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Car servicing nightmare stories

By TailgaterHater 29 October 2014 25

It’s hard finding a decent place to get your car serviced, or is it? There’s a lot to be said for DIY basic servicing such as oil/filter changes, belts, brake pads etc if you are capable and have the equipment (as I do and have done for many years). However, if your car is still under warranty you are obliged to get it done by an authorised service agent, be it the dealer or someone else who will not void your warranty.  So you cop the excessive fee under fear of something going wrong with your vehicle in the future and needing warranty work.

Here’s an example: Some months back I took our car to a ‘car care’ centre in Canberra’city’ – in Braddon to be exact – and after I got it home I checked the oil. Interestingly, the vehicle takes 4.3 litres including the filter and I was charged for 4.3 litres. However, I put exactly .3 litres of oil into the car at home to take it to the full mark on the dipstick. Whilst a bit annoyed at being ripped off at the time and their lack of care, I got over it.

So last weekend I changed the oil and filter myself – the first time it hasn’t been done by someone authorised as it is now out of warranty – and the lack of care by the last mob who serviced it came to light. The sump plug was so tight I had to get some pipe over the socket bar to undo it! Yes they need to be tight, but not at the point where it threatens to strip the thread, remembering that the sump housing is only alloy metal anyway so can be easily damaged.

Then it came to taking off the old oil filter. Filters do tend to tighten up over time, but never in my almost 40 years of servicing cars have I had so much trouble getting an old filter off. I reckon it must have been also screwed on within an inch of stripping its thread too!

Talking to a mate who also takes pride in maintaining his own vehicles, we agreed that the garage probably used a rattle gun to tighten the sump plug and the heavy handedness of the filter was poor practice at the least (and I’m being kind here)!

So, alledged “we take care of your car” places like this one in Braddon probably do them like an assembly line and really don’t give a care at all!

So people, go take a basic motor maintenance course and you will do it better and save yourself money too.

Would love to hear about other people’s experiences although I suspect that most people who have their cars serviced at such places won’t know how poorly treated their vehicles are?


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Car servicing nightmare stories
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cantdance 8:03 pm 10 Nov 14

Once upon a time I tried Midas for a minor fix needed on my car. My husband picked it up, drove to the end of their driveway and while waiting to pull out onto the road…. BANG! And the car caught fire. Can’t recall what caused it off the top of my head but Midas took full responsibility.

I used Lube Mobile once for a different car, somehow they managed to get fluid of some kind splattered all up the garage roller door.

And lastly, an independent garage did some work to sort out an engine that had started missing. All sorted, I picked up the car and went to the shops. Down the road the engine made a horrible noise so I stopped, called out roadside rescue who found bolts loose or missing from the engine and no oil.

I’ve been though many many cars in my life so far, thankfully only these three issues!!

G_A 8:52 am 01 Nov 14

I used to own a small Mazda sports car and had religiously taken it back to a Mazda dealer for servicing, every now and again it didn’t feel like it had been serviced properly and in the end I asked around and was recommended to a place in Fyshwick that was a mazda-sport rotary specialist. I took my car there for a service and it just hummed, so never looked back from there. So maybe look for a similar enthusiast who owns their own business based on a passion and isn’t a production line system.

Gungahlin_Bob 1:06 am 01 Nov 14

Repco (Niall) in Mitchell are quite good with later model cars. (I have a VE Commodore)

I have a lost faith in dealer servicing (similar to other stories regarding cross threading bolts, etc) and find the extra cost gets you nothing extra.

To provide a real story, Repco on servicing my car, found that the dealer had left part of the gasket on the head near Cylinder 5 when they replaced it the gasket (as part of servicing the timing chain) and had been there for quite a while)….

Anyhow back to Repco….seem to be decent people…yeah sure, especially with the computer / sensors in the cars nowadays, it may take a little effort to resolve issues, but the guys there appear to live in the real world and recognise that not every one can afford to get everything done at once….and we have budgets…..

