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Large Dealership Service


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In my youth I was a parts manager and Service writer for a huge HD brake and wheel shop in Alberta. We had 6 branches and 600 employees. Our soe ualties were Brakes and Chassis. We even built low boy trailers. Granted this was 50 years ago but we charged for the time a mechanic spent on the job. Today they start the clock the minute you are at the service desk. The mechanic will discuss your problem with the mechanic  and the clock is running. If the mechanic needs a schematic or more info the shop computers have all the manuals. He may print out pertinent  data. The clock is still running. It stops when the service writer enters a description of the work performed and he is able to print an invoice. But these dealerships do not work for $125 an hour. The Freightliner shop I was at this week charges $185 an hour. Shop supplies are around 12% of the labor charges. That us a lot if rags and solvent!. When I am at home I know some independent shops that do good work for far less. In the USA many of the smaller shops do not work on motorhomes. They are very busy and can afford to be picky. My rant for the day.

 

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Doesn't only happen in larger equipment shops.

~4 years ago I was having a problem with my Jeep, I had done a bunch of internet searches and found what I thought was the solution.  I went to the local Jeep dealer and asked them to change a specific part.  They wouldn't do it, said they had to diagnose the problem for $250 and then do the work.  The problem was that this was in intermittent problem.  The shop manager told me there was NO WAY the part that I wanted changed had anything to do with my problem, which was an intermittent loss of dash power.  The part I wanted changed was the module that the ignition plugged into. 

So I went home and ordered the part for 1/2 what the dealer wanted, watched some Youtube videos on how to change and tackled the job, took me 30 minutes, a good tech could have done it in 15 minutes.  It solved my problem and haven't had an issue since!!!!

 

And another story!!  My wife bought her Chrysler van at the same dealership and took it to them for the service.  The first time she took it in after the warranty had expired they came and handed her an estimate for ~$2800 for items that would have been covered under warranty.  She called me frantic about what to do, I said drive it home and I'd look at the list.  One of the biggest items was they said the rack and pinion steering was leaking and would have to be replaced.  So I went out and and looked, no visible leaks but the reservoir was low.  So I added steering fluid>>>> it hasn't gone down in +8 years since.  Just a hunch but did they siphon some out????  The next day I went and talked to the owner and asked why they hadn't found any of the problems when my wife brought the van in for service, his comment was that they weren't in the job of finding problems unless they were asked!!!!          Needless to say we don't do business with them anymore. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jacwjames said:

Doesn't only happen in larger equipment shops.

~4 years ago I was having a problem with my Jeep, I had done a bunch of internet searches and found what I thought was the solution.  I went to the local Jeep dealer and asked them to change a specific part.  They wouldn't do it, said they had to diagnose the problem for $250 and then do the work.  The problem was that this was in intermittent problem.  The shop manager told me there was NO WAY the part that I wanted changed had anything to do with my problem, which was an intermittent loss of dash power.  The part I wanted changed was the module that the ignition plugged into. 

So I went home and ordered the part for 1/2 what the dealer wanted, watched some Youtube videos on how to change and tackled the job, took me 30 minutes, a good tech could have done it in 15 minutes.  It solved my problem and haven't had an issue since!!!!

 

And another story!!  My wife bought her Chrysler van at the same dealership and took it to them for the service.  The first time she took it in after the warranty had expired they came and handed her an estimate for ~$2800 for items that would have been covered under warranty.  She called me frantic about what to do, I said drive it home and I'd look at the list.  One of the biggest items was they said the rack and pinion steering was leaking and would have to be replaced.  So I went out and and looked, no visible leaks but the reservoir was low.  So I added steering fluid>>>> it hasn't gone down in +8 years since.  Just a hunch but did they siphon some out????  The next day I went and talked to the owner and asked why they hadn't found any of the problems when my wife brought the van in for service, his comment was that they weren't in the job of finding problems unless they were asked!!!!          Needless to say we don't do business with them anymore. 

 

 

50 years ago,  I had a few bad experiences.  That convinced me to learn how to do my own repairs and I never looked back.  The cost of service manuals, and specialty tools paid for themselves many many times over.  In my opinion, the satisfaction of getting the job done right the first time yourself without dealing with incompetent and often overpriced service centers is priceless. 

Yes, today engine computers and multiplex wiring systems are complicated, but as a teen, I had to learn about spark, dwell, timing and carburetors and back then, I thought those were complicated. 

Back in the day, about your only option was to read service manuals.  Today, you can also read those manuals and then ask questions on internet forums.  Lots of folks with expertise are out there willing to help.

My philosophy in retirement is to learn something new every day. 

 

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1 hour ago, birdshill123 said:

I too try to do my own work. But when I am on the road it is more difficult

 In my latest case there was no way I would get under my unit when there was an air leak.

Bruce, you are absolutely correct.  When on the road there are situations where doing your our repairs is not possible.  Safety considerations is top on my list.  Then even if I could do it safely, the tools I need might be at home.

A few years ago I was loosing coolant.  Limped into a campground.  I had no idea what was leaking.  My fear was an internal leak in the EGR cooler.  The tools I needed to pressure test the system were home.  Then it dawned on me to go to NAPA and they loaned out a radiator pressure tester.  That's what I did.  Pressurized the system and after a few minutes coolant started to drip out under the engine.  Found two coolant lines resting on top if a braided air line from the compressor.  After 50,000 miles the abrasion cause the heater hose to leaked.  Once found the repair was easy. 

I viewed this as my own fault because I should have caught this years ago when doing visual inspections.  Missed this one because of the somewhat hidden location.  Needless to say, I upped my game with much closer line inspections.

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I am not knowledgeable enough to do any engine work…with a recent experience with Cummins Coach Care of Orlando where I live, I now know I must learn to do the basics of diesel maintenance and diagnose issues myself through manuals and YouTube.

None of the RV dealers in the Orlando area will work on my Diplomat because Monaco is no longer in business. I even tried a Holiday Rambler dealer very near my home and they said no unless I had purchased it from them. Even Cummins Coach Care initially said no until I assured them I only wanted engine service.  I had some work on the house side at LazyDays in Wildwood but that was a less than satisfactory experience. 

I have decided I’m most likely going to take the on-line NRVTA course on the house side so I can diagnose and repair much of the routine issues with my RV. I guess for the engine issues I’m going to have to look for a similar training for the basics. 

It is very frustrating trying to find service in our area. I am open to any suggestions for the engine side of maintenance/repairs. 

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