View Full Version : Garage Rip off

14th Jan 2009, 19:08
I had my car serviced at a main dealer today. When I looked at the bill, I had been charged for 50 units of oil. So I queried this:

"50 units of what?"

"Oh, we charge per 100 ml".

So, I've had 5 litres of oil and it's cost me £41.

Robbing bast**ds.

Captain Stable
14th Jan 2009, 19:11
I hope you didn't pay? :uhoh:

14th Jan 2009, 19:12
Another thing to watch for is when the schedule calls for brake fluid change they more often than not just change fluid in the master cylinder.

14th Jan 2009, 19:19
I hope you didn't pay?

Too late. I paid over the phone and only got the bill when the car was delivered back to me.

Screen wash was another one. I only topped it up a couple of weeks ago but they still charge you for filling up the inch or two that I'd used since then.

14th Jan 2009, 19:42
No doubt you have a whizz wagon that runs on the best; something like; Mobil 1 0w40 Fully Synthetic Turbo Diesel Motor Oil - 5 Litres [CO-149013] - £42.99 - Wilco Direct - For All Your Motoring Needs (http://www.wilcodirect.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2104)

Look on the bright side. You didn't get your hands dirty.

14th Jan 2009, 20:25
I bought a nice, used (sorry, that reads so pleb, please make that "Pre-owned") BMW from the main dealer. It came with a one-year guarantee plus I carefully checked the service history when I noticed that this car had only been serviced three times in the past even though it had about 75 thousand kilometres on the clock. There was the initial check after a short interval and then one each at 25 and 50 thousand kilometres, which really did not look right to me.

It turns out that the recommended interval is something like 25 thousand kilometres, subject to patterns of use as logged by some tiny, pre-programmed chip, so that BMW insist on some very special, very expensive synthetic oil that meets BMW spec number so-and-so. Well, fair enough, really! The salesman threw in the next service plus a pair of new tires I hadn't even asked for so that I did not feel gouged at all.

This buying high-spec oil is somewhat akin to spending insane amounts of money on radial tires that then last much longer than the older, cheaper bias-ply ones they have replaced.

In Germany tests of various garages, using manipulated vehicles put in for service, often uncover the fact that people are charged for stuff they don't get, such as screen washer and brake fluid. An interesting fact is that the best, honest garages are often also much cheaper than the ones that scam their customers!

The Real Slim Shady
14th Jan 2009, 20:41
My 3 series runs to about a grand for every service.

They are not cheap cars to run!

14th Jan 2009, 21:13
RSS, Presumably you use a main dealer. You could shop around. Mine costs about a fifth of that, done by two local chaps who specialise in the make and probably know more about the actual nuts and bolts than the main dealer's mechanics.

In three years my BMW has had three "breakdowns": - two rear light bulbs and a dipped beam bulb have failed.

14th Jan 2009, 21:26
Agreed; find a local independent specialist. I kicked my local Alfa Romeo dealer into touch (after they said they longer guaranteed coutesy cars - amongst other things) and. I took my car to a local Alfa specialist.

I found them to be cheaper, better car service, not patronising and treated me, the customer, with more respect. No topping up of oil, coolant, washer fluid unless it needed it and, when they did, they gave me the rest of the can :ok:



14th Jan 2009, 21:42
Long story short;

Went to collect my car to discover the bill was significantly higher than quoted on booking it in, on taking it up with the service manager he agreed to reduce it.

Now for the interesting bit; he got the bill down by charging the lower labour rate as charged to people with older cars. The reason given for the difference was that it was to encourage owners of older cars to go to a main dealer.

Never accepted the first price for anything since.



was an Audi main dealer.

Beatriz Fontana
14th Jan 2009, 21:46
Nothing quite beats a local trusted independent garage. The trick is finding it! I had a really nasty time with a local garage recently who couldn't find let alone fix the problem (despite me telling them what it was) and switched to a main dealer. I await the first service but I factor in the liquid top ups, they all do it.

14th Jan 2009, 22:00
I was told at weekend Mercedes allow 14 hours for a major service on his E320.
I had a friend who had a BMW alpina the oil was £45 for 5 ltrs.The car lost 20K in the first 18 month.
Another chap i know had a M series and at its first main service he was told it needed new front discs at a cost of nearly 1K so he went down to the dealership with his own micrometer and checked the discs only to find a different measurement to the one quoted by the mechanic. You cant trust anyone who is on bonus.

Lon More
14th Jan 2009, 22:11
Guter Plannung ist deuscher Plannung.

My Renault went out of guarantee last month. Dealer phoned me to ask me to bring it in so they could have a look round it before that happened. A few little things changed. tracking checked - i told them I'd curbed it. All fluids topped up - a mini service really, and they cleaned it inside and out. No charge, and a phone call the next day to ask if I was satisfied.

Vive la France

Metro man
15th Jan 2009, 01:31
If you can afford to lose around 30% of the purchase price of a new car in its first year, you can probably afford main dealer prices as well.

