Originally Posted by Gonzilla
What you need is to find an honest mechanic. Honda replaced the first Belt 90-100k. Now I'm 157K miles but they say it must be changed every 6 yrs. (Heat, Cold, Torq, etc.) wanted $634 to replace caliper,etc - I found a relatively honest man who did everything plus 150K service for a lot less. Honda wanted $1,080 for Timing Belt.
VikingDad - Honda charged me $538 for valve adj. My other mech said they hosed me. True/False ? If Honda went w chain over existing belt - would a break be as destructive ?
As a consumer, who do you trust ?
I have worked at a couple of dealerships as well as a few independent shops. Currently I am at an independent. The dealerships are in it for one thing, to part you from your money. The independents I have worked for have been the more trustworthy mainly because you can always ask to talk to the mechanic directly, something that the dealer always tries to avoid. You talk to the service writer and if the customer has a question for the mechanic it gets asked by the writer, and then he interprets the mechanics answer in whatever way he chooses so as to make the most money.
The independents I have worked for use factory parts for almost everything, as long as they are still available. I always recommend that you stick with factory parts. They cost more, but 90%+ of the time they are better.
Who would I trust more? The one that allows you to talk directly to the mechanic. Mechanics by and large are not out to stick it to you. But they are encouraged to "upsell" stuff on your car by the writers and the service manager. I have had writers upsell stuff that I did not recommend on cars that I have worked on before, giving the repair order to someone else so as to avoid me finding out. That is ripping off the customer. If I recommended it then it should be done, but if the service writer recommends it he is just trying to get your money. I have seen where they will recommend parts that have recently been replaced before.
$1080 for a timing belt on an Accord? I can see that if it is a V6, but for the 4 cylinder it is outrageous. The parts for the V6 come to probably $500 or thereabouts. It is not a quick job, but I can do it in maybe an hour. Flat rate is probably 3 hours or more. I would have to check. Sometimes they will add outrageous time for add-ons such as the water pump (should always be changed when the T-belt is done) or the tensioners and idler pullies (I always replace those on my cars too).
Look around for a good, reputable independent shop that uses factory parts by default and will let you talk to the mechanic. If the owner is at the shop every day working too that is another good sign.
And Trip, you should check your extended service contract. The dealers will always tell you that you must go to them for the contract to remain valid but that is not always true- matter of fact it is rarely true. The extended warranties are written by an independent company, not the manufacturer. The independents I have worked for accept extended warranties.
Another thing that many people don't know is that dealerships generally make more money in the service department for out-of-warranty work and general service work and used car sales than they do on the new cars including new car warranty work. The profit margin on a new car is very small, maybe even so small as to only cover expenses really. They make big bucks on financing, extended warranties (especially when the customer doesn't use it), accessories, detailing (that protective coating crap they sell you is the same stuff you can get at and auto parts store or detailing shop, the carpet and fabric protectant is pretty much just Scotch Guard or a variant).
Last dealer job I had I was there for a couple of years and Acura came out with the MDX SUV. I ordered one as soon as we got a couple through our shop, knowing Honda/Acura quality and that if anything happened I could take care of it under warranty before it expired. The General Manager (a dirty rotten scoundrel) insisted that if I wanted to order one I would have to pay the $3,000 premium that they were charging customers rather than the 10% employee discount that I was told we would be charged for a new car when I started working there (that amounted to about $4,500 under list). So I went to the new car sales manager (a really good guy) and told him to order me one, and I was only going to pay the employee discounted price. He asked me if I was going to put a down payment on it and I pulled a quarter out of my pocket and gave him that. He taped the quarter to the new car order board under my name. Since these cars were so popular, it took 4 months before mine came it, it was a few days before Christmas. In that 4 months the sales staff had been finding loose change in the parking lot, etc., and they had taped that up to add to my "down payment", making it something like $2.86.
I get the call that my car has arrived and is ready for pick-up. Went in to pay for it and as the finance manager (a little flesh-ripping weasel of a guy) was writing up the invoice the General Manager walks in and was hovering over us. The FM asks how we are going to finance it and I said we weren't, we were writing a check for the grand total. Then the GM chimes in and says "Don't forget to add the $3,000 premium over list" and I said no deal, I was only paying the employee price of list less 10% and if he wanted to argue about it he could argue with the owner. Now, the GM knew that the owner and I were pretty tight, but he wasn't there at the time and wasn't going to be back until after New Years. The month-end receipts are very important, especially at the end of the year, so he knew that if he had to wait for the owner to get back my car would not show up on the receipts for 2000, it would go on the 2001 receipts.
He stewed a bit and then said I had to at least finance it and get the extended warranty. I said no deal. I would be doing all warranty work myself anyhow, so why would I pay someone else for me to work on my car? I also declined any accessories (same deal, I could order them at the employee discount and install them myself).
I asked the finance manager what was the total bill, including tax, license and title fees. He gave me a number (I think it was around $48K) and then I told him to deduct my down payment
. The General Manager was mad enough to eat railroad spikes and spit nails. He stood there when I wrote out a check for the whole amount, less my $2.86 "down payment" and paid it in full on the spot.
Still have that car too. I have done all of the work on it and it still runs great.
Oh, and I was bluffing a little bit about talking to the owner. I had not cleared anything with him at all beforehand. I just knew he was out of town for the holidays and wouldn't be back until after the New Year.
I did know that he would not have charged me the premium though.