By on August 3, 2016

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“Why,” the artist formerly known as Danger Girl snarled, waving a few stapled pages in the face of the frightened-looking, weasel-faced service advisor, “is there a balance payable on this?”

THE STORY SO FAR, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Boy meets girl. Boy takes girl for a date in a Rolls-Royce. Boy crashes car. Girl is almost killed. Girl gets better. Girl buys very famous and very tuned-up Fiesta ST. Girl autocrosses it a bunch of times and drives it around racetracks from Palm Springs to West Virginia. Boy and girl get married. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes, on, brah, as Paul Walker would say.

Now that we’re all caught up … Danger Girl has owned the Fiesta for five short months, but she’s already put nearly 12,000 miles on the car. The odometer reads just south of 28,000 miles. The Fiesta was put in service by Matt in December of 2013. What this means, nominally speaking, is that the car is still under Ford’s new-car bumper-to-bumper warranty until the odometer swings past 36,000 miles or the calendar flips into January of 2017.

The Fiesta’s been fairly trouble-free in DG’s hands, but there have been a few annoyances. The rear windshield-wiper relay is about as loud as John Bonham’s kick drum, making every wet-weather drive in this egg-shaped, relatively un-insulated car a remarkably faithful reproduction of the recording session for “When The Levee Breaks.” The keyless-entry system complains about low batteries in the remote even when new batteries are installed. And lately there’s been a discernible “clunk” in the right front corner on hard bumps.

When I changed the oil two weeks ago, I did a visual inspection of the front suspension and didn’t see anything obviously wrong. I know from experience that such an inspection is all you’re going to get out of a dealership tech when you complain about what sounds like a damaged or blown front shock. Still, we knew that we wouldn’t need the car during our vacation to Hilton Head last week, so I suggested to DG that she leave the car with the dealer and ask them to look into the three issues:

  • Bonzo relay
  • Truculent keyless entry
  • Clunky right front shock

While we were in South Carolina, DG got a call from the dealer. I was sitting on the beach at the time, so I had no idea the conversation had occurred, but it went like so:

Service Advisor: We’ve looked at your car.

Danger Girl: And?

Service Advisor: There’s nothing wrong with the right front shock.

Danger Girl: Okay.

SA: The relay thing — they all do that.

DG: Whatever.

SA: We changed the battery in the remote.

DG: Did that fix the problem?

SA: (Dead silence for thirty seconds) Uh, yeah.

DG: Alright then.

SA: We looked into the check engine light on your dash.

DG: I didn’t ask you to do that. I know why it’s on.

SA: You have an aftermarket exhaust that is sending a high level to the catalytic converter.

DG: I know that.

SA: That’s why the check engine light is on.

DG: Yes, I know.

SA: Your car’s ready to pick up.

On the way to get the car from the dealer last night, DG filled me in on the above conversation. “So, their actual repair efforts were limited to swapping a battery?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Alright. Well, that was a waste.” When we got to the service counter, the advisor, a little fellow who looked like a 3/4 scale Jeff Foxworthy, told us that our bill was at the cashier.

Our bill?

Sure enough, we had a bill for $105.63. They’d charged $10 for the battery, $25 to drive the Fiesta two miles and determine that the front-end noise was irreproducible, and $50 to diagnose the CEL.

“The car is under warranty,” I said. “Check the in-service date.”

“We go by build date,” the advisor said.

No you don’t,” I hissed. “That’s not how Ford works and you know it.”

Danger Girl was looking through the paperwork. When she realized they’d charged her for the check engine light, she made a swiping motion across the desk at the advisor, papers in hand. It’s at times like this that I remember that she is Native American by ancestry. She’s five foot ten. She says five-nine, but she’s five-ten.

That’s not particularly tall as far as my dating history goes; I had a girlfriend once who dunked a basketball in a Division II college game, and it wasn’t because she could jump. But Wes Studi was only five foot ten in “Last Of The Mohicans” and he basically destroyed an entire British regiment by himself with a tomahawk. She might be able to do something similar. This, after all, is a woman who was rammed directly in the base of her skull by a Hyundai Sonata doing 70 miles per hour and kind of shrugged it off. I try not to get her too angry.

The service advisor squeaked “Wait here,” and fast-marched out the door. He never returned. Instead, a fresh-faced young fellow walked up to me from out of nowhere and said, “It’s all taken care of! No charge!” Then, when I went to get the car out of the parking spot, he explained to DG that ” … we had to charge you because it had aftermarket parts on it. But we can waive it this one time.”

“That’s not right, is it?” she inquired of me once we were headed home.

“Well, if you’d asked them to investigate the CEL, and they spent their time and labor discovering that your aftermarket exhaust had caused the issue, then they could charge you. But they can’t arbitrarily decide to take your whole car out of warranty because of it.” At that point, I explained the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to her. You should know about it, too: here’s a basic guide. The dealerships don’t want you to be aware of it, because they’d rather charge you for warranty work than have the manufacturer pay them.

Why is that, as KRS-ONE once asked? Well, it’s because the manufacturer has strict rules on what they can and cannot charge. Think of it like healthcare. I recently went to court with my local group of trauma surgeons. My health insurance was willing to pay them $70 a day to look in on me while I was in the hospital. So they “accidentally” filed after the claim date, leading their claim to be rejected by the insurer, and then they took me to court to get the $168/day that they wanted for that work.

Ford’s not gonna pay a dealer $100 to say that nothing’s wrong with the car. But if they can get a customer to pay, particularly a female customer … well, they had no way of knowing over the phone that Danger Girl has a temper and a solid right hook.

And that’s how the story ends, for now: with the two of us driving into the sunset, having paid nothing for a battery valued at up for 89 cents. But here’s the funny thing: the Ford battery worked where two Amazon Basics batteries didn’t. I wonder if the battery has a warranty of its own?

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155 Comments on “The Girl with the Dragon Exhaust: A Magnuson Moss Mystery...”


  • avatar
    NotFast

    Based on my experience with car dealers, that result was expected. Unfortunately.

    And I’ve also had issues with aftermarket batteries from Amazon. I think they have a few good cells with the remainder stuffed with sawdust.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I’ve had good luck with Amazon cables (HDMI, charging,etc) but I used rechargeable Amazon batteries in my headsets at work. Even though they are the same MAh as the Panasonic rechargeable I have, they don’t seem to last as long.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      We’ve tried the cheapie batteries on Amazon for things and we’ve found that the name brand batteries are a much better investment if you don’t want to change them constantly. For keyboards, mice and HDMI cables, Basics stuff isn’t bad.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        The best deal on those batteries is on ebay. 5 Sony CR2025’s for 2.49 free shipping http://www.ebay.com/itm/361200739532?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’ve had good luck with the cheapo Maxells or whatever they sell on Amazon (various sizes) in a 5-pack for remotes and such. I don’t end up using them all before I get rid of the car, so I just give them to someone else later.

        5 batteries delivered to my door is cheaper than one battery which I have to go to a grocery store to get.