Main dealers have the advantage of direct contact with the manufacturer for staff training and access to information. When a new model comes out, main dealer mechanics will have had a course on it and access to any specialist tools.

When my last car (used) was due for service soon after I bought it, I took it back to the service chain garage that had worked on it previously and was quite dissappointed as I seemed to know more about it than the mechanic working on it.

Next service, main dealer, who pointed out that I had the wrong size tyres and checked the seat belts under a manufacturers recall. Most impressed. Convenient too as their garage was only a few minutes walk from my place.

If you don't have money to burn, by a good, low mileage used car with a full service history. 2-3 years old and someone else has taken the heavy depreciation but there is still plenty of reliable life left.

Find a good independent, specialist eg ex main dealer mechanic gone out on his own. He will know the model and have contacts for parts and specialist repairs. Save money:)

15th Jan 2009, 02:42
In three years my BMW has had three "breakdowns": - two rear light bulbs and a dipped beam bulb have failed.

You obviously have a lemon.

In 7 1/2 years my Subaru has had two dome lights go south. :ugh:

That's it. :)

15th Jan 2009, 05:24
Just had Mrs SI's 10-yr-old Fiesta to the local independent garage for its annual service and MoT : £126. Not bad, eh? Only thing is I do the oil change myself with nice clean oil from ... Tesco. Got it back by lunch-time too and only a 10 minute walk from home.

Fiesta Encore 1.3 : brilliant car ! Never had to replace any bulb, folks, and still on original battery from new ! :D

And that is probably its kiss-of-death :sad: !


Impress to inflate
15th Jan 2009, 06:18
Had a VW TDI, 18 quid a liter !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bloody good engine though

Loose rivets
15th Jan 2009, 06:45
While home last summer, I swapped my Honda for my Son-I-L's little BMW, so that daughter could get babies into car-seats etc.. It leaked oil. The little BMW, not the baby.

It's so hard for me to go to 'a garage.' I've never had to have 'services' etc., and if something big had to be done, I'd borrow the ramp at me mate's village garage. Now that's gone, as has my home with workshop. Just didn't think it through...just how many things I did for almost no cost. Anyway, leaking oil.

The sump had been cracked near the drain nut. Usual over-tightening. I didn't know until new semi had been put in. 45 quid. Oh well. Old now, don't need to be messing with cars. Bollox! and Bollox again. When I got it back, it leaked more, so I took it back and they told me about the crack. New sump...all because some :mad: tightened it with a power tool no doubt. Suspension has to be got out of the way first, so I said no for now, and rolled my sleeves up.

I figured out that they had tried to stop the leak by tightening a bit more. It made it worse. Very little torque and the crack was minimal.

Oh, forgot to say, when I asked for a top up, they said come back in an hour cos it was Fleet oil, and off the shelf wouldn't mix. :mad: Okay, that's them out of my life. Went to Halfords and got some Mobil 1 semi. Now I've asked this before, but why is this 1/2 the price of the famous Mobil 1 advertised all round the world? about 24 quid.

Up to me mate's garden and use his jack. Drain, clean thread and put in sealant and plumbing tape on the thread. Drill hole in nut head. Put in finger-tight plus a bit. Wire lock the nut with a bit of coathanger, aircraft style. Chase dog round garden. Change filter using old washer, (only a few days old.) Cuss at dog cos he's got new washer in his mouth. Fill up, and Bob's yer uncle.

Son-I-L is a really nice bloke, but he ain't a mechanic. Just doesn't have any desire to take things to pieces. How can anyone not want to take engines to pieces? Bewilders me.

A funny thing. Honda. "It's degraded dad." Didn't look to bad. Took it to Essex before we swapped and next day saw the bonnet shoved in. Now I have to confess that I blamed the entire population of Clacton for that. Mea culpa. Twasn't them, was already done!:( Shame on me.

Had a funny interchange with a lad that has a small garage...didn't want to look at me suspension, didn't even really want to talk. He was the son of a friend of a friend so finally got him to look at it. Next day I picked it up and he was a garrulous as...well, me really. Sooooooooo freindly, and didn't charge me for the testing. It was about noon that day that I noticed that the bonet was more or less back to shape. He must have thought it was done at his garage, and he'd fix it without saying anything. One will let him know...in the fullness of time.:rolleyes:

Ten West
15th Jan 2009, 06:50

That's what you get for going to a Main Stealer. :{

Don't you have a decent local independent you can use?

Scumbag O'Riley
15th Jan 2009, 07:09
Over half (and I have counted) of the times I have had work done by a garage, independent or main, I have had to take it back for them to complete the job properly or I have had to finish their job myself.

