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Dealership diagnostic fees

 
 
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 09:46 am
Anyone ever wondered why dealerships charge so much just to do a diagnosis on your car?

Here's my issue(s):

(1) Back in 2021 the AC went out on my 2008 Lincoln Navigator. I wasn't worried about it at the time so I pushed that repair off. It was blowing warm. I took it to a Firestone shop and they told me I had a leak in my condenser and to fix the problem it would run me $900 "to start". I opted not to have the work done and decided to do it later. This year it was still on my mind to get the AC back up and running until I heard a noise coming from under the hood. After some self-diagnosis I figured out it was one of my belt pulley wheels going bad. Took it back to Firestone who told me I was right. The pulley wheel on the AC compressor was going bad. So now we have an issue with the condenser and the compressor. After negotiating the fee I had Firestone put in a new compressor and condenser for around $1500 and they said that would fix my issues and get my AC back up and running. The ride ran cool for about 2 weeks and then started blowing warm again. Took it back to Firestone and they did another check to say that the system was now leaking from the evap core which is located somewhere behind the dashboard and they couldn't do that work because they'd have to take the entire dash and steering wheel out. So now I'm back to having no AC.

(2) Later in the year 2021 my driver's side window regulator cable broke so I couldn't let the window down. I ordered a new regulator from Amazon and put it in myself and the window worked fine . . . . for about 6 or 8 months. A few months ago the window wouldn't go down again. I check the reviews on Amazon and a number of people reviewed the item saying it lasted a few weeks or a few months then the motor went out on the unit. I contacted the seller who told me I had a warranty on the unit and they would ship me a replacement regulator but the item is currently on back order and they don't know how long it'll be before it's back in stock to ship. That's been about 2 months now. Still waiting on the replacement regulator. So now I have an AC system that isn't working and a driver's side window that won't go down.

(3) A little more than a month ago I was driving and I noticed the car was idling very rough when I pull up to a stop light or stop sign. Shortly after that the check engine light came on. I took it back to Firestone and they pulled the codes and said it was a timing issue and the timing chain needs to be replaced. However, they don't do that work. This is the 2nd time I've taken my SUV to them and they "couldn't" do the work. Why promote yourself as a repair shop if you can't do things?

At this point I decided to just take my ride to the dealership. I knew it was going to be a little more expensive but I'd know the work was done right. Dropped it off last night and the dealership called me a little while ago to go over what was on the ticket. I told him I needed to find out why it was idling rough and the check engine light was on. Plus I wanted a quote on replacing the evap core and the window regulator. The dealership tech said that for each diagnosis it would be $160 a piece. Ok, that's almost $500 just to tell me what's wrong which I think is a bit high. He said he could knock off one of the fees and drop the diagnosis fee down to $320 which I still thought was a bit much. The check engine issue I have no idea so to me that is the only one that requires some work to fully diagnose. The other two issues I know what's wrong and just need a quote on replacing them. It's not like I took my truck in and said "my AC isn't cooling and I don't know why" or "I don't know why my window won't go down." The AC evap and window regulator needs to be replaced so how much will you charge to do that work?

Am I wrong here? If you tell them what's wrong and they still want to charge you to confirm it why is that a valid charge.
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 326 • Replies: 9
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 10:05 am
That's where the dealerships make all their money. I watched several videos on car dealer scams because my husband bought a new car. and that's no. 1 on the list.

Where they make their money is not on the sale, it's on all the extras and maintenance. If your car is that old, it's no longer under warranty and I would take it elsewhere. Seriously. They wanted to charge nearly $200 for a simple oil change and I suggested the guy I go to and it was $95. It's just an oil change which wouldn't affect the warranty whatsoever.