Now I have some trust…..I now regularly get it serviced there….it has been running nicely since…..and the advice so far has been spot on….

Regards

Gungahlin_Bob

JC 12:18 am 01 Nov 14

dungfungus said :

TailgaterHater said :

Thanks everyone for your comments – keep them coming too please.

dungfungus – I had Lube Mobile do my car in Queanbeyan about 6 years ago – arranged it when I was working away so it needed to be done for the wife to continue motoring along – and I was charged for 5 litres when that car took 4.5 litres, so I figured they probably skim a bit of profit on each service. I thought at the time I should have had the 1/2 litre left behind but it wasn’t. So Lube mobile are off my ‘to use’ list.

magiccar9 – your experience at Slaven Mazda Phillip mirrors mine, especially the tyres rotation not being done (and being ticked as done) – what else was not done we might ask? It is where we got the car from and they only did the 10,000 km service and I wouldn’t take it back there after that.

Like I said, if people learned to do basic maintenance themsleves they would save themselves a lot of money and avoid the stress of incompetent and uncaring dealers and garages.

Re the surplus half-litre of oil, some people would be grateful that the container and the oil was taken away. What is the average punter going to do with it anyhow, pour it down an ant’s nest?
I am sure if you phoned the mechanic and told him you wanted it he would be happy to return it. I think you are being a bit harsh in your judgement.

Do you believe that when they fill your car with oil that they just use the one container? Seriously, they would fill up your car and any left over fill part of the next. It isn’t a matter of getting the extra 1/2 litre, but being charged for it when it is more than likely being used elsewhere. Moreso at garages who buy oil in 200l drums.

Tonni 8:48 pm 31 Oct 14

I don’t trust a lot of the dealers around Canberra and being a woman I think a lot of them take advantage of that, however recently I took my car to have the airconditioning to be repaird at EVERLAST IN Kembla street and I was so impressed from the young lady on the phone that booked it in right thru to the mechanics. Not only did they repair my aircon they also serviced my car and explained everything in plain english then handed me the bill and I didnt haveto take out a personal loan. I was so impressed with the whole experience I just had to share and I will be taking my car back there again.

cavvygreen 3:48 pm 31 Oct 14

We bought a new VW Golf wagon. Love the car but hated the the service. We drove from Canberra to Gold Coast 2 days after having the wagon serviced. Got a flat tyre, called roadside assist and the NRMA turned up. He couldn’t fix it because the wheel nut spanner hadn’t been replaced after service. VW use a unusual spanner and he didn’t have one.
Luckily we saw a guy going past in a new VW, who stopped and lent us his spanner which luckily was the right one. We went to the local dealer a few days later to get a new spanner
I’d hate to think what would have happened if we’d got a flat in the outback.
We now have the car serviced at Fisher Car Care. They are excellent.

dungfungus 8:43 am 31 Oct 14

Rollersk8r said :

Actually I have a problem right now – engine and VSC lights have been coming on sporadically in my Toyota for about the last year. Have taken it in to Toyota probably 6 times. They simply say: yes we noted the error codes, could not find a problem during road testing, turned off the warning lights.

Once or twice the auto transmission has had a delayed response, i.e. engine spins and gear engages 2 or 3 seconds later. Toyota said it’s a sign of transmission problems and the first step is to replace transmission problems, which they did, $200.

Warning lights are still coming on…

If it is a diesel you are probably having problems with the diesel particulate filter which plays havoc with the vehicles engine management computer.
The manufacturers and the the dealers don’t want to talk about it though but eventually (about the time warranty expires) you will be told a new DPF filter is required at a cost of about $3,000 upwards.
In the meantime expect a lot of “limp home modes”.

switch 9:01 pm 30 Oct 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

My biggest gripe is with tire service centers. Next time you get a flat, you can’t undo the bolts because your tire iron has bent over after you jumped on it, but didn’t undo the nut. Why do they have to tighten them so hard? I bet they have a deal with roadside assistance who come to the rescue with a compressor and rattle gun..