    • 0 avatar

      Something may be rotten in Amazon-land. I have bought two different lightning cables through Amazon, and neither has worked. At all.

      On the other hand, the cheap third party batteries for my Leica Q camera are working great so far. Despite costing about 10% what the brand name Leica version does.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve been an Amazon customer since 2001 and a Prime Customer since 2008. I recently had my first experience of buying something on the site that I had to return because “omg this is such a pos you should be ashamed to have sold it” and Amazon took it all in stride, refunding very quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        The Amazon *branded* cables always work for me. (As do Monoprice ones.)

        Random cables sold on Amazon, well, lots of luck…

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Amazon is increasingly a flea market where third-rate counterfeiters set up shop. It’s often getting hard to find the real name-brand merchandise. I shop less than I used to on Amazon as a result.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Amazon has an out-of-control problem with counterfeit goods.. buyer beware…

        http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/08/amazons-chinese-counterfeit-problem-is-getting-worse.html

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, looking for brakes, I ended up with a set of Brembo brake pads for my MDX. Came in a nice box complete with hologram.

          Lasted 7k….later found out that Brembo does not make a brake pad for this car….

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      It seems like over the last year or so that aftermarket batteries have become a not so great deal anymore. I recently bought a bundle of NiMh batteries from a seller I’ve bought from before. There were 16 batteries in the bundle, and 4 of them were bad. The seller was nice about it, as I’ve been buying stuff from him for about 12 years, and sent me a replacement bundle. Well, I put 4 in the charger and it was a good thing I stayed close, as one of the batteries got red hot and started to smoke. All together, 5 of the 16 were no good. I went and bought 8 Duracell AAs and they work great. A recent purchase of a 10 pack of 2032 batteries from Ebay was a bad deal too. A couple of them were dead, and one of them that I put in my fob soon died. Another one started leaking. No more cheapo batteries for me. I’ll stick with the pretty decently priced stuff at Costco.

  • avatar
    shedkept

    Good story Mr. Baruth.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I must be in the minority where I’ve had mostly good experiences with dealership service. It’s been pricey but never anything like this.

    It might help that I autocrossed with my VW service adviser (when I was getting started AX’ing in my 99 Passat 1.8T) or with one of the more experienced Mazda techs (after making the jump to my current 2005 RX-8).

    I’ve never been hassled about bizarre tire wear, aftermarket shocks or exhaust, tunes that double the pressure from the stock turbo, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      My dealer service department experiences have varied over the years. My town had 2 Ford dealers and a GMC and Chev dealer. Service deteriorated when 1 Ford dealer went bankrupt and the 2 GM dealers amalgamated. The lack of competition made dealing with them much worse for quite a while. They are much better now and a negative comment on a survey automatically means a phone call from the service manager.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It all depends on the personnel, just like service in any other shop. If both the writer and the tech are good you can get excellent service from a dealer, although it’ll still be expensive. If not… you won’t.

  • avatar
    Paul Alexander

    Love those tall women! I’ve unfortunately never had the pleasure of dating a woman taller than me, but it’s a challenge I crave. 5’11” was the tallest woman I’ve dated. She dunked a basketball? Jesus man, she must have been at least 6’8″!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Ha, my Senora is 5’3″ and she is the tallest of the three girls in her family. If you seek tall women don’t come to the Southwest.

      Jack, it is sad that the dealer would rather deal with a pissed off customer than a pissed off manufacturer. It reinforces the point of the Baruth brothers that dealer exists to serve the manufacturer and the manufacturer exists to serve the dealer and very little consideration is given to the customer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    ” ‘We go by build date,’ the advisor said”

    Hahahaha. Holy sh*t.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And a BBB compliant online.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      HP tried that with me on a desktop computer warranty, when my monitor went bad in under a year.

      And they won, because (at the time ~2004) they sold the separate components of tower, monitor, keyboard “separately” to Sam’s Club, who then packaged them together in an HP box.

      The warranty started when Sam’s purchased the parts.

      And that’s why you don’t buy computers from Sam’s.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    yep. the “Warranty Start Date” is the date the original owner takes delivery of the car. As soon as they look the vehicle up in OASIS it’s staring them in the face. It’s not like they can miss it, it clearly says in bold type WARRANTY START DATE: DD-MMM-YYYY.

    that is a dealer I would never go back to again.

    and most (if not all) states have laws which say you are not obligated to pay for repairs which are not on the work order.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

      Good info.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Does anyone use build date? I thought it was always “In Service” date, the day it was delivered new to it’s first owner( buyer,lessor or rental company).

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Does anyone use build date?”

          not that I’m aware of. I think they’d get sued pretty quick if they advertised e.g. a 3yr/36k warranty but the buyer only got 2 years of coverage because it sat on the lot for a year.

          • 0 avatar
            Eiriksmal

            UGH, thanks, JimZ. I feel like an idiot now. Toyota pulled this on me with my wife’s car. Build date July 2007, first owner/original leasee took it in October 2007 per CarFax (or Toyota paperwork I had? I forget).

            August 2012 with 60,100 miles on the clock, the water pump failed. Dealer refused to fix it because it was “out of warranty” by 100 miles, but said it’s okay ’cause it was also out of warranty by age, too–August 2012 is more than 60 months past the sticker on the car.

            Had me call Toyota corporate to plead my case. Toyota corporate said the same thing, with a dig about “Maybe if you have a great relationship with the dealer, they’ll still do the under warranty repair for you!”

            Sure, so if I’d spent $200 a year * 5 years at the dealer to have them change the oil and rotate the tires, they’d do a $150 repair (their cost) for me for free. Thanks, guys.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Did I sign off on that? No? Then I’m not paying for it.”

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I bought a leftover car from the previous model year, and the dealer had activated Sirius 8 months before I got it. So four months in, the 1 year sub was up. I called and renewed it. The dealer denied activating it, but eventually gave me a couple of oil changes to cover it. A friend recently bought a new Camaro, which came right off the transporter, and it was activated too. I don’t even know how this happens.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Funny this came up – I just got the SiriusXM expiration letter for my 2016 M235i. Which I did Euro Delivery on one year ago this month. Sat Radio doesn’t even work in Europe, but it evidently managed to activate itself. I did not get the car back in the states until mid-November. Annoying. I’m going to call SiriusXM and see if they can do anything for me.

        When I last did Euro Delivery, my XM trial started when I picked the car up in the states, as the dealer had to activate it. Evidently, not any more.

  • avatar
    motorrad

    I bought a CPO Fit and it was equipped with aftermarket shocks and Civic Si wheels. Honda CPOs come with a 100K warranty so when a wheel bearing went out at 60K I took it in. They tried to charge me $600 because I had put aftermarket shocks and wheels on and “those can increase stress on the bearing”. They did the same thing Jack’s dealer did when i told them I bought it from them so equipped.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Too funny.

