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High Cost of Auto Repairs

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Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:53PM

Has anyone noticed that the cost of auto repairs has gone up a lot over the past 5 years.  It seems as though I am spending $1000 everytime I have my car serviced.  Just recenty I tried to get my electric car window fixed.  The mechanic charged $96 just to take the panel off and then said I needed a new motor and regulator for an additional $400.  I said no since it was a back window not the drivers window or front passenger.  Still I was left with a $96 charge and no fixed window.  If you decide to take your car to a place like Jiffy Lube they want to charge you for multiple fluid changes, fuel injection cleaning etc.  Chances are the bill is going to be in the hundreds of dollars.  I bet that by the time a car is serviced over 10 years the cost is equivalent to buying a new car.  Anyone feel the same way about car repairs?


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Difydave
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:54AM

I'm in the UK, so the situation may be different here. A lot of it depends on how many miles you do, and what car it is, how it's used etc. $1000 for a "normal" service without lots of extra work doing sounds way over the top to me. I think the service on my car at the main dealer (to keep the warranty. I know you don't really have to use the dealer, but they can't argue about the servicing if there is a problem) was under £200. Still ridiculous for what comes down to an oil change and a look around. If you need brakes, tyres etc, then it's going to get a lot dearer.


Personally I'd use a small local garage rather than a main dealer or one of the big franchises. main dealers are expensive, and the franchise type places all seem to want to jack up the steering wheel and fit a new car.


The $96 for the door guy would lose my business. $96 to have a look at a simple problem sounds ridiculous, and $400 for a new motor and regulator is too much IMO. Recon ones (don't know the car) appear to be around $50 on the net, plus 100% profit and a couple of hours work (at the most) can't be more than $300 surely even at $100 an hour. Apart from anthing else door window problems are often just broken cables where they flex going through the door closure, displaced plugs or water getting in. I tend to be a bit supicious when it's always the biggest job first. Not saying that's so in this case, but be wary.
kelvinjay
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:52AM
I think this is just the situation we find ourselves in whenever we are ignorant and need the help of someone with specialist knowledge. It's not just garages. Builders, plumbers, dentists, doctors... We generally are at a disadvantage, which is why we seek their expertise.

I'm a photographer, so if you ask me anything photo related and I will probably have an idea of what's involved, but if you tell me that the cv joints on the back of my car were worn and needed replacing, I'm not really in possession of any knowledge to argue the case. It's easy to be taken advantage of. If you tell me that the head gasket is on it's last legs, I'm only good for offering a blank look.

You just need to be lucky and find a mechanic you can trust. Luckily, we have a great garage about a minutes walk away who do very good work for reasonable rates and even do loads of little jobs for free, like replacing bulbs etc and they charge way less for servicing than the main dealer would. I think my annual MOT and servicing comes to about £300 a year, which I think is pretty good value for the service I get.
Difydave
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:32AM

Nice big shiny showrooms, prime position, receptionists, waiting areas with coffee, courtesy cars. They all have to be paid for by someone. The main dealer I use seems very knowledgable and (fairly)reaosnable. I'm wary of the level of knowledge and training of the staff in some of the big chain type places though.


The place I prefer to use is like the one you say about Kelvin. Once this car gets a bit older and out of warranty it'll go there. Having said that I tend to do most of the smaller stuff myself.
bunhill
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:41AM
One thing that really bothers me is that the headlight bulbs are now so difficult to replace. On my previous car (no joking) the official VW Audi service centre book method for changing the bulbs involves taking off the front bumper. It's possible to do without all that - but frustratingly fiddly. This is poor design IMO. Also potentially dangerous given that it should be possible to change a bulb by the side of the road on a wet and windy night. In much of Europe you are supposed to carry spare bulbs - yet this seems rather pointless given that it is so difficult.


Posted By Difydave:
The place I prefer to use is like the one you say about Kelvin. Once this car gets a bit older and out of warranty it'll go there. Having said that I tend to do most of the smaller stuff myself.


