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  #1  
Old 04-23-2000, 08:52 PM
Nick Jamal
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Is this a DIY-type job on an 86 300E? And while we're at it, for those of you that don't have the advantage of a hydraulic life in the garage, does the four-jackstands-keeping-me-from dying-an-ugly-ugly-death thing make you feel secure (insecure!)? I haven't spent much time under the car except for oil changes...
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  #2  
Old 04-23-2000, 09:05 PM
MikeTangas's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
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The four jackstands always left me feeling very secure. That is until I moved to California. Now after 15 years in sunny southern CA, I am uneasy when ever I work under a car, because you never know when the ground is gonna shake, sometimes mild, sometimes not. And if that movement will collapse building and overpasses, it surely will collapse, or knock over jackstands. Now I work very quick and with as little of me under the car as possible.

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Mike Tangas
73 280 SEL
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  #3  
Old 04-23-2000, 09:16 PM
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Location: New Bedford, MA USA
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Nick, probably not a good idea (jackstands) for this job. You've got to drop the driveshaft, center bearing, etc. to get this done. There is a fair amount of torqueing that needs to be done to r&r this item. It's really a clumsy and potentially dangerous undertaking (no pun) while lying on your back.

------------------
Jeff L
1987 300e
1989 300e
1987 BMW 325
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  #4  
Old 04-23-2000, 10:17 PM
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You can do this without taking out the center support, you have to take a big pry bar and slide the shaft back, then pop of the detents. I'd let a tech do this though. It has different bolt lengths and the disc has to be installed in one direction.

------------------
Benzmac:
Donnie Drummonds
1992 500E (very soon I hope
1981 280GE SWB
ASE CERTIFIED MASTER AUTO TECHNICIAN
SERVICE MANAGER FOR 14 BAY FACILITY
MERCEDES SPECIALIST 8 YRS
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  #5  
Old 04-23-2000, 10:24 PM
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Donnie, would you try this one lying on your back??

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Jeff L
1987 300e
1989 300e
1987 BMW 325
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  #6  
Old 04-23-2000, 11:56 PM
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Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
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i had mine done recently by an independent MB shop for under $300.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2000, 07:02 AM
hamish
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Hi ,
I had this done by the dealer as it was too much hassle without a ramp.It only cost $60 inc tax for labour which was only 0.7hrs which seemed a bargain as it would have taken me .7hrs to put it up on stands!!!!!
Do UK techs work faster or do USA dealers just book more hours?
HAMISH
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2000, 07:47 AM
MB Shop Retiree
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Hockessin, DE
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With parts and everything, the entire project on my car costed $280 including parts and labor. I believe that the US dealers are slower. See I usually pay more becuase I only have one mechanic work on my car, and he has been working on it since day one. He knows me and I know him, but the dealers has him work on other cars while they might be waiting to get a part of something. The Techs at our dealer are really over worked.

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Chirag (Charlie) Patel

- 99 Mercedes-Benx ML 430 V8 w/custom TV, Video, UHF, speaker system
- 93 190E 2.6 (4-sale) w/ an amp, equalizer, and CD-changer, integrated w. stock stereo for integrated cellular phone speaker system
- had a 93 190E m103 3.2, 5-speed trans,
- had a 88 300E 2.6
- had a 84 300TD w/275k+ miles
- 2001 C-Class - Maybe (if 190E sells)
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  #9  
Old 04-25-2000, 08:56 AM
LarryBible
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hamish,

GREAT QUESTION ! !

Wouldn't it be interesting to see the flat rate time charts given in the US, compared to the same operations given in the UK books.

I've always believed in the Flat Rate system. The customer is protected from being overcharged in the event of a slow technician, or some kind of billing hanky panky, while the tech's have an opportunity to make reasonable money (which they deserve) by working hard.

But it would be very interesting to see if the same times are given for the same operations worldwide.

Have a great day,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles


PS: Wait a minute, my above statement is making the assumption that the flat rate system is used in the UK. hamish, is this so, or do the shops there just charge time spent, whatever it may be?
LB

[This message has been edited by LarryBible (edited 04-25-2000).]
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  #10  
Old 04-25-2000, 11:06 AM
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Location: Gainesville FL
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Boy, would the fur fly if you open a Flat-rate discussion on any of the tech only sites.