    You should have published the name of the dealership…I am sure Ford would like to know whom out there is using the build date…
    Imagine if FCA used that? You could buy a brand new 200 and only have 11 months of warranty left.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Contacting the sales operation manager for the region is the move. I’ve seen this exact dynamic at a ny vw dealer while our wagon was new and fully warrantied. It boils down to the service manager instructing his people to extract every penny possible by pushing work out of warranty. It’s not even the service writers fault, but it’s their job to sit in the middle and catch crap from both sides, and if they are good at what they do the som never hears about it.

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      Yes, Ford would like to know so they can send the dealer a bonus for reducing their warranty cost.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m currently waiting for a check from Prime auto group. Long story, but I bought an extended warranty for my TDI (as I was worried about the HPFP imploding) and realized recently that I had a month left on it so I figured I’d use the wear and tear provision of it.

    One alignment is supposed to be covered. The dealer I took it to (not the dealer I bought the car and the VW “Easycare” warranty at) decided that they didn’t want to deal with the claim process so I authorized the $100 alignment since it needed it and figured I’d throw it on my VW goodwill card, which I was going to spend the entirety of on tires.

    I talked in person to a business manager at the dealer I bought the car from, he suspected that the other dealer was lazy and confirmed it by calling there and speaking to the service manager. On the phone the service manager said “we don’t like those things” (extended warranties that are underwritten by Fidelity but sold as VW warranties)

    In the end the service manager at Prime VW had to do a check request to get me my money back. So now because of their laziness, I’m annoyed at them and probably won’t go back (thought they were pretty good before) and I’ll never buy another extended warranty for a car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Brettc – are you in Maine? Did you buy the car at Morong then were having it serviced at Prime? It’s funny – Morong was always the “bad” VW dealer and Prime the “good” dealer when I had my last TDI. But now based on my experience helping a friend buy a Jetta this summer and your experience (and some other things I have heard) they seem to have swapped places.

      As they say “all dealers are independent businesses”.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would you lump in the extended warranty company with the bad dealer on this issue?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Didn’t someone else on here take a Fiesta ST on a test drive (or maybe it was a Focus ST), and it made a terrible noise from a front corner? Maybe it’s another one of those “They all do that” things.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    And as for Magnuson Moss, it cuts both ways. When I took my ’13 Tacoma in for a hail damage repair estimate this spring, the insurance company (Farmers) specified aftermarket repair parts (probably cheap junk from China). If I wanted Chinese parts, I’d buy a Chinese car.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Farmers insurance AKA Zurick their parent company, is in trouble. As a Farmer’s customer you should only expect Chinese or junkyard crash parts.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Progressive does the same thing, I am told. This is often the case with low-cost insurance.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’ve been in two accidents while under USAA. Both times, they let me pick OEM parts, although in one of those accidents, my car was so new to the market that I don’t know if there *were* aftermarket components.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          My insurance company tried to do that to us when our wagon was hit. In this case they wanted to replace the rear quarter panel. I knew the parts and pointed out that the reflector would be in the wrong position and that it just wouldn’t work. I was scoffed at openly when I pointed this out and so was the shop when they later recomended against same. Long story short the failure of those parts ended up nearly doubling the insurance claim, and because it was at the insurers insistence we had a minivan rental for two months longer than our policy would normally allow. They literally put themselves in a position where they should have just totaled my car through their insistence on cheap parts sourcing. The van rental alone was thousands.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Oh, well; if they didn’t total it, that’s their fault. I hope it was repaired to satisfaction.

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            It seems like over the last year or so that aftermarket batteries have become a not so great deal anymore. I recently bought a bundle of NiMh batteries from a seller I’ve bought from before. There were 16 batteries in the bundle, and 4 of them were bad. The seller was nice about it, as I’ve been buying stuff from him for about 12 years, and sent me a replacement bundle. Well, I put 4 in the charger and it was a good thing I stayed close, as one of the batteries got red hot and started to smoke. All together, 5 of the 16 were no good. I went and bought 8 Duracell AAs and they work great. A recent purchase of a 10 pack of 2032 batteries from Ebay was a bad deal too. A couple of them were dead, and one of them that I put in my fob soon died. Another one started leaking. No more cheapo batteries for me. I’ll stick with the pretty decently priced stuff at Costco.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Progressive does OEM parts, on new vehicles, for one year. After that, you better get a rider or you are SOL.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Doesn’t Progressive make you get the repairs done at their facility, and not the shop of your choosing?

          I always wondered about that one – I feel like I’d end up with the cheapest bits possible and a poor quality repair.

          Whenever I’ve had something fixed body-wise, I always get rid of the car soon-ish afterward anyway – I know it’s been fixed and is thus not original, and it grinds on me.

          • 0 avatar

            Progressive, has it’s claim centers but it depends on the state how aggressive they can push you towards them. Here in CT it was pretty restrictive. The Ins co I worked for (an old school Hartford based company) had approved shops and we could tell people about them but also had to mention they had a choice. In our case we offered free rentals (if they didn’t have rental coverage) and free inspections buy a claim appraiser before the car was delivered.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            They offer the Progressive Service Centers first. I think the script is something like the following:

            “You have a choice of where you would like to have your car repaired. We have a Progressive Service Center in your area that offers quick and easy service, has rental cars onsite, and works with a number of authorized repair facilities. What is a good time to drop you vehicle off at the Service Center in (location near you!)?”

            Most Progressive Service Centers don’t actually do work themselves. Dealerships or body shops come and get cars and Progressive employees inspect them before customers pick them up.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Interesting. Good info, both of you.

            They’ve almost created like a PPO for car repair. I don’t know of any other carrier which does this.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Progressive tried to vertically integrate by buying up a bunch of small time body shops. Big mistake. They didn’t realize they were messing with a business that requires a certain kind of, uh, connection. Like a family, like, you know, their own little thing (cosa nostra).

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah progressive has been the most aggressive. But laws block them in many states. And in some places (like a certain tiny New England state) there are defiantly family connections. The company I worked for has field offices in a bunch of body shops (several insurance companies do this) where they would write estimates set up your rental car etc for you. The body shop would then have things negotiated on the back end. This work pretty smoothly, in the case of the shops I worked in doing that they were all higher end places and I don’t think the customer really had anything to worry about, but I could see how it could be a problem. I will say Body shops are one of those places that get more word of mouth business then any other I have ever seen. I think it’s the reason some of the tiny hack shops stayed in business.

    • 0 avatar
      bills79jeep

      There is a local repair shop that openly trashes insurance co’s/preferred repair shops in their commercials. Cheap aftermarket parts are part of it.

      So, you can choose whatever shop you want for repairs, but my assumption is that independent shops that use more expensive parts will just hit the top dollar the insurance company is willing to pay before they total it out, right? Not sure how that would work when OEM vs. China parts are both under the ‘total it’ amount.

      obviously, this is outside of warranty work. Only place you can get that done is at a dealer. I guess I assumed dealers used OEM stuff. Is that wrong/naive?