If you have the ability to do the job yourself on your own car then do it yourself. Changing oil is trivial, the hardest part is getting the waste oil to the recycling yard. Services are also trivial, the garage doesn't hardly do anything, and you can get a list of what is needed from a book. I'd only pay somebody else to do the work when it's a legal requirement (MOT), when I cannot do it myself (eg fuel injector change), or when the work is just too hard to get at or the tools would be too expensive to buy and use only once (eg replace shocks)

Modern cars are so reliable nowadays anyway, the manufacturers have come a long way in the past 30 years. Garages are still cowboys.

blue up
15th Jan 2009, 07:22
Merc. Main dealer wants £500 to change the sparkplugs.:ooh::{

Problem is that I (who builds VW 'aircraft engines' for a hobby) can't even work out how to pop the big black plastic cover off the engine to even FIND the plugs. Spent 10 minutes looking for something to undo.

Do Haynes make a Merc SL500 manual???

PS That's 16 sparkplugs!!

Ancient Mariner
15th Jan 2009, 08:05
Picked up my Nissan Navara, eh...pick up from the dealer yesterday after its 30.000 km/19.000 miles service.
Shelled out GBP 673 for the pleasure. Man hour rate was GBP 90 and the engine swallowed 6.6 litres of Mobile finest. As an ex-merchant navy engineer nothing, but the best lubricant will do for my engines and I tend to change at half the recommended interval.
I was informed that the front discs and pads (worn) as well as the Hella 550 aux driving lights (internal moisture) fitted new would be replaced free of charge if I would be kind enough to drop by next Monday.
Considering the free courtesy car, reasonable coffee provided and the fact that they always wash the Navara when serviced or otherwise pampered I accepted the offer.

15th Jan 2009, 08:38
Casteroil (Synthetic) for my 320i is £16 / litre from the Spares Department in the dealer, and £16 / litre in Halfords. It's just expensive stuff. It works a treat though - our 530i has 130,000 miles and only "drinks" 500ml every 12,000 miles, and requests to be services every 22,000 miles, or so. Costs about £500 every 18 months to keep in tip-top condition. Tyres are a rip off from main dealer - I get Event Tyres to come round to Cherokee Mansions where we get 2 Continental contat sport 3s fitted for the same price as a single Dunlop at the main dealer.


15th Jan 2009, 09:44
Very interesting site on Mobil 1.

Mobil 1 Test Results (http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/mobil1.html)

15th Jan 2009, 10:10
Screen wash was another one. I only topped it up a couple of weeks ago but they still charge you for filling up the inch or two that I'd used since then.

I've nearly been caught by this one. I thought about kicking up a stink as I paid the bill with it's two or three quid added on for screen wash I knew they couldn't have added. But, being British, I just quietly seethed inside instead of making a fuss. Being a Merc main dealer, they brought the car around to the front door for me and did all the usual obsequious door opening stuff main dealers do by way of thanking you for paying them vast sums of money for servicing. I was still quietly seething over the screenwash charge as I climbed in.

There on the passenger seat was a smart blue Merc-branded carrier bag. Inside was a large bottle of screen wash concentrate with a note saying that the schedule called for it to be topped up, but they were very sorry that they were unable to do this as the reservoir was full. Please would I accept the bottle for future top ups..................


15th Jan 2009, 10:42
Now the other side of the coin.

My little Astra blew it's head gasket the day before Christmas Eve. Much depression in the Elpus family home. My partners son's best mate is a mechanic for a Vauxhall approved garage, he gave it the once over and agreed with my preliminary conclusion. He took it away and bought it back just after New Year with a new head gasket, new water pump, he changed the cam belt, obviously changed the oil and filter and even checked and topped up the coolant and washer bottle levels.

What did he charge for this.........£220! I couldn't give him the money quick enough, I asked if that was enough and he said yes, what a diamond.

15th Jan 2009, 11:24
Metro Man, to suggest affordability as a reason to spend more than necessary is a bit off. With such thinking affordability is never likely to be a position one finds them in. Not allowing you to be ripped off is much more likely to lead to being in a position of affordability.

Negotiating when buying/selling the car as well as in servicing/repair costs is good practice irrespective of an individuals wealth.

15th Jan 2009, 11:40
Used to buy only older used cars. Peugeot 404 was a good one. Fuel pump went bye-bye one day.

I had a spare. Pulled it into the garage and whipped out the tools. Old one off in three minutes, re-built new one ready to go, Hmmm,sealant,,,,hmmm RTV732 will do the job....install, install, install, prime.

Engine start. Elapsed time 12 minutes.

New cars are far too complicated for purpose......to merely go from here to there.

15th Jan 2009, 11:45
Otoh, I would be quite happy not to have to sit in my car on a cold morning, heater blasting, behind your 404 pumping out a mixture of unburnt four star & mustard gas.:p

If anyone knows a decent independent in West Sussex capable of doing a timing belt on an Audi TT, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

15th Jan 2009, 12:12
Service due on the car next week - main dealer £1000. (BMW)

Independant Specialist - £250.

Turns out that despite the service booklet saying otherwise and the manufacturer guaranteeing them for 60,000 miles plus the main dealer was planning on changing the spark plugs - (£400 alone for this)

They can go and whistle.

Also worth noting a mate of mine works for a main delaer up north - due to the difference in labour rates his mob quoted £700 (yes - again they wanted to change the plugs............)

