Consumer Reports: High Prices and Poor Repairs Lead Top Auto-Service Gripes
These are the main reasons that car owners become dissatisfied with auto repair shops.
Prices that are too high and an inability to perform repairs properly are the main reasons that car owners become dissatisfied with auto repair shops. That's the findings of recent subscriber surveys conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Other common reasons are that a shop took longer than expected to complete the work or owners had to bring the car back because the repair didn't "hold up."
Every year in our Annual Auto Survey, we ask car owners how satisfied they were with auto repairs performed by dealerships and independent shops in the previous 12 months. This year, we got responses on 168,000 vehicles. As in past years, most car owners prefer taking their vehicles to independent shops rather than dealerships for repair work. Those who prefer independents the most are owners of Chrysler, Dodge, Jaguar, Jeep, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo vehicles, who, as a group, tended to be less satisfied with dealership repairs than owners of most other brands.
For the first time, we also re-contacted 5,400 of the respondents and asked about their specific repair gripes. Of that group, about three-quarters were either completely or very satisfied with their repair shop. But of the 27 percent who weren't, 38 percent cited high prices as a reason. This is a more common complaint for dealerships (42 percent) than for independent shops (32 percent).
The second most-common complaint is even more troubling: over a quarter of the unsatisfied group said their car's problem wasn't fixed properly, this gripe was reported at the same rate at dealers and independent shops.
Other gripes: Twenty-one percent of those respondents said it took longer than expected to complete the work, and 18 percent said they had to bring the car back because the repair did not "hold up." Again, dealers and independents shared the blame for these complaints almost evenly. There was a slight difference between the two types of repair shops in owners who felt the staff had treated them poorly, with 8 percent citing dealerships and four percent citing independents.
|Reasons for being less than 'very' or 'completely satisfied' with a repair||%|
|Price was too high||38|
|Did not fix problem properly||28|
|Took longer than expected to complete the work||21|
|Had to bring car back because repair did not 'hold up'||18|
|Price was more than originally estimated||11|
|Car was not clean when I picked it up||8|
|Sold me unnecessary parts or service||7|
|Treated poorly by staff||6|
|Had to wait more than 30 minutes after being told car was ready for pick-up||4|
|Did not honor my warranty||4|
|Staff tried to take advantage of me because of my gender||3|
|Did not honor a coupon or advertised special||2|
|Base: Those not highly satisfied with a repair in past 12 months.|
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These and other reasons are why I quit working at shops and started working on my own. Tired of the "games" played by shop owners, and the rip-off schemes they play on customers and techs. I got tired of babysitting bad and inexperienced techs and shop owners. Find a good and honest tech, and stick with them the rest of your life.
It's a shame that the irony of both this story along with the Ford park assist technology being displayed on the same page will be overlooked by so many. That park assist feature as well as crash avoidance systems and other new technology today require independent shops to purchase the same scan tools and software that a dealership uses if they intend to service these systems should one of them ever develop a problem. That's a huge expense for just one manufacturer for the independent technician and today we don't even own the tool anymore, we only get a license to use the softwear for a given period of time. Worse yet when the license expires the tool turns off until it's renewed. The problem is, that expense gets repeated for each manufacturer the shop chooses to try and support.
To have stories written like this one where these details are not explained to the consumers and to see the kinds of things that were stressed including the assertion that we are overpriced, when in fact we are barely staying in business because of how much our costs have skyrocketed is an insult. If consumers think repairs take too long now, just wait until you see what the mass reduction in the number of shops and technicians does in the next decade. Combine that with the fact that it takes decades to learn to be the kind of technician that can handle the robotics in todays cars (Yea, robotics, that's what park assist is) and the fact that technician wages and working conditions don't let us routinely attract the kind of talented youth that we really need coming into the trade, and you get to see that this article will be even more self serving in the future. In otherwords if you think it's bad now, just wait till attrition of the current workforce, combined with an ever greater lack of competition for the dealerships which will then be the only place that you will be able to go for servicing problems with these systems does for the survey. Consumers, you'll get to wait as long as it takes and they will get to charge whatever they want to because they won't have competition and you won't have a choice.
I am not a Auto Tech. I have family and friends who are. Over the last 40 years I heard it all. Too expensive, took too long. I was ripped off. Please!!! Lets keep in mind that Independants and Dealerships have huge overhead. Tools, equipment. (A smog test machine can cost over $250,000 and has to be recalibrated by independant services constantly). And lets not even get into the 'bad' checks written by so called victims. Do you see the shop owner driving a car anywhere near the cost of the one their repairing. With Hazmat and pollution requirements the costs are so extreme that some shops can no longer pay their own bills. No one likes a dishonest person, that includes Customers by the way. I understand 58Geronimo's statement. It's sometimes true. Not any one mechanic could possibly know everything about every car made. Do you know any one Doctor who knows all things medical. Thats why the shop Techs usually help each other out. The bottom line is taking care of the Customer after all. The thing with auto repair is that for most persons they have only a vague idea whats beating under the hood. If you follow your Owner's Manuel cars can run for years. What I have seen and heard is that for most issues the owner didn't take responability for the car's maintaince in the first place. Cars cost money, Pool services cost money, Home maintainence costs money. If you choose to ignore that fact then look out!. Hang on to your family Tech.
I have run into this several times, and believe it or not it was where Mexican mechanics were working. One time after installing shocks they didnt put on a dust boot on the passenger side shock thinking "who in there right mind would ever look" Big surprise I'm a retired mechanic and I looked it was just left off, to find that it was not in the box because the last mechanic took it for his job. Pep Boys hires what looks like illegals or just mechanics that work on junk which mine was not, be wary.
In the same shop the first time after an oil change the mechanic pulled out my barely dirty air filter and wanted to sell me a new one. I said no, when I checked the air box he never put all the clamps back on the air box as to help foul up the throttle body.
Watch the dealerships I found them shorting my truck 1 quart of oil this happened in two Ford dealerships. Most think again "who in the right mind would even check their oil, the oil guns normally dispense 5 quarts my truck takes 6. Always check you oil after even if its so light colored its hard to see.
Im sorry that auto repair has come to this as written by katbite below, I remember my shade tree mechanic days with points, plugs and carburetors'. Could do a brake job or timing chain, water pump etc.
Its turned into a big money game again with the tech stuck in the middle, we all do enjoy the latest tech but at what expense.
Another one sided, biased piece of "journalism'' from MSN. Yes, I'll be the first to admit there are and will always be theives out there, just like in any other profession.
I can honestly say after 30 years as a dealership technician, I've met maybe a handful of dishonest people and they never last long in this business.
As far as repair quality, do a lot of consumers realize what makes a modern vehicle run? We are talking up to 50 onboard computers. It might take up to 5 computers to start the engine, turn on the headlights, the A/C or just unlock the doors. The modern technician has to be an expert on navigation, audio, telecommunication, video, cellular as well as the mechanical aspects. I attend at least 100 hours per year in training just to stay current.
There almost no young people coming into the industry, let alone any with a good work ethic. Think things are bad now? Wait about 10 years when my generation of technicians have retired.
I can honestly say that I love what I do and I still enjoy it immensely. I have always given my best to my customers, treated them fairly and with respect and will do so until I turn my last wrench.
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