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        You’re right, every insurance company that I know of will let you pick any repair facility you like. The main caveat is that they have their network of “preferred” repair facilities where they can guarantee the work quality, and if you go outside of that network, they won’t warranty the repairs if anything goes wrong or the car develops new problems afterward. After my most-recent accident in the Golf SportWagen, the suspension and mechanicals were repaired at the VW dealership where I bought it, and the bodywork was done at that dealership’s body shop down the street. Of course, I know the family that owns that dealership and bodyshop, and they’ve worked on my cars before, so I knew they’d do right by me.

        As far as OEM parts, dealerships have been known to use aftermarket stuff on repairs, too…but they seem to be a lot more discerning about where they do that. An aftermarket Chinese bumper cover is probably fine; however, you probably don’t want aftermarket, Chinese-made control arms or alloy wheels.

        I’ve never seen a dealer use non-OEM parts on warranty work, for obvious reasons.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Lots of OE wheels are now made in China, I know I’ve got a couple of sets.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Well, yes. But OE wheels—and lots of other OE things made in China—are made to a standard. The cheap Chinese replicas, however, tend to shatter.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Yeah, the problem is not “made in China” – iMacs and iPhones are made in China to the highest standards in the industry, for instance.

            Just like a good OEM car part will be, because the carmaker inspects the output and holds the factory to their standards, and will pull all their business if they get sold crap.

            “Random ‘compatible’ parts” are built to “good enough to get some idiot to buy it” standards, most of the time*.

            (* Sometimes better, of course – occasionally identical to the OEM part, because they’re actually just running the same line “after the shop closed”…)

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          Totaled a Focus back in ’03 and took it to an Allstate “preferred” shop. They were going to fix it! I think it was worth roughly $6500 and the repairs conveniently came up to $6300. I said hell no, that thing is toast.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on the insurance company and the state your in. Some states have pretty elaborate rules others do not. The insurance company I used to work for which tends to be one of the more expensive ones, did 1 year or 36,000 miles new OEM everything. Then the had stepped rules for what was allowed (bumper covers and headlights were first then sheet metal parts were longer). The 36k miles were fun because we had a few elderly people with claims on 10 year old cars with 20k miles so we paid for new.
      In general we had other guidelines provided by local management. Typically we avoided after market sheet metal altogether and did LKQ used parts for instance. Sometimes we would work with the repair shop and write for expensive aftermarket parts and they would use their discount and buy OEM parts anyways. (we wrote for list prices sometimes this meant that high volume shops could make more margin after rebates buying OEM parts then knockoffs. ) .
      Here in CT you have your choice of shops, but the insurance company can still stiff you if they can argue the shop was trying to overcharge. It’s rare as the insurance dept gets involved but it does happen. There was one shop (a small one) that used to constantly overcharge and then get into drawn out month long arguments with the insurance dept and insurance companies, that usually ended with them getting less then they wanted but more then they should. It was apparently part of their business model. (One claim I reviewed for a fellow adjuster who covered their territory included labor overage 4 times the original estimate (and Mitchell guide) with no new damage found. )

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      In my state it is up to you. The insurance company can try to entice you to let them use cheaper parts, but they can’t force you to. Of course, if the all OEM parts end up causing the car to be totaled, so be it.

      In my case, I had an idiot parking a truck pull the nose off my ’08 Saab. Hooked the front edge of the front fender with his rear bumper. State Farm tried to get me to allow used parts by offering a lifetime warranty on the work. No way, Jose… $5000+ of OEM Saab plastic it was.

      Though all that said – on an older car I don’t have much of an issue with used parts. They are used parts being replaced afterall. Cheap junk parts, nope.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Farmers seems to be one of the companies to stay away from. A friend of mine had a house fire and had to threaten them with a suit to get them to pay for the contents of the house, even though he paid to cover it all. I’ve heard nothing good about Farmer’s, ever, come to think of it. I can’t say one bad thing about State Farm, who I’ve had for almost 34 years with a huge wreck and a couple of windshields claimed.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wait ~
    .
    You’re not going to follow up on the suspension clunk ? .
    .
    I’da taken the Service Writer (I’m keenly aware they know little if anything) for a drive and reproduced the sound at the very least….
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      In my experience, suspension noise issues are beyond the willingness/ability of most dealers to repair under warranty.

      On my second attempt (at a second dealer) to get some noisy bushings replaced, I picked up the car and the dealer had replaced the front-right lower control arm, with the assurance that a test-drive confirmed the repair. Well, it took me all of 50 yards of driving to prove that one false.

      I kept telling the service advisors that I thought it was noisy bushings. On my third try (at a third dealer), they replaced the bushings and all was well.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        bunkie: I had a similar experience with my local Buick/GMC dealer; back in 2009 I bought a new Pontiac G6 which we noticed had a definite, but muffled “clunk” when going over bumps in the road. Took it back in three times when the car was under original warranty, no one could reproduce it and the car just kept on clunking. It was no worse than the squeaking interior panels, so we just lived with it.

        Came up on the 100K service earlier this spring; there were several issues with the car, the biggest of which was a cracked exhaust manifold. Oddly, since the replacement of that manifold, the clunk has disappeared…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’m going to have a proper alignment shop nut and bolt the car.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Could it also be a ball joint or a tie rod end?

        I’ll be interested in the outcome of the repair?

        I’m experiencing something similar in my car but I suspect its the ball joints since I recently installed new dampers but I get a thunk going over bumps and I’m experiencing a quiver in the wheel at high speeds. The rims are in good shape and the tires are balanced to within a gram or three plus they are on good rubber.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Strut mount or bearing? I don’t remember if this car has suspension as part of the build but if it does then I’d expect those to fail waaay sooner than otherwise. Hell, even brittle feeling factory suspensions can eat through those parts. It’s more likely to be that than an actually blown damper, you can feel those failing gradually and then producing a pitter patter when totally shot.

        Sucks if that’s it though, suspension out and aligned afterwards in that case.

      • 0 avatar
        ThirdPedal

        Start with the upper strut bearing. Not expensive or difficult to replace, but certainly not robust, and makes a clunking/ grinding sound as they progress to always sounding awful.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        Most dealerships I’ve been in will have a shop foreman in place or be broken down into service teams with a team leader that will road test vehicles with difficult to duplicate concerns. Also a ride with the customer may be in order to do this. The job should have also gone to a tech with factory certification in Suspension and Steering which includes a certification in NVH diagnosis and repair. The first step in the process is a proper write up by the service advisor. Ford actually produces a “tell your tech” questionnaire that advisors can use to have the customer explain under what conditions a concern occurs. But given the moron at the counter couldn’t understand the difference between build date and in service date on OASIS I doubt that would be much help. If I had gotten a repair order with C/S noise in right front or something equally as vague I’d have handed the ticket back to the dispatcher. Also in my experience Ford would not look too kindly on a service department scamming customers out of warranty service. FCSD would be of the opinion that if they’d do it
        to Joe blow then they’re just as likely to be committing warranty fraud on us. I’d expect to see a visit from an audit team that’ll be going over warranty claims for the past year or so. Personal anecdote: had a windbag (3.8l) within time and mileage come in with a seized engine. Pulled the dipstick and it was bone dry, no leaks anywhere. Checked the history, no LOFs with us. Had about 25k miles on it. Put it up in the air and it still had the factory original filter on it. Dropped the oil pan and the oil had solidified and was shaped exactly like the bottom of the crank in its final resting place. Customer had no receipts for oil changes. Contacted zone rep who came out and went through the show and tell and told us to put a motor in under warranty. The service manager and dealer gm were stunned but I guess in Ford’s thinking it was the lesser of two evils to warranty the motor instead of arguing with the customer.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Verano is back in the dealer today for intermittant messages on the DIC. “Service Park Brake” “Service Keyless Start” amd random cutting out of parking sensors.