The price of the south-east.

15th Jan 2009, 12:14
The 404 worked fine. No more pollution than normal for a 1964 car. Clutch went six months later and I didn't have a spare one of those.

Moved on to a 66 Dodge 318 station wagon (think barge). Pulled a Jeep out of a ditch with it on one very snowy winter's eve once. (think very red faced Jeep owner). Drove that for three years, no problems, then bent frame in a minor accident. Sold engine, sold roof rack, made back my purchase price.

15th Jan 2009, 12:38
I got caught by the Merc "spark plug rip-off". Garage rang me up mid-morning, after I'd taken the car in for a service, to say that the plugs needed changing and was I happy for them to go ahead. I thought it a bit odd that they should ask, as last time I bought plugs they were only a couple of quid each, so just said "yes, get on with it".

Went to pick up the car to find I'd been charged £160 for four plugs..............


15th Jan 2009, 12:50
When I had an accessory shop in the mid-sixties I introduced NGK spark plugs to the County.

Cost me £1 for a box of eight.

Gordon Fraser
15th Jan 2009, 13:14
We bought a used automatic Jaguar X 2.5 , with full service history four months ago from a major used car dealer near Leeds. We also bought an extended parts and labour warranty for £450 extra. We received a phone call on Monday this week, offering to perform next scheduled service. Checked car in yesterday for service. The dealer drove us to the nearest shopping mall and picked us up 3 hours later. The car needed a rear suspension part renewed and a new front tyre. A full 75,000 mile service performed with all fluids drained, flushed and replaced. Total bill - £288,
including parts, tyre and labour.
Guess where we're going for the next service?:ok:

15th Jan 2009, 13:18
I agree with others modern cars are difficult for DIY .
Servicing though is often straightforward check this inspect that etc .

I have had a 1972 Lotus Elan for 20 years or so and it only goes to a garge for the annual MOT . Service schedules are demanding by modern standards but access apart straight forward . I have used Mobil 1 in it for years . Annual running costs albeit on a low milage very low .

Cambelt changes on older cars were straight forward but nowadays acess can be very difficult , thats assuming you can find a workshop manual

Saab Dastard
15th Jan 2009, 13:23
forget, that's a very interesting link indeed about synthetic oil.

I get my oil in "bulk" from Opie Oils - 928 club discount plus their seasonal offers means I got 16 litres of Castrol Edge Sport Fully Synthetic 0W-40 for £7.30 a litre last October. As the 928 gulps 8 litres a time, that's about £60 for a change, plus £10 for the filter (I bought 4 from the US when the exchange was better!).

A mate with a trolley jack did the change for me, and provided the crush washer for the sump plug, for which I owe him a bottle of Scotch.

So I reckon the total for an oil and filter change on my Porsche 928 was about £90.

Don't worry, there are lots of other things about the car that eat up my£s - apart from petrol!


15th Jan 2009, 13:32
5.4L Mobil1 syn. oil for $25 - walmart

< $5.00 L
or GBP 2.50 L +/-

Sometimes I think folks living in the UK are actually somewhere off this planet.

Scumbag O'Riley
15th Jan 2009, 14:28
Re spark plugs.

Decided to change my own plugs and the one at the back was a real cow to get to but I eventually got it out. It was a different make to the other three.

Fecking garage who changed them the time before obviously couldn't be bothered to make the effort to get it out and left it in there. Still got charged for parts and labour for four of them.

It had been in there for 75k miles I reckon and was in perfect nick.


15th Jan 2009, 14:59
Wife bought a S/H RAV4 diesel the owner got it "serviced " by a main dealer before the sale .
After a few thousand miles but long before a service was due it lost power and showed fault lights .

When I checked the air and fuel filters were black and clogged looked as though they had never been changed !

15th Jan 2009, 15:12
Always buy older cars and do it myself, I know this is a bleedin' obvious & unhelpful answer but it slashes the cost of running cars & bikes and you know the job has been done properly.
At a real push, I will only ever use specialists I've checked out and been recommended by those I trust, I won't touch main stealers with a ten-foot pole, their workshops often have one experienced guy to 3 or 4 fitter monkeys ratio and you are paying for all the fancy showrooms, potplants, namebadges and uniforms etc.

Reason I know? Started off in the world as a mechanic!!

15th Jan 2009, 15:45
Ah yes, the ridculous labour costs are for the "highly-skilled,factory-trained fitters" --who are mostly 18 year old apprentices.

sled dog
15th Jan 2009, 17:27
I live outside of the UK, and the regular ( 20K kms ) service costs for my Volvo V70T5 :ok: have always been below euro 300, and that is with the main dealer. Great service, very friendly staff. Now, when i had BMWs the cost was at least twice as high, and Merc owning friends tell horror stories :{ It is the badge on the car you pay for in the long run.

Loose rivets
15th Jan 2009, 17:44
Do Haynes make a Merc SL500 manual???