I carry a length of gal pipe to put over the wheel nut spanner to give a bit of extra leverage. There’s always a horrible groan from the studs as the nut starts to move. Hope they have the tensile strength rating necessary to take the force they are put on with at the servo.

Our old Pajero never needs an oil change, I put in at least a litre a month, always keeping it fresh:)

Self-changing oil system!

justin heywood 7:52 pm 30 Oct 14

TailgaterHater said :

… I was charged for 5 litres when that car took 4.5 litres, so I figured they probably skim a bit of profit on each service. I thought at the time I should have had the 1/2 litre left behind but it wasn’t. So Lube mobile are off my ‘to use’ list.

Wow. You must believe they operate on pretty thin margins if you think they’re saving up all those half-litres of oil they’ve skimmed off people.

FWIW I used LubeMobile once a few years back and was happy with the service and especially the convenience.

Occasional incompetence by some mechanics is unavoidable; we are dealing with hassled humans and complex and varied machinery, so mistakes are inevitable.

For mine, over-servicing is where the big money is made (mostly by dealers), and big money lost by consumers. A large percentage servicing decisions are made by people who aren’t personally paying the bill, so it’s no surprise that there is a tendency to over-service.

And this mindset continues for privately owned vehicles as well. If you roll up to a service department in a suit and look like you wouldn’t know a camshaft from a conrod, it’s surprising how often you get a friendly call later in the day telling you that extra work is required.
(Water pump leak, pads/rotors worn etc seems to be a favourite)

wildturkeycanoe 6:12 pm 30 Oct 14

My biggest gripe is with tire service centers. Next time you get a flat, you can’t undo the bolts because your tire iron has bent over after you jumped on it, but didn’t undo the nut. Why do they have to tighten them so hard? I bet they have a deal with roadside assistance who come to the rescue with a compressor and rattle gun..

Our old Pajero never needs an oil change, I put in at least a litre a month, always keeping it fresh:)

TailgaterHater 4:13 pm 30 Oct 14

dungfungus – Re: “the surplus half-litre of oil, some people would be grateful that the container and the oil was taken away. What is the average punter going to do with it anyhow, pour it down an ant’s nest?”

I would use it to top up the oil level between oil changes as it wasn’t a new car. Instead I had to buy oil that I wouldn’t have had to buy if it was left as it should have been. I also specified a specific oil so I don’t expect what they used came out of a 200 litre drum, so there should have been a container.

Rollersk8r 2:41 pm 30 Oct 14

Actually I have a problem right now – engine and VSC lights have been coming on sporadically in my Toyota for about the last year. Have taken it in to Toyota probably 6 times. They simply say: yes we noted the error codes, could not find a problem during road testing, turned off the warning lights.

Once or twice the auto transmission has had a delayed response, i.e. engine spins and gear engages 2 or 3 seconds later. Toyota said it’s a sign of transmission problems and the first step is to replace transmission problems, which they did, $200.

Warning lights are still coming on…

dungfungus 1:43 pm 30 Oct 14

TailgaterHater said :

Thanks everyone for your comments – keep them coming too please.

dungfungus – I had Lube Mobile do my car in Queanbeyan about 6 years ago – arranged it when I was working away so it needed to be done for the wife to continue motoring along – and I was charged for 5 litres when that car took 4.5 litres, so I figured they probably skim a bit of profit on each service. I thought at the time I should have had the 1/2 litre left behind but it wasn’t. So Lube mobile are off my ‘to use’ list.

magiccar9 – your experience at Slaven Mazda Phillip mirrors mine, especially the tyres rotation not being done (and being ticked as done) – what else was not done we might ask? It is where we got the car from and they only did the 10,000 km service and I wouldn’t take it back there after that.