    Lots of time but never a dime, thankfully.

    They have never hassled me and my new service advisor while the senior guy is on holidays took one look at my service history and said “oh geez I’d set it on fire”

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      there’s probably a simple wiring fault somewhere in the body harness they can’t track down. an interruption in CAN traffic seems a lot more likely than a whole bunch of modules failing at once.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Dave, I would have lost my head by now. In your shoes I would dump it at warranty expiration and not darken the doorstep of a GM dealer for at least a decade.

        • 0 avatar
          JK43123

          We dumped my wife’s POS 98 LeSabre in 05 and I still won’t touch a GM.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Warranty and lease expiration is one and the same. So yeah that day I’ll drop it like the hot trash it is.

          Just trying to stay calm. Having a tantrum wont get me anywhere unfortunately.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            They are hanging on to the car for a few days. I have a very strangely equipped Malibu LTZ Eco rental.

            I also told them to take a look at the release bearing and also the weird clunkiness while low speed maneuvering.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Just keep repeating the phrase until the pain subsides.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I dont know if all new (2014 or 2015+) cars or just GM 2014 or 2015+ cars do this… (if anyone can comment please do.)

            But why do all new GM cars sound like there is a monkey in the dash hammering out the turn signal “tock tock” sound with a wood block and mallet. I signal properly, and its so loud and obnoxious as to make me not want to signal. She often dozes when were cruising on the highway and the last time we had a Lacrosse it was too loud for this! (Its especially noticeable in Buick-quiet cars.) I can’t hear the turn signal in the Verano and thats the way I like it.

            Honestly my gf and I have discussed this and we won’t even consider buying any car that has this….feature?

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Last accident involving my own car was in 2003, IIRC. The Mk1 Focus I had as a rental had turn signals which could wake the dead!

            As could the seat belt warning in the 2000-ish Malibus!

            Not even on the same level as the key buzzer in late-’70s GM products, but close.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Ding, ding!

        (Re. JimZ’s comment)

        • 0 avatar
          frankev

          @davefromcalgary: sorry for the late response, but you might see if you can adjust the volume in the car’s settings. The 2015 Sonic we bought in April had an extremely loud audible signal indicator and, when we got it home that first evening, I ultimately found a menu option to change this to a reasonable level.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The Charger has now gone 10 weeks without a big issue. I think that is close to a record for it. The keyless start is even working better than usual (it only choked like once the last 11 days).

      Maybe it likes the summer?

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Despite TTAC catering mostly to the culture of new car ownership, the thought of signing on the dotted line for a new conveyance fills me with dread, both for the instant depreciation and the BS dealer service departments put owners through. My Insight at two years old suffered a hybrid battery failure. Howdy Honda in Austin drove it around the block on two service visits and pronounced it healthy, despite the fact it was suffering the dread “battery recalibration” once a day. Trust me, it’s harrowing when you’re pulling out in front of fast traffic and suddenly, arbitrarily your previously peppy car transforms into a Trabant.

      After going round & round with the arschlochs at Howdy, I took it to First Texas Honda where they diagnosed a failing hybrid battery and replaced it under warranty. It shouldn’t work that way.

      When a garage queen ’99 Subaru Legacy wagon, grandmother owned and pampered for 70k miles appeared on CL I could hardly believe my luck. Manual windows, manual locks and no gizmos to fail … it’s the essence of minimalism and has fixed my daily driver blues. Problem is, this kind of car is fast becoming a unicorn in a market where car owners expect seat ventilation and auto dimming mirrors.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Hey, auto dimming mirrors don’t mess up, don’t hate on em. The one on my ’93 still works fine.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          They routinely bust in hot weather and then the liquid seeps out of its enclosure and renders the whole thing useless. Such was the case for our ’92 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight. But my dad replaced it rather inexpensively.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’m sure my car has the same mirror in it, so I can’t wait for this to occur since it’s parked outside.

            x.x

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            @Corey, you’re in southern Ohio, yes? Should be OK.

            @Kyree, was that vehicle in OK? (Just don’t recall your family’s whereabouts.) Never heard of one of those blowing up so.

            Surprised that hasn’t come up more around here from folks in FL, or from @HDC or @PrincipalDan, in the REAL hot climates.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Correct, SW Ohio.

  • avatar

    See, it’s stories like this–and the anecdote about the surgeons further down–that make me have an intrinsic distrust of human nature. It’s why I’m not in the “man is inherently good” crowd. We’re all too susceptible to temptation to lie for our own gain. Just my two cents.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’ve had decent luck with most service departments I’ve used. I hate the line “They all do that” but it’s true on some level I suppose.

    But not all service departments are equal. I had an 01 Focus ZX3 that I bought new from a larger Ford store in the area. The OEM radio starting losing reception one day (this is before I replaced it with an aftermarket) and it kept getting worse. I took it to the dealer I bought it from, since it was under warranty.

    “Oh, our radio guy is backed up. It’ll be a few weeks until we can put a new radio in it” was the reply after they looked at it. In that time, I tried my hand at selling cars at a small Ford store in a not so great part of town. While that was short-lived (only a week, I learned I’m not a salesman really fast) I let their service department look at my Focus.

    Through actual diagnosis, they determined the antenna(aerial)lead was corroded and replaced it. Reception was fantastic, even better when I ditched the Ford radio for an aftermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      When it comes to dealerships, I’ve had some poor experiences with them trying to pull scams on me in the F&I office, but that’s everyone. However, they’re pretty straightforward with me in the service department. Of course, I’m a male. Maybe if I had breasts and long hair, they’d try to pull that nonsense. They really do seem to treat female customers differently; I’ve watched it and spoken up a few times.

      Of course, there was the time I took my mother’s 2012 Sonata to get an oil change and the gentleman told me the power steering fluid needed changing. I asked him where he was going to put it, exactly, since the car has electric power steering. And a guy tried to sell me spark plugs in the parking lot for my diesel, but I think he was a meth-junkie.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        My wife, gets the “little lady” treatment all the time. No matter what it is (cars,appliances,etc.)

        You do not want to piss off the 5’11 redhead who is also a junior high school teacher. I’ve learned that and my boys are learning that…

  • avatar
    raph

    “We go by the build date”

    Hah, I’m reminded of what one Fareed Zakaria said about Trump.