Go elsewhere.
Barry2021
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 10:32 am
@Mame,
Yeah, I feel you. I'm pretty handy and mechanically inclined and I can usually replace certain things myself. Not to hard to put in an alternator, a starter, change the spark plugs or replace the battery. Changing oil is one thing I've NEVER paid anyone to do for me. I do that myself. My SUV has 4 cigarette lighter ports installed and I've switched all out with the exception of one and installed double USB ports. I don't smoke and I don't allow anyone to smoke in my car so I don't need cigarette lighter ports. But what I do need are USB charging ports for my phone any other device. My stuff charges beautifully now. Anyway, I say that to get to there are some thing I just can't do. And I do tend to take my truck to a place like Firestone, AAA, or even a dealership just for the sake of getting a warranty on the work. Again, I told them the two things that need to be fixed so they shouldn't require a diagnostic fee. Just tell me how much the part is and how much the dealership will charge to replace them. The check engine issue is something different. That's like going to a tire shop and telling them you need 4 tires and they charge you to see what you need above the cost of the tires, mounting, balancing, etc. One of two things I desperately need. Either a driver's side window that will go up and down so some air can come in or a working AC system. Just tell me how much it's going to cost for you to do the work, parts, labor, etc. That doesn't require you to check it first because I already know what's wrong with it.

Yeah the SUV is a few years old but it's worth getting those items fixed. It's not breaking down every few days or weeks, I'm not having to jump start it to get it running. It's not smoking going down the road. The temp gauge isn't running hot nor is it overheating. It's still a fairly good ride. Even with the engine issue. Once you pull off from the stop light the car runs really well. It could just be a sensor going bad. I'd rather put some money into getting it fixed than to start over with car payments for the next 4, 5, or 6 years.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 10:40 am
@Barry2021,
Yeah, if you're aware of what's wrong with it, they don't need to diagnose, for sure.

Those dealer scam videos also talked about the Engine Light - it's a problem in many, many cars and most often means nothing. You could try googling or searching on youtube for your make and model and see what they say before spending big bucks on this. Often, according to the previous car salesmen, they'll make something up.

I'd really recommend watching some of those videos. And ones about engine lights.

Good luck.

And I would do our own oil changes but I don't have a ramp. We both drive small cars and a ramp is a necessity.
Barry2021
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 11:12 am
@Mame,
I actually have one of those scan tools which reads codes and things and that has come in handy for a number of years. Typically those things don't tell you exactly what the problem is but it'll give you a general idea what to look at.

I'll check those videos out, thanks. Ramps are fairly cheap to purchase. And an oil pan to catch the oil. You can get a set of ramps at Walmart for as little as $40 so again, not a big price for something you will use on the regular. I tried teaching my step-sons how to change their own oil years ago when they first started getting cars and they just weren't interested. So now they take their cars to shops and are charged upwards of $50+ for an oil change.

Exactly, "I need this replaced and that repaired. What's the cost for parts and labor?" No diagnosis check needed. I even told the guy when I talked to him I had already gotten it diagnosed and that was the problem. Must be human nature where when you tell someone something they don't believe you and have to see for themselves. The AC in our house wasn't cooling like it should and so I went outside and noticed that the unit wasn't even turning on. I went inside turned off the unit and let it sit for a few minutes thinking it just needed to be reset or something. Then when I turned it back on still nothing. I told the wife it wasn't working properly and called the maintenance guy to come out and check. She just had to turn it on to see for herself. I guess the fact that the temp in the house was 80 degrees wasn't enough for her.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 11:18 am
@Barry2021,
We're not allowed to do it on the street, which is where we have to park. I'd have to borrow someone's driveway. Thanks for the reminder to check my oil. I'll do that as soon as this monsoon passes.

I love youtube for that reason - videos on simply everything.

Here are a couple for you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-uJkoOL8oM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mytla-47R1g
Barry2021
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 01:05 pm
@Mame,
I guess I must be lucky enough to have a driveway. That's where a lot of my work gets done.

Thanks for those links, I'll check them out.

Here's something else to ponder. Several weeks ago when I called the dealership to set up a time to bring my truck in they were only doing things by appointment. So I've had to limit driving my SUV for fear of doing any additional damage on it. The girl set up an appointment for 5/30. A week or so later I realized that was Memorial Day and I called to check and see if the dealership was going to be open. The girl I spoke with checked and said the dealership was open but not the service dept. So when I asked when the next available appointment was she said 6/15. So that pushed me out another couple of weeks. Dropped it off last night and even left the Firestone paperwork on the passenger seat where they say the evap core needs to be replaced. They called me this morning at 7:30 to confirm everything. My appt was set for 7:30 AM today. It's now almost 3 PM and I've not heard a thing. I called them around 2:30 when I went to lunch and the guy said that he's not heard anything yet. So from 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM (6 good hours) you mean to tell me that the dealership can't figure out what's going on? I called and the guy said he'd check with the tech and call be back. Again, that was 30 minutes ago and still no call.