Is StickandRudderman (not sure of case or spaces) still about? He's runs an independent Merc service business I think.

You've got me worried. I've got a fairly recent E500 Sport - Same engine isn't it? I haven't tried to reveal the engine yet. I'll have a look today if I can get five minutes free from remodeling the house.

The MB place in Austin have been so kind to me that I can hardly believe it. As the warranty was about to expire, they did a full service at MB's expense, even the Mobil 1 oil. Also a list of jobs as long as yer arm. They say they will work with me on doing my own brakes etc., (you have to disable the fly-by-wire system for safety reasons) and supply me with the pads at near to trade. Just could not be nicer. But, I love to tinker, and there's not even a dip-stick on this engine.

The difference in service is not between America and Home, but between garages that are run by nice people or ones who's backs are to the wall cos of taxes and other restrictive practices. The UK strangles business. Here, they hope to get $billions to help the porn industry. I thought they were kidding, but they're not!

15th Jan 2009, 19:02
I hate all the bad press us Main dealer lads get, most of the time quite deserved when you hear some of the stories, im only 22 but have been main delaer trained for 5 years on the brand and yet customers always know best about there car? not sure if this is because of all the bad stories or just because im obviously too young to know what i am talking about?! I totally agree that prices are stupid! £110 average through main dealers, just no need for it! :ugh:I am fairly quiet at the miunte though which is proably due to these stupid prices, despite all the promotions the big wigs are "running" free coffee when you spend a grand etc, anyhow rant over :mad:

15th Jan 2009, 19:13
Is it true that the main dealers may consider your service history a bit 'dodgy' if you don't use them to service the car throughout your car ownership? Or is this just what they tell us wimmin?

I have a Volvo S80. Driving over to Lux a couple of months ago, a stone hit one of the headlamps. Fortunately it was just the glass that needed replacing rather than the whole unit. It still cost £160 though. :{

cockney steve
15th Jan 2009, 19:17
Ha! I've been in the trade,as a 1-man band, repair and filling-station.

Plugs...had a regular punter for the carwash , who had a new Porsch 911
Queries the stealership's bill and asks what the hell these "plugs" were, at 20 quid a pop (about 1987 prices)....went ballistic, when told they were "spark" plugs....."but they're PLATINUM sir"....needless to say, the old ones were not left in the car...mechanics probably clipped the points to flog to the local precious-metals reclaimer.
Modern plugs have a built-in supressor,which goes high resistance and limits the plug's working life...the old sort would literally last untilthe side-electrodes burnt away. It was a real source of frustration for the makers and Champion ,among others, spent a fortune persuading us that we'd have an instant tune-up with 4 new plugs for a quid (5/- each)
Bought an XJS V12 HE once, -took 1/2 a day to change the plugs. fast, quiet, smooth and horrendously thirsty :eek:

Oil...beware putting synthetics in an older engine, they tend to be way too thin.
Most drivers never get any where near the operating limits or conditions that full synthetics are designed for-therefore it's money wasted..

Most stealerships don't make huge profits, their overheads are just too high. DBisDog One has that right- the punter pays for the coffee, pot plants, TV, settees, etc.

My "play" car is an '81 Rolls Spirit, the neighbours think i'm loaded :p

In 4 years, it's cost less than£500,including a full secondhand stainless exhaust -system. a basic 15/40 oil (couple of gallons :ooh:)

14 MPG is once-again affordable for the limited miles. Insurance, full comp. £275. Without a doubt, the most prestige, the best door-opener that can be had for less than the price of a used Mondeo.
having said that, if you don't know your way around, you can spend a fortune.

An independent at Bolton does standard service about£400...intermediate about £600 and major about £1100...That includes cars up to the BMW takeover in the late 90's...still not as dear as some(I believe Audi is over £100 AN HOUR in London :ouch: ) mad running-costs for a set of wheels.

That was the fun-bit about having a garage , I got to drive all makes and models, from a tipper-lorry, to an E-type Jaguar to a Rolls Shadow...a few vintage thoroughbreds, the odd Yank, even 3-wheelers. And, it cost me nowt to find out that most iconic vehicles are a flawed crock of crap, a triumph of image-building over reality.

15th Jan 2009, 19:37
well with service history if it hasnt been done by the current garage then they are unable to tell whats been done the previous service, so now at the brand i work for if you dont have all the items flagged up on the electronic service sheet, replaced, such as spark plugs filters etc then the book will not get stamped, suppose it allows a FSH to mean a FSH and not just only oil changes by the main stealers!

Loose rivets
15th Jan 2009, 20:28
Forums are good. Save thousands on just getting to know where spares are and how to reset computers etc.

The big old Cadillac Fleetwood that we use every day for the kids school run etc., has been very troublesome just lately. Water pump - the size of a big thing - The water pump exchange unit was $45 and took me a hunk of a day to change. Next time would be a lot quicker cos of the learning curve of what to get out of the way.

I did the front wheel bearings, brake master cylinder and recently, a rear wheel baring. That was bad news.