    I would say that was really code by the service guy for ” please make my life hell – I hate it and I need that one final push to swallow a bullet”.

    I have no idea where they dig these twits up but it must be a job requirement that they nebulously rewrite warranty and guarantee agreements with the possibility of incurring legal action.

    Granted they get away with it both due to ignorance on thier and the owner’s part as well as it being too costly in most cases to pursue that legal action.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      generally, if a dealer replaces a part under warranty and it comes back not defective, the dealer gets charged back for the repair. based on Jack’s description I’d wager this dealer has been smacked a few times for that and now tries to weasel out of warranty work whenever they think they can get away with it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “But if they can get a customer to pay, particularly a female customer…”

    No, really. It’s sad how many dealerships take advantage of female customers. They won’t be able to do it much longer, because the female customers seem to be the ones doing the research.

    Build date, my a**. A company could would never sell any car older than 90 days if the clock started ticking as soon as the thing was built, before it was even delivered to a dealer and thus eligible for sale.

    More than that, someone with a tuned Fiesta ST probably only visits the dealership on a minimal basis and knows what he/she is doing when a dealership visit *is* necessary.

    Anyway, sounds like this Danger Girl knows how to handle herself.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Kyree,
      The local Subaru dealer tried to pull a fast one of my wife’s single, female coworkers. She bought four new tires at the dealership for her Subie. One of the four had a low level leak through the rim seal. When she took the car back to have the leak fixed, the service adviser said she needed four mew tires, and didn’t give her car back until she signed a release.
      Needless to say she was pissed at this attempted scam.
      When asked for a recommendation for a honest tire shop, I sent her over to the place I have been doing business with for over 20 years.
      They fixed the leaking rim for $20. I’ve sent other single women to the same shop, and none were taken advantage of.
      I find that dealers and the big franchise shops (Midas I’m looking at you) are the worst offenders for pushing needless repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “I find that dealers and the big franchise shops (Midas I’m looking at you) are the worst offenders for pushing needless repairs.”

        This.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        No, no, no.

        And what these stupid shops don’t realize is that every time they do something like that, they tell ten or twenty different people, and at least half of those people won’t visit that facility because of it. I personally won’t ever go to a Jiffy Lube because I had a couple of friends whose cars were badly damaged and who basically had to sue to get them fixed.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’m kind of surprised they didn’t blame the shock noise, the wiper relay noise and remote batteries dying all on the “aftermarket exhaust”.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Eons ago, I ate the cost of a repair that the dealer blamed on the entirely unrelated aftermarket exhaust. Weeks of wrangling with corporate got my money back and lo and behold the issue turned into a TSB on that engine.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Both key fobs were non-functional on the used car that my son and I just bought. Upon changing the battery(s), I discovered that the microswitches on both circuit boards were smeared off the board, and/or missing.

    We never checked their function while buying the car.

    The salesman told me they couldn’t do anything about it (“as-is, no warranty”, etc). I already knew that replacing these fobs and programming them would cost me ~$100, and the dealer much less, but still no deal.

    So I bought two new fobs and a programmer (nifty gadget, actually), and did the fix myself in minutes. It’s aggravating. Otherwise, I like this dealer a lot, but it’s this sort of thing that drives customers away and into the arms of different sales and service alternatives.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Unless it was just a really cheap take-it-or-leave-it cash car, that’s when I would make it a condition of the deal to replace those key fobs. The fact that it’s out of warranty doesn’t mean they can’t help you out and bring the car a little bit closer to its as-new condition by giving you working key fobs.

      Missing spare tires, glass cracks, wheel blemishes, et cetera can be remedied rather easily and cheaply by the dealer. And non-proximity key fobs, in particular, are trivial. If you’re buying in-house (buying a used car from the same dealer that sells that brand new), it’s *really* easy to get them to provide even a new second key fob if there isn’t one.

      My mother even got a Chevy dealer to do PDR (paintless dent repair) all over the then-one-year-old 2012 Sonata Limited she bought from them, and without increasing the price of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes but he didn’t check that before he left the lot so he is SOL. On the other hand I purchased a used car with only one key and before I signed on the dotted line I made sure that I had a signed IOU for the 2nd key and programing it as well as retrieving the keyless entry code an ordering up an owner’s manual, and yes it was buying a Ford at a Ford store.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It sounds like he did check the key fobs, which is why he said that the dealership’s response was that the car was out of warranty, and that they thus couldn’t do anything about it.

          I would definitely make them give me two sets of keys on any newer car, within reason. I also make sure to turn in both keys when I trade cars in or sell them, so that people don’t have to go through that hassle, even if it’s an extra trip back to the dealer.

          EDIT: Never mind, you’re right.

          But dealers that are actually concerned about customer satisfaction and retention are often perfectly wiling and happy to rectify minor but annoying issues on used cars, even after the ink is dry and you’re technically stuck with it. This is especially true when it comes to things like key fobs, which most people do not test before buying. The Nissan dealership where I bought my ’97 Volkswagen Jetta VR6 helped me out big time when it was discovered that the car was running on only three of the six cylinders (I’d thought it was just old and underpowered; plus I needed a cheap cash car), and for that reason I continue to refer business there. That very next week, a family friend of ours bought a CPO Maxima from them, on my recommendation.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I agree that a good dealer that was interested in customer satisfaction would take care of something like a non functioning remote in hopes that it would generate repeat business and/or referrals. Spending $20 on a couple of fobs and paying a tech .5 hours would have been a very good advertising expenditure.

            Of course I have to wonder what kind of car it is that it needs a tool to program an entry only fob, because I’m certainly not going to buy a car from a mfg that isn’t designed so that I can add my own remotes and keys w/o any tools (assuming that I have 2 recognized keys to start with).

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            You need special tools for any of the ones that have proximity keys, like my Golf SportWagen.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Well in this case it certainly sounds like it was a remote entry fob, not an intelligent access key, and that is what I was referring to.

            “You need special tools for any of the ones that have proximity keys, like my Golf SportWagen.”

            Um … no, unless it is a lame mfg like VW. https://owner.ford.com/how-tos/vehicle-features/locks-and-security/how-to-program-your-intelligent-access-key.html Which is the same process as used to add a stand alone remote entry fob on many older Ford cars. Now if you only have 1 key then yes you’ll need a compatible scan tool to add a 2nd key. That is why on many cars you should have at least 3 recognized transponder keys or IA units.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    One of the many things I look forward to in my new Tesla is the fact that I don’t have to deal with a dealership.

    I used to really like cars. Unfortunately bad dealer experiences have turned cars in to an annoying expense to be minimized.

    With any luck, my kids or grand kids will see the last independent dealership close its doors in favor of company owned stores.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I think Tesla does a pretty good job of making sure the customers are taken care of at the moment with their “no dealer” setup, but if/when the 3 hits the volumes that they are hoping for, that concierge type service is going to be scaled back. Considering how poor the reliability has been on the Model S… could get ugly.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @Quentin: Everything you say is a concern for me as I await my pre-ordered Model 3.