Yep. Mine gets serviced by a bloke I know. I totally trust him. A dealership service record adds nothing to the trade in price vs having the car serviced by a non dealership. So no point in paying for a dealership service as soon as the thing goes out of warranty.
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:43AM
As a small independent marketing/design company owner, I worked out several years ago that in order to net $60,000/year, I needed to charge $100/hour for billable work. In a 5-day 40-hour schedule, there are 2,080 hours/year. The "rule of thumb" I've read is, for a designer/entrepreneur, there are 1,440 billable hours. The remaining hours are for paperwork, self marketing, possibly managing and training staff.

After overhead and taxes (close to half), $144,000 boils down to $60K net. This is just for me - one person - working in a business with a very low entry cost. Add staff, and perhaps it balances out a bit better because you can pay them a lower wage, but in order to intentionally grow, you have to add on debt whether it's new equipment, new staff, etc., it's all a risk.

Netting $60,000/yr imho is not "greedy" for one person in a dual income family.

I understand that the world varies greatly in cost of living. Where I live, in order to buy a $300,000 house (this is the "low" price in our area) with "good" credit, compound interest and property taxes, my monthly payment would be around $2,100 (a total of almost $700K paid after 30 years). This doesn't take any consideration of home ownership problems like necessary repairs.

That total alone is $25,000/yr. Running a small business, everyone knows it's hard to have "good" credit so increase that to $2,500/mo - $30,000/yr. Add in a buffer/savings zone of $1,000/mo to cover home repairs, slow-paying clients, and suddenly I've spent almost 3/4 of my net income. Just on shelter for myself and two others. If this is applied to a dual income household, reasonably, the remainder could be used on a vacation or two or on luxury items - like a nicer car. With the exception of camping (gear is expensive, but other than campground fees, the costs would be similar to staying home), vacations are super expensive - I'd say easily $10,000 to see another country or a sunny island - IF you don't have connections or are able to do this as part of your job. If it's just one person earning those wages, the additional is spent on food and clothes (the cost can be high to keep up appearances). Increase the food budget if you want to eat real (unprocessed) food.

That scenario might work if it's a dual income family AND one is actually getting those 1,440 hours filled every year. For myself, I could never fill up those 1,440 hours by myself.

Apologies for the long way to preface my comments specifically on the OP's issue. I'd say I think that at least an hour is spent from the beginning of the transaction: talking on the phone making the appointment, getting the car up on the the lift, making new client files or adding to existing, to looking at the car, pulling it off the lift, meeting you again and explaining the problem or (hopefully) no problem and handing you your keys. None of that takes into consideration the high cost of entry for a garage to even operate.

It's not "greed" that is the problem. The problem is Capitalism. In the U.S., it's "The American Dream" of independence. And I'm not ignorant to the fact that it's becoming the norm world wide - ETA: even from the very beginning of a start-up business, it is the model required. In order to keep up and have a "piece of the pie," everyone has to charge more and earn more, thus a never ending cycle of charging more and earning more. The best way I think society has found to keep prices down, unfortunately, is to keep others down by paying them less. That will only last so long. I feel like we're being faced with a majority of uneducated population and inflation (I don't know a better word) so high that all we'll be able to do about it is work more.

In an effort to inspire everyone to see something different and possible, here's a vision from someone who has worked for years on the idea of a Resource-Based Economy. It's important that you keep an open mind about aesthetics and how it all works, as I say, it's one person's way of seeing it. I feel the principals are there, but a lot of comments I get on the idea are based on the way it looks and the fear that others will take what you "own". The main site is thevenusproject.com and, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be gaining traction here because of those fears. I think too, since we can't ignore the current society/social structure, it's difficult to figure out how to work inside one while actively pursuing the alternative...but it's not impossible.



(Edited on 2013-01-25 12:04:23 by pink_cotton_candy)
ClarkandCompany
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:59AM

Nice post Dawn.


I hope there is a forum on CarRepairNetwork.com complaining about the high cost of photographers....


We all want to make more but seem reluctant to pay more when it comes to other trades.
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:21PM

Posted By ClarkandCompany:

Nice post Dawn.

I hope there is a forum on CarRepairNetwork.com complaining about the high cost of photographers....

