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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!

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?

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
Car servicing nightmare stories
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.

Southmouth 6:37 pm 29 Oct 14

I bought a new Toyota 4×4 diesel. It was excellent until the first winter. It developed a knock in the engine for the first km or so each frosty morning. I kept taking it in to the dealer but the noise would be gone by the time I got there. The vehicle had around 15000km on it at the time and I was getting a tad cranky. Eventually they said they would keep it overnight to test it cold. The verdict? They had been using the wrong grade of oil in it. He pointed to the drum in the corner and said “we usually get the oil for our services out of that drum but it turns out your engine needs special oil”. So I was getting charged for the good stuff and getting the crap. Very common practice this. Usually no short term symptoms though.
I do my own servicing these days.

house_husband 1:13 pm 29 Oct 14

I’ve tended to do all my own servicing after the warranty has expired and never had a problem. At dealerships had the usual stripped threads, loose wheel nuts, incorrect oil invoiced so never sure if they’ve used the right stuff, etc.

But one thing I would encourage people to check is what they are actually getting with capped price servicing. I own a new Ford and a new Subaru, both of which are covered by capped price servicing.

On the prices charged the Ford appears to be so much cheaper to run until you read the fine print. It only covers basic things like oil, filter and sparkplugs. If you want timing belts, brake fluid, coolant, wheels rotated, etc that costs extra. The Subaru has higher prices but includes everything that is specified as mandatory for that service such as coolant at 50k.

I knew what I was getting into with both cars but it should be mandatory that when car manufacturers quote prices for capped price servicing it includes all items that are specific as mandatory for that particular service. Otherwise it is bordering on deceptive and misleading conduct.

Rollersk8r 12:56 pm 29 Oct 14

I generally find mechanics to be like chefs – the majority are cranky with no interest in the customer service side of things.

Recently tried my local service station, literally 600m down the road – and made a point of saying I just live up the street and I’m looking for someone new to regularly service my cars. The bloke couldn’t have cared less, seemed annoyed at taking on my business…

Personal worst was Ultratune years ago. Paid something like $800 to have a thermostat replaced, to stop coolant leaking. Problem was never fixed, although car was written off before the true source could ever be found…

dungfungus 12:48 pm 29 Oct 14

Lube Mobile are the best and cheapest and they do it at your home so you can watch every move if you are that way inclined.
No need to wait for a week for a booking either.

Felix the Cat 12:35 pm 29 Oct 14

Been taking my car to Ultra Tune Belconnnen for years and never had a problem. Always ring you before if anything extra needs doing.

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