        While I’m cautiously optimistic the Model 3 will be reliable, Tesla’s service center network needs serious expansion at a rate commensurate with the size of their deployed fleet.

        I never took my Leaf to anyone but Nissan, because I didn’t expect an indie shop to even know how to drive it into the garage for a tire change or state inspection.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I was sort of with you right up until you said that independent dealerships should close their doors. I don’t think that should have to happen; I just think that those dealerships shouldn’t be protected by giant lobbying groups (hello National Automobile Dealers Association), and that independent dealerships should be allowed to compete with factory-owned ones. Assuming the factory dealerships don’t operate just as dishonestly, it should eliminate a lot of the sleaziness that goes on and maybe even bring us to a fixed-price model, as with anything else.

      It’s just like how there are standalone or mall-based Apple stores, and then there are a whole bunch of other dealerships that sell Apple products competitively. We could, theoretically, have that business model with cars as well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You really think corporate owned stores wouldn’t do this?

    • 0 avatar
      jthorner

      Just remember that your beloved cable provider and phone company are probably corporate owned. Assuming that corporate owned is going to mean a better experience for most customers at scale is a big, big assumption.

      Also be aware that someday Tesla will have to be a profitable company without breathless investors and governments throwing money at it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It is SICK how much dealerships try to take advantage of women. My girlfriend had a mechanical problem with her old Hyundai a few years back and they tried to tell her it wasn’t under warranty, and would cost something like $600. She’s a single mom, so that’s a major hit to her budget. I kind of had to point her in right direction and have them take a look at her warranty. Eventually it was covered, but at first, the dealer was ready and willing to take her cash, for sure.

    It wasn’t the first time I had to give her a little bit of guidance here. She would take her car to Midas for things like oil changes, and of course they tried to sell her things like $50 wiper blades, $30 air filters, $75 cabin air filter replacements, and what-not. I told her to have them pass on that stuff, and drove over to Wal-Mart afterwards, where we spent about $30 on the stuff Midas was ready to take her $80 for, and installed all of it in about 3.6 minutes.

    Shame on the dealer and shame on Midas, but then again – and this must be said – how much of this is the ladies’ issue? Jack’s wife obviously knows better, but she’s a gearhead. A lot of women just don’t get it. My girlfriend is definitely in that category. She pretty much accepted that when the mechanic said “spend,” she would have to whip out the Visa. She’s no one’s fool, but she’s fifty-ish, and I think there are a lot of women in my age group who learn this kind of “defer to the man with the wrench” behavior from their moms, who were deep in June Cleaver mode.

    It’s a silly cultural norm that lots of women would do well to shed.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      How ridiculous. Yes, your friend might have ended up actually coughing up the money if it had ended differently, but as soon as she told you or someone else that story and they let her know that she was fleeced, she would have been rightfully p*ssed and she would probably have sworn off that dealership and the Hyundai brand.

      And that is how automakers fail at customer retention, by setting things up so that dealerships can fleece people in that capacity.

      Fortunately, you do have that survey as leverage. I don’t use it to blackmail the dealers, but I definitely use it to dissuade them from recommending unnecessary service or trying to fleece me.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I don’t think it is related to gender as much as it is related to the typical customer these days. Most customers don’t have an understanding of how cars work and what they are being sold so they have little choice but to trust the man or neglect it. Had I no interest in cars, I’d be just as clueless because my dad basically only knows how to do very basic maintenance (brakes, oil changes) and shared that little bit he knew with me. He can build a house by himself from footers to the roof, but cars were never something he regularly worked on or had the desire to fully understand. I’d say that is accurate for most people these days.

      For example, when we took our MINI to get an airbag recall covered, the dealership did a “complimentary” check of the vehicle. While we were out to dinner with friends while the car was still at the dealership, they called with a $2k laundry list of issues with the car. Judging by the forums, most people would have handed over the Visa. They also had items that would be repaired simultaneously listed out as separately (Why would I pay for them to put the vehicle in service mode — pull of the bumper cover — 3 times instead of doing it all at once?) I ended up repairing most of it on my own for considerably cheaper or, in the case of the slow seep between the block and upper oil pan, not repairing at all. It is an 11 year old car that doesn’t require oil between changes and I’m not finding oil on the garage floor where it lived as a weekend car… that slow oil seep is not an issue worth removing the engine and causing something else to go bad. Even then, I let them fix 2 of the items that I probably could have done for much cheaper and now I kick myself for not letting my independent mechanic handle those. When I asked about how much trade in I would get for the MINI on a new Clubman and how far off MSRP they’d come, they offered $3500 and said $0 off MSRP. I later ordered from a different dealer, paid $2500 under sticker, and sold the old one for $6500. Cars are hobby for me, though, so I put in the research to be generally well informed. As long as people aren’t interested in cars or learning about them, this selling a black box for an inflated price will continue.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        You have an excellent point.

        And what year is your Clubman? I’ve always liked those.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          2017 Cooper S Clubman All4. I haven’t seen any other out in the wild so far and reviews from the online outlets seem pretty sparse. It replaced my wife’s 2005 Cooper S 3-door hatch.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Unfortunately you are correct that the average consumer doesn’t have a clue as to how their car operates other than they need to put gas in it. So yeah when the service writer says that you need new muffler bearings, and the turbo encabulator adjusted many people will just pull out their credit card. However tell them they need new tires because one has a broken belt they will decline because they “still have tread”.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          A lot of people truly don’t budget for new tires, sadly. I’ve seen people trade in cars because they were going to have to spend $500 on tires on car that was a year or two from being paid off…whereas when they exchanged the car for a new one, in their minds, they were paying the same money per month for a newer car that had fresh tires.

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            Most people put zero thought into tires. And yes, they won’t replace them at 2/32nds because “they still have tread”.

            At least in PA, the state inspection takes care of most of that. 4/32nds is minimum to pass inspection I think. I don’t know, I never let my tires get that worn.

            The other side is that tires aren’t cheap, especially a name brand. So when those Michelins, for example, are worn out, they won’t spend the $200/tire for the OEM tire.

            Nope, it’s the Chengdu “UltraQuadRunwayMazzter” based on a first generation Goodyear Eagle. At $150 a tire, it’s a savings, but then they wonder why the car is noisier or the handling is worse.

            And then they replace them next year because they’re worn out. With the Xi Ping “GoodtimesRoadChampiro”.

            So little thought goes into what keeps the car on the road. I hate the “baller” rides rolling 20+ inches of crap Chinese tire. Or the anything that wore a 50k plus sticker when new wearing cheap tires.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Hard to imagine that cheap Chinese tires could be even worse than most OE rubber!