We all want to make more but seem reluctant to pay more when it comes to other trades.

thank you I don't think it's reluctance as much as it is inability for a larger and larger part of our society. If I had the excess money, I would happily distribute it.
Willowpix
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:49PM

I'd say every transaction has a relative cost and a relative value. Each of us on both sides of every transaction's equation needs to decide how much value each bit of cost provides. To the OP's point, I suspect some people value (correctly or incorrectly calculated isn't my point here) the nice waiting room/coffee/loaner cars/etc. more than others - so will pay more. To Dify's point, some people value their own time differently than others value their own time - so for whatever reasons choose to do certain things themselves. To Dawn's point, if you really analyze the cost/value relationship of almost any contemplated transaction relatively deeply, there are so many factors to consider that it's hard to know where to start - or know when the analysis is done.


All to say IMO, a good day is when at least one transaction - even if only purchasing a candy bar for the 30 seconds of pleasure it provides - feels worth it. Even if the pleasure and satisfaction is short-lived. Lasting only prior to the refreshed realization how imbalanced that transaction usually is - combining the ridiculously over-priced candy bar PLUS the cost of the ensuing guilt for many - setting in. 


As for car repairs, we use a dealer (excellent in our case in our opinion) while the vehicle is still under warranty. And often on-going - particularly for "major" work. Under the theory that this dealer has dealt with this or that major issue on this brand of car countless times while the local mechanic works on a different brand every hour. But we often use the local mechanic (also excellent in our opinion) for routine work on an older car. With in-law's and three grown kids still generally around this area (where we live), and all of us driving a bell curve's variety of cars on the new through old scale, we see the local mechanic with some regularity.
bunhill
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:15PM

Posted By ClarkandCompany:
We all want to make more but seem reluctant to pay more when it comes to other trades.


On the other hand, everyone putting up prices because everyone else puts up prices results in an inflationary vicious circle which devalues savings and encourages debt. Govts, the worst offenders with respect to debt and borrowing, are quite sneaky about hiding the reality of wallet inflation behind official measures. Govts lead the way when it comes to buying stuff that nobody needs.

I think I liked the world better when everyone knew their place !
pink_cotton_candy
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:23PM

Posted By bunhill:

Posted By ClarkandCompany:
We all want to make more but seem reluctant to pay more when it comes to other trades.


On the other hand, everyone putting up prices because everyone else puts up prices results in an inflationary vicious circle which devalues savings and encourages debt. Govts, the worst offenders with respect to debt and borrowing, are quite sneaky about hiding the reality of wallet inflation behind official measures. Govts lead the way when it comes to buying stuff that nobody needs.

I think I liked the world better when everyone knew their place :) !

Exactly, although I'd prefer to look at it as "if everyone has a place" (or could have a place). Thank you for consolidating. I tend to need examples - thus my long posts.

A really fascinating book I just finished Debt: The First 5,000 Years by anthropologist (not economist) David Graeber.

susandaniels
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Posted Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:29PM
after spending £1000+ learning to drive recently, i now find i cant afford to buy a car not even a banger, but its been fun
Whiteway
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Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:22AM
Your maths looks pretty spot on, Dawn.

On the other hand, the Venus Project's idea of world control is pretty terrifying. Just imagine the problems created by your local administration, and magnify that up to a global scale. I wouldn't trust anyone or any organisation with that kind of freedom to cock up the Earth and all its resources in my name. And no amount of imagined space-age architecture will persuade me otherwise.

There must be very few people today who don't understand the corruption behind the banking system and large businesses. But even now, banks are getting away with advertising how they represent stability, and our money is safe with them. It is symptomatic of how banks regard the intelligence of we, the public.

It is possible to wind on about this subject forever, of course, enumerating what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'. The basic dissonance that I feel is this: as a race, we humans spend huge resources on medicine, and concern ourselves with 'feeding the world' (while not understanding most of it). This leads, logically, to more humans on the planet, producing even more humans.

Does the Earth really need more people? There is one simple way to reduce our voracious consumption of Earth's resources, and that is – for there to be fewer people.

China has tried to address this problem, creating human consequences that may tug at our heartstrings. At least they tried. And it is also a country where, I am sure, garage repairs are cheaper than in America (or here in UK).

