Really, I tried to buy local and have it done - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-18-2015, 11:51 AM   #1
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Name: Tim
Trailer: '88 Scamp 16, layout 4
North Florida
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Really, I tried to buy local and have it done

I have a real gem of a machine for my “daily driver”. It is an old Toyota Corolla Station Wagon my Mother gifted to me when she inherited a newer Camry. Anyway, I have been driving the Corolla for a few years with no repairs at all, just oil changes. Sometime last year the exhaust manifold cracked, right in two although it took a while to finish completely breaking. Soon after I noticed the crack I called my preferred repair shop for a quote. I had already looked up the manifold online and knew it was around a $100 so was shocked (SHOCKED I say) when the shop quoted me $568 for the repair, parts and labor. And on top of that they said there may be additional charges for a heat shield (that I knew was included with the manifold anyway) and if they break any studs or run into other issues.

After that I let things ride (literally) for a while and then stopped in at my local auto parts store. This is a small store in a rural area a couple of miles from the house and I try and support them even though they are never the cheapest. He looks in the book and says “do you have this or that engine”? To which I reply “that”. He then says “I do not show a listing for it” and nothing more. He, my “Parts Guy” does not bother to give me any suggestions about how I am supposed to find one or anything. Hummm. So again I defer dealing with the issue.

Finally Sunday was a week ago I got online and compared a few sites finding what I am pretty confident is the right part for $86ish delivered with all the gaskets, studs, nuts, etc. It will be here in 3-4 days they claim. Eight days later it is laying in my driveway when I get home. Last night after work I tear into the project and 2 hours later it is done! The 2 hours included driving to a buddy’s place to borrow the correct deep-well metric socket I could not lay hands on at home. Oh, I also took a break and played with my dog some.

Did I mention the engine in this car is transverse and therefore the manifold is RIGHT THERE big as day in the front of the car? Did I mention nothing, except one easily removable shroud on the bottom, is in the way of doing the work? Did I mention there were only EIGHT (easily accessible) bolts/nuts holding the manifold on? To be completely honest, there were seven screws on the shroud and five more on the heat shield but those hardly count.

So, $568 minus $86 equals $482 divided by 2.5 equals $192.80 an hour (after tax). Not exactly Divorce Attorney wages but pretty good for an old country boy for sure. I have to work a long time for “the Man” to make that kind of jack. I would a lot rather work for myself where I can stop and play with the dog when I want to.

A similar thing happened to me many, many years ago when I was building my first house. I am a Carpenter by trade but this house had a full basement and I needed a bunch of concrete block laid. I had THREE different block masons come out in succession and in turn I cut a deal and SHOOK on it with each one. I never saw nor was able to get ANY of them on the phone after that. Finally in desperation to get going I hired an old (I mean in his 90s!) block mason to come over and help me get the first course laid. Then, over the next five months I laid the rest (by myself, no helper or anything). I did not want to, I was willing to pay, the guys just would not come to work! Anyway, one day I had the thought that someday every one of those three original block masons would wish they had the $3500 we traded on, and I will be glad I still have (did not have to pay) the $3500. BTW, my block work got noticeably better the higher up on the wall I got.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:20 PM   #2
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Name: Darwin
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Here in Louisa County Virginia, several years ago there was an add in the local paper "If you can get to work on time at least 2 days a week, give me a call, I have a job for you."
Then on day while I was in line at the drug store a lady said to the clerk, Bubba quit his job again because his boss would not let him off to hunting on opening day of hunting season and this is the second time this has happened with the same boss.

That is two snuff dipping buttheads that have S325 for brains. If he is a good worker just let him know that come hunting season he gets off without pay and come back when hes done hunting.

When we were building our house, the people doing the basement came up missing - Hunting season again. That's life here in Louisa County.
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:26 PM   #3
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Name: Fred
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I as well am a Doit Myselfer for mostly the same reasons you have stated.
After retiring I ended up starting a handyman business.
Really, all I have to do is show up to get the job! I charge a reasonable rate for the area and job. Am honest to me and my customer and have had referrals from many of them.
Shop overhead is so high to make any money they have to TAKE EVERYTHING they can get!
I have owned and now own Toyota's, they are great vehicles.
Dealers, in my experience, think their parts are gold plated, terrible high prices!!
Fred
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Old 03-18-2015, 12:54 PM   #4
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Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
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I have documented a similar experience:
Worst Vacation Ever