Typical of GM cheapness, they run the rollers ON THE AXLE. :mad::mad: and that's what wears. Surprise surprise. How the :mad: would they expect to get a bearing-hard surface on a huge half axle? Anyway, I learned that you can get an 'Axle saver'. This is a bearing that is stepped in - to use a new bit of axle. Without this, one has to buy the shaft. I've no illusions of how long it will last, but a few miles a day probably won't worry it.

All this stuff is either obvious or aided by the forums. Motoring that's fun when things go right.

My Caddy SLS was incredible. So taught and accurate to drive. Believe it or not, it had the whoomph of the E500. Serious power, and it did 33 miles to an Imperial gallon on a run - better than the MB. Sold it for $3,600 - didn't lose much after 3 years and 30k. Caddys really are a bargain, but the Northstar engine, while being a miracle of engineering, are really in the realms of the serious hobbyist if something does go wrong.

Going back to oil drain plugs. I had to use 115 ft-lbs of torque to get my N* engine plug out after "Service" from Oilcan Harry's emporium. The oil change was $15. That's not a mistake. Huge V8, and Penzoil, an oil used nation-wide. Bargain? Not if I'd bust the sump on that. The car would have been a write-off.

BTW, the correct torque for the ally sump plug, was 15 ft/lbs. :mad: I did my wire lock mod on all my cars since that day. Back to DIY:(

EDIT Just recalled that I did a blog about the A/C on the big old car. That saved $800 going by a quote I had. All info on the pressures from forum.

15th Jan 2009, 20:53
Wife's car badly needed new brake discs and pads earlier this week.
Asked her to get a garage quote as I was busy.

Quote for the job from a local rapid fit place: £223.

Spent an hour and a half changing them myself. Total cost: £58 for parts.

15th Jan 2009, 21:22
Not this punk! I just paid some breath-taking sum to have the front lower suspension arms on the wife's BMW changed. There was a bit of kick-back in the steering when the brakes were lightly applied that showed something was wrong.

The problem was just the lower ball joints left and right but I was told that the whole alloy piece needed to be changed along with a little rubber thingy that holds it in place at the rear.

The thing is, I used to work on stuff such as MGBs, VW Beetles, Volvos up through the mid-70s... Stone Age stuff, really. Somehow I just did not feel like doing my thing out in the garage just to save a couple of hundred euros and then test it by going out on the "Autobahn" to see if I had got that right. Some things are perhaps worth paying a professional to do.

cockney steve
15th Jan 2009, 23:40
Hightower, I do have some sympathy with agents,-as i said, none are making a fortune!

FSH,means ball all after a car's about 5 years old....with full history, say £1600, without, say 900.....the stealer's charges more than eat the difference.

before i entered the trade, I ran the gauntlet of lying, cheating and downright incompetent main agents.
couldn't cure wheel shimmy until car was out of warranty....then a modified steering-coupling cured it immediately.
alternator died under warranty....3 months later, died again,warranty expired
After a stand-up row,in the reception evening "rush" they returned my keys without payment....I had asked them to fetch the Managing Director to explain how a 3-month repair was reasonable or merchantable or just to "fiddle " the car through warranty.....told the throng of punters that I paid for a full service every 6-8 weeks (doing 30K a year) and they'd just lost that business.....never returned, never bought trade parts from them.

forgotto mention on last post.....old cars lose very little...the Rolls -about 2K in 4 years, if i'm really unlucky..on a good day it'll break even :)

Say again s l o w l y
16th Jan 2009, 00:09
TRSS and quality control. A grand to service your BMW???????????? Holy cow.

Mine gets looked after by a BMW specialist who is frankly the best mechanic I've ever met. He makes the local BMW main dealer oiks look like monkeys.

Oil service including all oil and 2 hrs checking over the car as she was "new to him" £60.
Inspection 1 including everything like plugs, filters, brake fuid change, pollen filter etc. £140.

He won't work on the latest models as herefuses to buy all the latest kit from BMW to reset the service indicators and other electronic gubbins. "I'm not spending 4 grand on a computer". Fair enough, but for those of us who he does look after he saves us a fortune.
It's not surprising that everyone in the BMW Car Club uses him.

£35 an hour for labour for anything else. The local main stealers charge £110.

If it wasn't for dafties or people wanting to keep their warranty (which under block exemption shouldn't matter, but people think it does.) there is no reason to use them.

16th Jan 2009, 00:54

If you go to the train station in Southampton (main side, not the Toys r Us side), there is a small independant garage there. Mike Rogers. Excellent service, job always well done, and no rip off charges.

This could make a good thread, everybody who knows great independent garage, tradespeople, etc in different areas, let every other Prooner in on the secret!

16th Jan 2009, 01:25
Sounds to me like those cooking Bimmers are falling apart left right and centre. Three pages of this broke, that wore out, the other broke. You should all know better, they're mostly fragile rubbish unless the model designation begins with the letter M! Most Jags hang together better than non-M BMWs.