On the subject of garage repairs, and other jobs where experienced tradesmen are involved, you can protect yourself by insisting on a quote that you can understand. How much for parts? How much for labour? How long will the job take, and what is the hourly rate? Then try another company, for comparison. Don't accept the first figure that is offered. And when you get a job done for a reasonable sum, don't assume that a subsequent quote from the same trader will be just as reasonable. Many tradesmen will use the first job as an 'in', and pile on the cost for a second job.
Difydave
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Posted Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:31AM

I think that one of the biggest problems with any technical trade like plumbers, domestic appliance engineers and car mechanics, is that there is a certain section of them who will always say that the repair needed is the most expensive one parts and labour wise no matter how simple the fault may be. Paying a reasonable rate for work that is needed is one thing, being scammed is quite another. As already said here the problem comes when you are faced with problems about which you know nothing. There are plenty of one make car forums on the internet where members will be happy to discuss problems you might have with a particular vehicle, and more general DIY type forums where you can find out just about anything. For instance, knowing that a particular car has a tendancy to blow head gaskets, knowing what the symptoms of a blown head gasket are, and having some idea of what questions to ask the mechanic who is repairing the car might well save you a lot of money.


One thing I would say about garage pricing, is while I don't mind paying for a skilled vehicle technician to work on my car when it is needed, I have never understood the pricing on servicing modern cars, most of the actual work will be carried out by some sort of junior, or apprentice, and the whole job really can't take more than an hour plus parts. I believe that most of the main dealers would have a job to justify their pricing if they had to.


I agree with Roger that The Venus Project looks pretty terrifying.  Sorry but I just can't see how something like that could work.


I'd also agree with Roger that the biggest problem we face is that there are too many of us. There is of course no real answer to that problem.
Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:50PM

I called several garages to compare prices and one mechanic told something interesting.  The electric motor usually does not need replacing just the regulator.  That reduces the price to $350.  Still repairing the back window is a luxury.  It should pass inspection as most state inspections are only concerned with emissions.  At any rate I will wait until summer to get it fixed.  Another garage offers a $50 coupon for your first visit.  That could help as weil.  I checked out a video on fixing an electric power window.  It is a complicated job but anyone who has better than average mechanical skills could do it.  There are a lot of nuts and bolts and cables to disconnect.  The video is posted below.  Also looked at new car prices.  The Nissan Versa is one of the cheapest new cars on the market at around $12,000 for the sedan but keeping my old car may still be less expensive.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJzjDr9-_XI

(Edited on 2013-01-28 18:52:51 by Coast-to-Coast)
Whiteway
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:34AM
The suggestion to look on line for solutions was certainly a good one. Certain problems are often common to certain types of car.

I had a Peugeot 205 Mardi Gras (turbo diesel) that came to have a repeating problem. It wouldn't start.

Luckily, the wife of a mechanic at my garage had the same car, and the mechanic showed me a button that was neatly hidden amongst the rest of the engine. Pressing that button repeatedly removed an air lock in the system – and the car would start. But for that tip, I would either have spent a fortune at the garage; or, more likely, I would have sold the car.
Difydave
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:05AM
Can you hear the motor turning, or even clicking inside the door when you operate the switch? (Not to be confused with the relay clicking probably under the dash somewhere)


The snag with modern cars is it's not always so obvious with electrical faults. All the circuits go through a computer which then works the whatever through a relay. That gives the option for the "comfort and convenience" things like the windows closing when you lock the doors. It also gives the option for more to go wrong!


Personally at $350 I'd definitely feel inclined to buy a few tools and change the unit myself for a complete recon unit from a motor factor. It's fiddly rather than complicated, and it's not as if it's potentially lethal like brakes if you get it wrong! At worst you can go to the mechanic and look sheepish!


Incidentally you have checked the fuse for that circuit haven't you? smile

ETA Particularly if the car is parked outside, and you've been having bad weather, it might be worth looking to see there's no water hgetting on anything electrical as well. Seems to be a problem with some modern cars.

(Edited on 2013-01-29 08:08:06 by Difydave)
Lobo
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:11AM
I'm getting misty. My Delica is in the shop and I'm going to pretty much have to pay half of what I paid to buy it to get it fixed. Booooo hooo. Im a special case though, it's a 20 year old japanese import that about 10 guys know how to actually fix properly.
lostinbids
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:17AM
^is it this one mitsubishi-delica-4wd-04
Willowpix
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:15PM
No, his is customized.
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