Would You Like To Super-Size That Oil Change?

Just yesterday I had a young woman come to my shop. Her mother is a customer of ours. She took her car to an auto chain in our town for an oil change. They told her she needed struts, springs, and tie rod ends. She wanted a second opinion and asked us to look at the car.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the car.

The estimate given by the auto chain was $1171.00 for two front struts with springs, one tie rod end for $263.99 and alignment for $89.99, for a total of $1524.98. These prices included labor. Their estimate no. 151328 dated 12/1/09.

Imagine the anguish of a student and single mother, with the expenses of the holidays approaching, being told that her car should not leave the shop unless she spent $1500 on repairs because it was unsafe to drive.

I have the hard copy of the estimate and my facts are dead-on. I called the chain in our town and asked to speak with the manager. I told him of the circumstances and he hung up on me.

What’s that tell you? Customer beware.

What’s worse is that I have lost count of the number of times I have heard such stories from distraught customers over the years. I was finally compelled to express my frustration with the lack of ethics that have given the auto repair industry its poor reputation.

If you have a problem with your car, whatever you do, don’t take it to an auto repair chain.

The best advice I have is to ask around, find a reputable, privately owned auto repair facility. Chances are, the people who own the facility are a part of your community and have been in the business a long time. These shops want your repeat business and they are going to treat you fairly. Unlike a chain repair shop. Auto chains don’t care if you ever come back. They want to clip you for the most that they can when you come to their facility. You know who they are. Don’t be lured by newspaper and radio ads. There is no such thing as a $59.00 brake job. Whether you like it or not, a good set of front brake pads cost at least that much.

Why would you take your vehicle to a place where the person working on your car was probably working at Burger King last week? Auto repair chains hire inexperienced workers who earn minimum wage and are paid a commission on the parts that they sell. That means that an honest minimum wage mechanic would probably not make much more than minimum wage and would eventually be fired because of his inability to generate a profit for the company.

Wise up. Don’t fall for the gimmicks.

Tim Trapasso

1 Comment

  1. This same thing happened to us at a well know dealership in Fulton. We had a problem with the steering in the front end our our F-350. My husband who for over 45 years has always done the usual work, oil changes, regular maintenance and everything from engine, tranny, and whatever work was unable to cope with the work because of an illness.

    So knowing what the problem was and knowing of his inability at the time to do the work we brought it back to the dealer to fix. Knowing we had a nice extended warranty on it, we thought ok it should not be too bad, co pay and done. What a surprise they had in mind for us.

    By the time they did some very unneeded work, we knew it was unneeded as my brother is the Service Tech on vehicles for the National Guard, we walked out of their service area with a 1200.00 inflated bill when it would have only taken a 100.00 co pay. I am quite sure that when they saw my husband walking in with a cane, all the bells and whistles were just going off for them and they just ran rough shod over us. We had no choice, normally my husband would have done the work.

    My husband knew it too, but in his very fragile health condition we were up against a rock and a hard place.
    So, yes we know first hand what these places will do and we say also just beware, just like a medical problem you can get a second opinion, but of course it is the scare factor that they use to get you to pay way more than you need, especially if you are a woman. Well this woman has worked right along side of her husband on all vehicle work and I knew they were not doing us right also.

    Thanks for your honesty on this Tim

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