One other thing, all these outrageous oil charges for Mobil 1 and Castrol Edge type sexy sounding oils? I can't recall the last time I ever saw any of those in any garage in a volume which suggested they were using any quantity of them. Generally there's just a big ol' bulk drum of cheapo semi-synthetic in the corner.... :suspect:

Loose rivets
16th Jan 2009, 07:13
Yeh, Fleet oil mate.

I ran a BMW 735 for years, gave my own company 500 quid for it after it was written down. To keep it going was not too bad, since I had one of the best used parts companies in the UK 15 miles from me doorstep. Pitman struts. Very expensive from BM, a tenner or so from this place. Got a still gold caliper like new for next to nowt and a like new disc to go with it. Yes I did match it!

Then a spring bust. Just couldn't believe my eyes. It was huge...couldn't even feel the difference when driving, but the shattered ends were about half way up. Fixing that was the most scared I've been near a car for a long time.

My spring compressor, mates spring compressor, woodwork clamps, G clamps...cotters nearly in and it started creaking. I fcuked off! :} Stood and watched it from a safe distance. When it stopped ticking, I finally pried in the bits and started to undo the clamps...sweat running off me forehead. I resolved never to do that again.

16th Jan 2009, 10:14
I am left-handed but I shave using my right hand and have done since 1972. Why is that, you may ask?

Yes, well, I was changing the struts on a car when a coil spring escaped from the spring compressor and caught me on the left hand. I had put the compressed spring there on the workbench close to my hand, not thinking it should get away like that. Wrong!

I think I said, "Darn, that HURTS!" or words to that effect before visiting the Emergency Room to have my hand, now suddenly the size of a small cantaloupe, X-rayed.

Nothing was broken but I couldn't use it for anything much for about a week so that I learned how to shave with my right hand. Now I find I can shave better that way than left-handed, an interesting example of "muscle memory" and a reminder of why I prefer not to work on my own vehicles.

Even the humble BMW motorcycle is loaded with its portion of chips! I once managed to fall off, when the front wheel speed no longer matched the rear wheel speed. This triggered a malfunction signal to the ABS so that I had to visit the garage to have them hook up the diagnostic computer to the bike's Cannon plug and reset everything. (It turns out that I could have simply disconnected the battery, waited five minutes and reconnected it to get the same effect, clearing all the error messages.)

I know first-hand that many mechanics are thieving toe-rags, yes. I worked with a few who were out-and-out robbers. That said, there are others who take a lot of pride in doing good work for a fair price. The trick is to find a good one!

Not that it cuts any ice with me when it comes to paying fantastic prices but many dealers are having a very hard time right now. Our local BMW dealer went bankrupt AND was caught scamming the insurers for replacing broken windscreens. (This is a German thing, when the insurers usually seem to pay for that with no questions asked. This time, though, someone noticed that this dealer seemed to be having most of his cars needing new windscreens. After that it must have been just a matter of checking with BMW to see how many new windscreens had been delivered compared to how many had been billed.) The man lost his business and he's probably going to jail to boot. "Oh, boo-hoo," you may think but you can see how he ended up in this situation when he really just wanted to sell and service cars.

We recently got a letter from this very dealership, now under new ownership, politely informing us that the car was due for its biennial safety and emissions inspections. We could have the car picked up from home, taken away for this work, cleaned inside and out and brought back... for a price.

I drove to the village Ford dealer, dropped the car off and walked home, since these inspections are carried out by the same men at all the local garages. (They are independents, not employed by the garages.) At the Ford dealer (not a main dealer at all) there is no beautiful showroom with ferns, leather chairs and an espresso machine in the waiting area but just two chairs and a table piled with local village newspapers and old dog-breeding magazines. There was no free cleaning and drop-off either... but about 40 euros saved!

16th Jan 2009, 10:23
I'd never touch coil springs for the reasons LR elucidated so well. I've done just about everything else to cars though over the years. learnt my way on a mini like so many teenagers before me. Once you've nailed the principles, the rest is a matter of brain power & a Haynes.

(For some reason, we always called Haynes manuals Dereks, as in pass the Derek. I have no idea why)

One that stands out is removing the CV joints from a Honda Civic. It was the one weak point on those - they were otherwise unburstable cars, however, it took a ten pound club hammer & an act of faith to get them off. That was the one job where I was sure the car would slide off the axle stands & kill me. Never again.

16th Jan 2009, 11:28
Sounds to me like those cooking Bimmers are falling apart left right and centre. Three pages of this broke, that wore out, the other broke. You should all know better, they're mostly fragile rubbish unless the model designation begins with the letter M! Most Jags hang together better than non-M BMWs.

One other thing, all these outrageous oil charges for Mobil 1 and Castrol Edge type sexy sounding oils? I can't recall the last time I ever saw any of those in any garage in a volume which suggested they were using any quantity of them. Generally there's just a big ol' bulk drum of cheapo semi-synthetic in the corner....