I know these can't be compared but say you have an appointment with your doctor at 8 AM and you get there on time but you are told to wait 6 hours before the doc comes in OR the doc runs a few tests and you go back to the waiting room. 6 hours later you're waiting on the results. This is why some people hate mechanics and dealership service departments. One time I took my car to Firestone and they had it all day. My wife took me to the shop roughly 20 minutes before they closed and the two guys were just standing there talking. He finally looks at me and says, "I'll be with you in just a minute." He dials a number on his phone and guess who's phone rings? Yep mine. I think they just take their time at service shops and dealerships to make you think they're just actively working on your car. But typically when you drop your car off at a specific time when you have an appointment they will push your car to the side because somebody wants to sit and wait on their car. Your car is made to wait.
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Barry2021
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 02:00 pm
Finally the guy from the dealership calls me and leaves a message at 3:55 saying that his guy wasn't able to look at my truck today but he would do it first thing in the morning. My question is this. Why did I set up and appointment for 7:30 AM this morning if your guy wasn't even able to look at it all day?

Now I didn't expect them to pull my truck in right at 7:30 but by 8, 9 or even 10 AM someone could have called. He tells me that my appointment time doesn't mean that's when they'll look at it that just means that's the time I'm scheduled to drop it off. So let me get use this analogy again. You schedule an appointment with your doctor to see you at 8. You go at 7:45 to check in and they you sit there all day not seeing anyone. When you ask the receptionist about this she says "your appointment was at 8 but that didn't mean you would be seen at 8. That's just when we wanted you here. The doctor doesn't come in till 9 and he was finishing up patients from yesterday." This is why people hate repair shops. He did say they had pulled it into the bay but haven't had a chance to look at it. Why pull it in just to park it and go back to someone else's car?
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 02:33 pm
@Barry2021,
Some auto parts place.s will also do this scan for no charge but it is like youbs.aid they can get a general idea but not specifics.

I think the most important thing is to find a reliable independent mechanic. I had a big issue once on an older car ...it wasn't that old but just past warranty..the dealership said it would be this huge amount to fix...I brought it to this mechanic and he said the car isn't worth putting all that money in it...the dealership wasn't wrong just he said all I need to do is cut off the rusty sections and then this and that..you don't have to replace the whole thing.

Voila at a fraction of the cost.

The dealership always goes with the brand new factory built parts and replace all...rather than rebuilt or just solve that one piece. In older cars it isn't worth it.
Barry2021
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2022 02:59 pm
@Linkat,
Yeah, I feel you. I just think that, to me, if a car can be fixed . . . fix it. I've already dropped $1500 on the new AC compressor and condenser which I was told would solve my problem or at least that problem. It didn't because now there's another leak. Why Firestone didn't test the full system when they did the work, I don't know. Again, I bought the truck a few years ago and it's been very beneficial to me and my wife. Packed my daughter up from college, hauled large things that wouldn't fit in her car. Then it's just nice and roomy. No major issues up to this point other than just normal wear and tear items. A fuel pump, a battery, and alternator. It's almost paid for in a few months and no I don't have any type of extended warranty on it. Had I known 2 or 3 months ago when the AC work was done that the engine would have issues I would have held off on that repair. And yeah, I could have taken it to an independent guy to have them look at it but when you hear possible timing chain replacement the last thing I want to do is keep driving it around from shop to shop based on the recommendations of my buddies. Like I say, it's not stalling out, smoking, overheating. I change the oil regularly and don't dog it out on the highway. I just want it fixed.

The guy at the dealership did say that because of covid they have been understaffed and actually lost one of their mechanics last week. What I don't understand is how are so many places STILL understaffed? Where are all these mechanics working now? Fast food places only have or 3 people working inside so you have to wait much longer to get your lunch. Are these people just living off that extra covid relief package they got for unemployment and don't need to work? I'd much rather be working a descent job making a full paycheck than to sit at home all day living off what little bit of unemployment I had left. Fortunate for us, my wife and I haven't lost one day of work nor have we missed a paycheck. Our jobs transitioned us both to work from home. I still just don't see how so many places are just completely understaffed.
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