Like I said, if people learned to do basic maintenance themsleves they would save themselves a lot of money and avoid the stress of incompetent and uncaring dealers and garages.

Re the surplus half-litre of oil, some people would be grateful that the container and the oil was taken away. What is the average punter going to do with it anyhow, pour it down an ant’s nest?
I am sure if you phoned the mechanic and told him you wanted it he would be happy to return it. I think you are being a bit harsh in your judgement.

Antagonist 12:44 pm 30 Oct 14

I took my car to a tyre dealer in Tuggeranong (who will remain nameless) just over the road from the police station to have $900 of tyres fitted in April 2013. It had cheap Nankang tyres on the back that were scary dangerous. I got the car back with a bashed FPV rim and bent axle – presumably because they did a burnout and hit the gutter before fitting my new tyres. Naturally, they claimed to know nothing about the $2000 damage they caused to my car. NEVER going back there again after more than 10 years as a loyal customer.

TailgaterHater 9:02 am 30 Oct 14

Thanks everyone for your comments – keep them coming too please.

dungfungus – I had Lube Mobile do my car in Queanbeyan about 6 years ago – arranged it when I was working away so it needed to be done for the wife to continue motoring along – and I was charged for 5 litres when that car took 4.5 litres, so I figured they probably skim a bit of profit on each service. I thought at the time I should have had the 1/2 litre left behind but it wasn’t. So Lube mobile are off my ‘to use’ list.

magiccar9 – your experience at Slaven Mazda Phillip mirrors mine, especially the tyres rotation not being done (and being ticked as done) – what else was not done we might ask? It is where we got the car from and they only did the 10,000 km service and I wouldn’t take it back there after that.

Like I said, if people learned to do basic maintenance themsleves they would save themselves a lot of money and avoid the stress of incompetent and uncaring dealers and garages.

arescarti42 8:21 am 30 Oct 14

TahniaL said :

Jaws automotive in Phillip is great! They were very honest and reasonably priced!

If you take your car to the dealership, you’re probably asking for trouble.

There’s a number of decent to great independent smaller auto mechanics around.

TahniaL 10:18 pm 29 Oct 14

Jaws automotive in Phillip is great! They were very honest and reasonably priced!

magiccar9 9:55 pm 29 Oct 14

Recently had my car serviced by Slaven Mazda in Phillip. Have been taking the car there since new. Sure I was probably paying a little more but it gave me the peace of mind.
Anyway, service before last, driving home I noticed an oil smell through the vents. Opened the bonnet and there was oil all over the engine cover and everywhere through the engine bay. Took it back to them the next day and was told “that will just burn off with the heat”. I insisted on them cleaning it up, and as a result they covered half the front of the car in degreaser. Still no apology from the service team.

Suffice to say the latest service I was a let down again. I have been able to prove they didn’t carry out numerous paid services including tyre rotation, air pressure checks, and I have doubts surrounding several others.

Looking forward in the coming days to letting their service manager know they won’t be seeing my vehicle anymore.

curmudgery 8:56 pm 29 Oct 14

I had a Toyota people mover, fuel injected, serviced in Phillip. Tried to drive it into Civic that night but the engine stopped and petrol was gushing from underneath.

You know the clamping pliers they use to clamp off the high pressure fuel line? It was still attached – and the fuel line burst. The NRMA bloke had a few things to say …

I took it back the next day for a new fuel line (and to return their pliers) – they made the mechanic wash and vacuum my vehicle during his lunch break.

That’s fair enough I thought, and continued to take ‘The Velocipede’ to them for major services.

AR610 8:17 pm 29 Oct 14

I usually maintain my small fleet myself, which includes my partners brand new Civic, my ancient Datsun my Dads diesel Peugeot and a few others for family and friends. I won a gift voucher in a raffle at my sons school, and took the civic to Car Mechanical Services in fisher for its 100,000 k service. And, naturally, I checked everything when I got the car back. All done, all good, nothing missed. High distinction for those guys.

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