I'd hardly call three lightbulb failures in three years "falling apart" :rolleyes:

Regarding oil, many cars have 10,000 mile oil changes as the norm, or as indicated by the car's electronic brain depending on the type of driving carried out (Beemers work on fuel flow). It's important to use the correct oils because cheaper ones are possibly not up to those mileages.

On a previous thread I mentioned that I often carry out an interim oil and filter change myself as cheap engine insurance and was shot at by some who claimed to know better. If some garages are NOT using the correct oils, my precaution is even more justified. However, I've seen no evidence to back up such a claim. Having said that, if I found any garage using cheaper oil in my car and charging me for an extended life one, my first stop would be the Trading Standards Dept.

Supermarket oils are often reclaimed oil, btw. I wouldn't use them because I believe there is no such thing as "cheap oil". Cheap in the tin short term maybe, but possibly very expensive at the engine repair shop in the long term.

16th Jan 2009, 11:36
(Beemers work on fuel flow).

Mileage + Number of cold engine starts.

16th Jan 2009, 12:02
Mileage + Number of cold engine starts.
I understood that was the previously the case (OBD 1 equipped cars) but that the logic was later changed because data on fuel flow / used is more straightforward to log. A cold start results in mixture enrichment and is reflected in extra fuel flow.

However, my point was really to do with extended oil changes....

16th Jan 2009, 14:11
No, neither would I say that's 'falling apart' at all, ST.

Ones like yours seem to be the exception rather than the rule though. I seem to keep hearing about BMWs with bits, particularly suspension bits, wearing out unreasonably early. As cases in point, I've driven a 1 and a 5 series, both with modest mileage, recently which both had various clonks, rattles and a general feeling of slackness in the suspension. Maybe they've gone a little too far with cost cutting on newer models and the early onset of such things is the price.

mr fish
16th Jan 2009, 14:27
a friend of my son uses STRAWBERRY 2 stroke oil in his peugeot moped.
i warned him it was destroying his engine and he should switch to a good synthetic.
" i was going to, but girls love the smell" was his reply!!!
oh to be 18 again!!!

Effluent Man
16th Jan 2009, 14:33
If it's any consolation the Main Dealers don't confine it to the general public.We sold a Fiat Stilo that had the airbag light on.It's a common fault caused by a faulty pressure pad in the fabric of the passenger seat.We booked the car in and were quoted to do the job (£214+VAT)

When I collected it and saw the bill was £254+VAT I queried it. "Diagnostic charge" I was told."But I told you what the fault was when I booked the car in,you didn't have to diagnose the fault just fix it" was my jolly rejoinder.Blank look from girl with piece of tin in lip worrying about who might have won Celebrity X files on ice.

16th Jan 2009, 14:56
Had my Audi SatNav system replaced yesterday, took them 20 minutes including the drive to and from the workshop.

labour - £50.00

parts - £1300!

16th Jan 2009, 15:25
As BMW reliability seems to be a topic, if you have a 320d model from 2005 and earlier, it might be worth researching this topic. The engine has a habit of snapping the swirlflap mechanism in the intake manifold and sucking it in - leading to new engine. BMW have increased the shaft diameter on newer engines, and in fact went through a stage of using the old part number manifolds with the updated swirlflap.... but of course, officially there is no problem.

The solution: Either remove the swirlflap completely (reduced torque at low RPM), buy a new manifold, or hope for the best and if the worst does happen fingers crossed for a goodwill payment.

Also while you are at it replace the crankcase breather system with the new vortex type.

I'm glad I don't own that particular type of BMW.

16th Jan 2009, 16:04
Had my Audi SatNav system replaced yesterday, took them 20 minutes including the drive to and from the workshop.

Bet you regret being able to find the workshop now.... ;)

Most troublesome car I've ever owned was a Toyota (engine management totally untrustworthy), the next a Nissan and after that a 1970 Triumph, but I knew that was an old banger when I bought it when it was a rusty seven years old. All three BMWs I've had have been just the opposite.

Loose rivets
16th Jan 2009, 18:11
In defense of BMW, I should confess that it was a 5speed manual, lowered suspension etc., all original spec. On the (then) quiet roads at night, I drove it just as hard as it would go. It was probably as near to an exact match in performance as the Toyota Supra.

The afore-mentioned caliper was a sight to behold. Four piston, and had to be split in two for rebuild. When the brakes were all up to spec, it stopped like it was burrowing into the ground.

All in all, it was a wonderful car, "That huge Germanic Tank!" the Rivetess would call it. Not being able to lower the wheel into my lap always irked me however, and trying to make the battery last the nine years was a bit hopeful, but apart from that, it cost almost nowt to run. It would have cost almost nowt in depreciation if it hadn't been the first car of three that I've had jumped on. Bloke came a long way to buy it, but the damage was done, and he went home with his draft.:( Popped it out with a beam of wood stood on the engine. Could hardly see it had been bent.

Oooo...supposed to be boxing in me house, neighbor's dogs are visiting and eating the cat food. TTFN