Its okay to get a second opinion. People do it all the time with Doctors, Contractors and even Dog groomers. There is this strange stigma in the automotive industry about second opinions. Price shopping is okay too. Remember, just because another shop it cheaper doesn’t mean it’s the same quality parts and service. Most importantly, if you feel like the repair shop is not being honest, bring your vehicle somewhere else.
Let’s start this off with a sad and disgusting story. A few years ago, I came in contact with a woman who was asking for a second opinion. She brought her vehicle to a dealership for a $45.00 oil change and left with an estimate for $6500.00. Any responsible repair shop will check a vehicle for other issues that may be in need of repair but this just seemed excessive. The customer was not surprised by the “extra issues” just the amount of the estimate. She was afraid that her car was unsafe for her and her family to be in but was aware that a dealership labor rate was higher than a local shop. When the vehicle arrived, she handed over the dealership estimate. The estimate stated that she needed both front wheel bearings, all four tires, both front sway bar links and a complete exhaust due to a massive exhaust leak. Upon inspection it was determined that her tires, wheel bearings and sway bar links were all fine. There was a noise coming from the vehicle but it was coming from the rear not the front. Her right rear axle seal had been leaking for some time and had caused damage to the axle shaft. $631.00 later her car was repaired and ready to be picked up.
I didn’t forget about the exhaust leak or should I say the lack there of. This is the sad and disgusting part. The dealership was clearly taking advantage of the customer. The customer and her entire family are completely deaf. She recalled the dealership going on at length that there was a vibration while driving which she confirmed she thought she felt. They explained that the vibration was coming from the exhaust and how it was “REALLY DANGEROUS” for her family because the exhaust fumes could kill them. There was indeed a small vibration while driving which was coming from the axle shaft.
I could write a book of all the horror stories from other repair shops, customer stories, condition of vehicles and just plain stupid things I have seen and heard. This is the only story that has broken my heart. I had a lengthy conversation with the owner of said dealership and I have been assured measures were taken so nothing like this happens again. Just in case they did not do anything, measures were taking on our end. Of course, pictures and videos were taken of the state of the vehicle when it arrived and during repairs. I helped the customer file official complaints and turned over all pictures and video taken. In the end we had a happy customer with a safe vehicle.
Vehicle repairs can be costly, but they don’t always have to be. As a consumer do everything you can to protect your assets. Get second opinions, price shop and most importantly learn everything you can about your vehicle. There are many resources online, but I do have a favorite.
Car Complaints is a great resource for any car owner. You can look up your vehicle’s Year Make and Model to see what the most common repairs and complaints for nationwide information. They also have list of the best and worst vehicles ever, Recalls and help with Lemon Laws. You can browse through “Funny Complaints”, “Well-Written Complaints and the classic “Horror Stories” section.
I have not posted any pictures or video to protect the identity of the customer.