The short version:
While on vacation 3000 Km from home, my van breaks down. The dealership put in a new computer on the van for $1100. Now it works, but only for an hour at a time. They go on to replace the rotor, cap and ignition control module in separate trips to their shop. I am out of pocket on the order of $3000 to them. I had to leave the van, and trailer, and take the bus home. The next year, a private mechanic, who agrees to use parts that I source online, determines that the computer that was put in is defective. His bill for labor is ~$400. The computer was $130, delivered. An ignition control module was $10, delivered. I didn't price out the rotor and cap, but likely somewhat less then the $600 the dealership charged for them.
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:22 PM   #5
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
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We have a '96 Corolla sedan that also had the manifold crack. I did buy the replacement from Toyota, it was about $40 more than an aftermarket one. Replaced it myself as I'm a now retired truck mechanic, so this was a simple repair. One time I had the Toyota dealer do the timing belt on that car, reasoning that they do this all the time and I only work on big diesels, so they can do it easier. Well about a year later the wife hears a noise in the engine. Turns out they had stripped the crank pulley bolt, using an air gun I'm sure rather than a torque wrench, because they get paid by the job rather than by the hour. The crank pulley being loose got chucking back & forth and took out the keyway. When I showed the stripped bolt to the dealer's service dept. they acted highly insulted that I said they screwed up. I walked out, fixed the problem myself, and never went back. Still driving that car, but next car we bought is a Honda. I've screwed up things myself, but just had to make them right. Don't lie to the customer. I've also had the issue of contractors not showing up or calling back. Had to get the sheriff after one to get my money back.
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Old 03-18-2015, 03:49 PM   #6
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In defense of your local repair shop....
You didn't mention what the price they were paying for the parts alone. Unless they were telling you first, I doubt if a shop would install a used one or used an on-line source, and may have used the new Toyota parts price for parts, = $$$$$
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:54 PM   #7
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I have done several instillations where the owner supplied the parts. I have no problem guaranteeing. my work but I will not guarantee the owner supplied parts. On several occasions we went out to do warranty work and the problem was with the customer supplied parts . The customer expects you to replace the part for nothing. We finally refused to install owner supplied parts .
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Old 03-18-2015, 10:12 PM   #8
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Most Auto repair business here in Oklahoma City, charge $90 to $125 per hour.

It doesn't tale long to run up a hefty labor bill.

A couple of years ago I owned a 33-foot motorhome. I decided to sell it, but it had a small exaust manifold leak that I thought I should have fixed,

I took it to a Ford Truck Repair shop where I was told that while removing the leaking exaust manifold, one or more of the manifold bolts might break.

Sure enought, several did break, and the broken ends in the engine block had to be extracted, Most by drilling.

Total cost wsa over $2,000!

Crap sometimes happens!!

Bill
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Old 03-19-2015, 08:25 PM   #9
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Oklahoma
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I'm not very handy (mechanically), so about all I do on my vehicles are oil changes. Now I've gotten old and lazy and I even take them out to have that done, too. My hat is off to all you folks who learned how to fix your own cars.

A while back I started having a lot of leaks on my '08 Highlander, starting about 145,000 miles. First the front transfer case, $1800 (they had to R&R the tranny to get to it). Then a transaxle seal. Next time I took it to the other Toyota dealer in town, and again a transaxle seal was leaking and the timing chain cover gasket as well; I let them do the former ($500+) but not the latter, which was quoted at $2800! A few months later I took it to a little independent shop owned by Filipinos that I'd heard good things about; they showed me that the transaxle seal was leaking (again? Or STILL! Hmm...) and they replaced it for about $300; as for the timing chain cover, the mechanic said a couple of the bolts were loose and he tightened them, no charge... tadaa, no more leak. (I wonder... how do bolts suddenly loosen after being tight for 150,000 miles?)

Well, recently I went back to that 2nd Toyota dealer to have them take care of a couple of recalls. If it wasn't free work, I wouldn't have gone back. When picking up the HL, the service writer informed me of a CV boot leaking grease and that the timing chain cover leak was now "pretty serious". I went home, crawled underneath and looked at the CV boots... they're fine! And of course I haven't had any oil spots on the driveway or declining dipstick level since the independent shop tightened those bolts. So I know what to think of the service people at the dealership!

Last night I got to chatting with my neighbor. Turns out he's been working as a service writer at a Buick dealership, but is quitting and taking a job as an air conditioner repair tech. So I asked him, "What do service writers make?" His reply shocked me: "It really depends; they're on commission." Yep, he said, there's a lot of incentive to be dishonest, because the more repairs they can write up the more they earn!
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Old 03-19-2015, 09:54 PM   #10
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Name: Dave W
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I have heard similar stories from my neighbor. They loosen up bolts to generate business. Or worse. Also heard of jobs that were billed, but never done. I have a friend that is also not interested in working on her car, but she marks the various parts that they propose to replace, (discreetly). On more then one occasion, at more then one dealership, she was billed for parts that were not replaced.

I am afraid that from a consumer perspective, I have lost all trust in professional mechanics, especially the dealerships. Sad.

I have a guy in Calgary that I go to. He works out of his back yard garage. His English is not so strong. I almost always pay him about 30% more then he asks for. But then, his bill is usually less then $100, but I supply the parts. I still inspect his work though.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:04 AM   #11
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The "Flat Rate Hours" system is the bain of staying a decent mechanic, especially at a dealership where line mechanics are paid based on how many hours the flat rate book sez a job should take.


1. If a mechanic takes fewer hours to do a job they earn more in a day, encouraging taking shortcuts. I know a dealer mechanic who brags that he can book 12-13 hours in 8 hour work shift.
2. If a job takes longer, the mechanic isn't paid any more, encouraging sloppy work just to get the job done.
3. Seniority usually determines which jobs are assigned, meaning that the new guy gets stuck with the jobs that take full flat rate time or more, thus new mechanics may book fewer hours per shift than they have to work.
4. Most dealerships pay a lesser rate for doing warranty and recall work.


In short, the system they use encourages the comments made above.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:31 AM   #12
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
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Exactly right Bob Miller. As a truck mechanic I was in a little different situation when the company initiated some form of time standards. Since we only worked on company vehicles the customer wasn't billed for repairs. So what we did to look good was LIE. Make up tasks that we didn't do just to keep repair times in line with the standards. And if we lied good enough where it looked like we beat the time standards consistently we would get a bonus. Quality of work was sometimes sacrificed too. So thats corporate america for you. Retired now and don't miss work at all !!
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