special secret code? Since I've never bought a new car, I've never known said code. So you have to go to a dealership. Some guy writes down my serial number, calls it in to Pontiac headquarter (or somewhere ... I really, really didn't trust the guy) and comes back with a $60 bill and the code to unlock my radio.

    I only half believe he actually called Pontiac, and only half believe it really should cost that much. The guy made the call on his cell phone. I think he was taking me for a ride, but it's almost impossible for me to drive with my car radio, so, bend over. Bring the lube.
     
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