            Decent tires are usually readily available from a number of respectable manufacturers, for about half the cost of the heavily compromised OE stuff.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I had my CR-V in for some recalls just this monday, and they found out I need some new bushings in the front suspension while it was there. Charged me nothing but recommended I change them soon.
    Edit: though it is amazing that a dealship tech can find ruined suspenion bits while changing an airbag and a lightswitch, what is more worrying is that the more local independent shop who did the last bi-annual inspection (EU-regulations…) managed to miss them three months ago, and missed a cracked side mirror, a broken rear spring, and two completely rusted through rear frame bracing bits…

  • avatar
    jco

    I have fostered a good relationship w a Service Advisor at my local Toyota store. a few months back, I had them do brake work. I’m capable of replacing brakes but I had a coupon, so.. Anyways, a month or two later, as I’m driving around I noticed what sounds like a very loose piece of metal banging around over bumps. So I take it in. Wait 30m. SA comes back to tell me the tech didn’t hear anything. “Can I ride with him?” I go for a ride with the tech and the first thing I notice is he is driving with the windows closed on the AC on high. now, granted, it was like 96 degrees because this is south, but I asked him if I could drive and he could listen. turn off the AC, roll down the windows, hit some bumps. wow, there’s the noise! turned out to be incorrect-spec brake pads which they replaced free, no complaint there.

    My issue, and maybe yours too, is not all techs are created equal. not all techs are very strong at diagnosing. I’d keep bringing it back for that clunk.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Long ago, my wife had a Corvair given her by her father as a college graduation present. When the car was ten years old, it developed a very audible scrape/squeak from the left rear. I took it to a large Chevy dealer and described the symptoms to the service advisor. A few hours later, they phoned us to say that the transmission needed rebuilding and, because of the car’s age, they wanted money up front before working on it. I refused that, retrieved the car, and took it to a neighborhood gas station where the mechanic replaced the outer wheel bearing. I also told numerous people about the dealer for years afterward.

    Shortly after the Corvair fiasco, we bought a used Volvo 145 wagon. After a while, its engine began to run roughly. We took it to the Volvo dealer who advised us that there was nothing wrong. Although I had described the symptoms to the service advisor, I noticed on the paperwork that he had summarized the information as “Repair to run properly.” I had a friend who was a Porsche mechanic. At the time, both Porsche and Volvo used the same Bosch fuel injection system. My friend blipped the throttle a couple of times and pronounced, “Dirty fuel injectors.” He replaced one and cleaned a second. The Volvo mechanic had been unable to diagnose an engine running on 2-1/2 of its 4 cylinders. The car ran fine for the rest of the time we owned it.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    What I learned about Amazon recently, especially when it comes to random electronic goods like cameras, headphones, batteries and RC cars, is that they fulfill on behalf of grey market sellers from China and other distant lands. It’s pretty hard to ID whether the product is grey market or not. But aside from that, Amazon or ebay, “new” batteries there almost never are a match to what the original manufacturer sells.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I always look for “Fulfilled by Amazon” or that Amazon is the seller. Sometimes you have to click on the “More Options” tab and pay a few extra dollars. And I mean a few, like $4 at the most, for Amazon. I’m a Prime member and have been for a long time.

      But, I will agree Amazon is getting a bit Ebay-like, just without the auction part. You have to sift through a lot of junk depending on what you’re looking for. You can filter out stuff, but it doesn’t always help. But most of the time, Amazon isn’t a bad deal and if I don’t need the item RIGHT AWAY, I can wait for the free shipping or take the credit for the longer shipping.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “I always look for “Fulfilled by Amazon” or that Amazon is the seller.”

        This!

        Often you’ll see that something is for sale by Toshiba for example, and fulfilled by Amazon. Clicking on the store of the seller will give you an idea if it’s legit if there is concern.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    Jack, do you still recommend buying a Fiesta ST to gearheads on a budget? I’d be interested to know how DG’s Fiesta holds up in 6, 12, 18 months.

  • avatar
    firemachine69

    Dealers are scum, just to various degrees.

    Ford locally (two stealerships), was tied with Toyota (my s*** don’t stink attitude).

    I recall sourcing out the brake controller for my F150 (because they wouldn’t/couldn’t). Required a trim panel popped off, two screws, and an ECU flash.

    The bastards tried to charge me two HOURS of labour for that. I bluntly asked the service desk if their techs were all incompetent morons, in front of about ten other customers, after giving the basic-step-by-step installing to prying off a panel with a flathead, then installing two screws. I quite literally had the tools to do the work in the tool box of the truck itself, only needing their ECU flashing computer, but I figured since I was going to pay their one hour minimum charge anyways, I may as well make them work for it.

    You could hear a pin drop from the other customers. One was tire shopping, and upon hearing my conversation with the service manager, kindly said “thanks, but no thanks”. Guess he was going to skip on their “recommended” 3k mile oil change they were pushing as well…

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Recently I went to the dealer with a couple of problems on my 2010 Challenger. One was badly warped rotors that I had been tolerating for some time, but I had finally gotten fed up with it. Second was a weird shaking that turned out to be bad “Strut Tensioners”, AKA lower control arms. Third was a check engine light that caused no drivability issues. I had already purchased new aftermarket rotors and pads and when they did my airbag recall replacement, I had them install them for $150+ tax. I had no real complaints about that price, but what they wanted for the front end work seemed insanely high, $650. The parts price was crazy high, and it’s only about an hour job. I called a friend whose brother in law was a mechanic and he said he would do the labor for $100, so I went online and bought two aftermarket, much higher quality arms with zerk fittings on the ball joint end for $105 shipped from Rock Auto. The dealer wanted $160 EACH for the junk stock ones. So for $205 I got my front end fixed and saved over $400. My brakes are better than ever, and the car is clunk free. The dealer has “fixed” the CEL 3 times now. The longest it’s stayed out is 4 days. One supposed problem was a bad gas cap. They put a new one on, for only $22.50. I got 10% off!. Online, it’s $3.74 at Rock Auto for the exact same cap. I guess that’s why they call them stealerships.

      Since the car is running fine, I’m going to ignore the CEL for a while.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    If Jack wants to stay married, he’ll be more thoughtful about title selection. This one sounds like the new old lady ate a rancid burrito.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Off brand batteries are a real crap shoot. I’m not surprised that a real battery worked where Amazon’s lowest Chinese bidder stuff didn’t. So, the problem with the remote really was caused by a sub-standard aftermarket replacement part (the battery).

    A CEL caused by aftermarket parts is indeed the owner’s responsibility. If the original repair order didn’t call for investigating the CEL, the dealer is out of luck.

    All in all, the actual facts of this case are not quite a worthy of the easy-to-write dealers-are-scum story as the author has made it into.

    No, I’m not a car dealer nor am I employed by one.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    From my experience of 28 years of new car ownership of dozens of different makes it really comes down to the individual service advisor or writer at a particular dealership, imho.

    Sure, the Service Director may push the writers to do certain things that may be considered borderline against policy ( I have been both writer and management at dealerships), but overall I try to get to know my service advisor and go to the same one every visit.

    That can be difficult of you own four different marques, however.


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