Unfortunately I totally disagree about flat-rate helping the consumer. I will give you some examples. Our shop pays salary (actually hourly w/overtime). Our ten technicians (who have an average seniority in our business of over ten years) average billing 35 hours each per week. They all work hard. Seven of them are ASE masters.

I have a friend that works at the local Toyota dealer no one there has worked over 3 years there. They get paid anywhere from 10-16 dollars a flat rate hour. So I asked him... Wow that means you guys need to bill 80 hours a week to make the same amount as my guys. He said ... no problem. Now I will let your imagination wander as to how those techs with a carrot in their face manage to bill over two times as much work as my techs.

Part of the reason is they work on a very limited range of vehicles for simliar problems, part of it might be they hurry, accept less of a product, maybe even short change the situation (but only if the rent payment is due and that tranny job is half a weeks work.....maybe he will fix it when it comes back).

I guarantee you won't find seniority in a shop with flat-rate pay over an average of three years. Disputes over responsibility for "come backs", pay variations, no sufficient vacations always ruin the relationship between shop and employee.

The MB Time Guide dated 02/15/98 gives 1.2 hours for front flex disc replacement.
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  #11  
Old 04-25-2000, 04:27 PM
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JCE JCE is offline
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Join Date: May 1999
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Had the front flex disk done in January by my ind. tech - $156.29 total, of which $48 was the labor. The rest was parts and tax (7.75%)

------------------
JCE
87 300E, 62k miles
Smoke Silver
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  #12  
Old 04-25-2000, 06:18 PM
LarryBible
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Steve,

It's been years since I was around a flat rate shop. I saw several of what I call flat rate overhauls. They would turn the head upside down, pour in naptha, grind the valves that leaked, then push the pistons up far enough to put rings on 'em and push 'em back down.

I was not aware of such a problem today with flat rates. Don't get me wrong I'm not arguing with what you're saying. But do you charge your customers according to a set rate for a particular job? The comparison of the TIMES given in the book was what I was really talking about.

Are there shops that just charge whatever may be logged against the job? If this is so, how would that be fair? If a slower tech were doing the same job as a faster one, then it would just be the luck of the customer as to which one they got doing their job. Or do you mean that the job is charged according to the flat rate manual, but the tech does not work on commission, they rather work on a salary or hours on the clock?

I realize that there are problems in a commission shop, but it seems that there should be standard charges for standard jobs. There are of course some repairs that there are no standard times for, like troubleshooting.

Thanks for the insight,
Larry
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  #13  
Old 04-25-2000, 07:08 PM
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Location: Gainesville FL
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Larry,

We use MB warrantee Flat-rate time for basic calculation of charges. Experience will sometimes modify this time if it is a proven problem to to the job in that time due to conditions that accumulate on older vehicles, such as rust.

There are many fine general shops that feel their skills are worth paying for while they learn on different systems each day. For many customers what they loose on the complicated issues they are willing to pay for to have an honest attempt by a competent tradesman for all their vehicles. I assist many quality techs deal with their once a year MB.

I believe there to be an ideal value for each job. That would change from one area to another because of different costs, regulations, etc. But, it wouldn't change from tech to tech under similar economic conditions. I would really hate to pay for car repairs with California dollars. But I would gladly work for those dollars.

------------------
Steve Brotherton
Owner 24 bay BSC
Bosch Master, ASE master L1
26 years MB technician
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  #14  
Old 04-26-2000, 02:36 PM
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Location: Gainesville FL
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The concept of charging book rate is fair for pricing purposes. But, do you want someone working on your car that has all his pay based on how quick he gets it done? IF all repairs were either 0% or 100% this might work.. When I picked blueberries as a kid in Seattle I got paid by the bushels or the pound of some such. Many kids even with their limited experience would try to fill the baskets with rocks or other things. It wasn't too hard for those paying to tell if they were getting blueberries.

In auto repair nothing is 100%. Sears went through hell a few years ago because they paid by commision. They found huge amounts of unneeded work being done.

In our shop comebacks are handled no charge. BUT, you must define comebacks. A repair that doesn't work or a part that breaks are that form of comeback. Bringing your car in because the check engine light is on again stands a reasonable chance of being a different problem, as any of the thousands of causes give the same indication (check engine light on).

Our policy in our shop is that the customer only pays for the parts and labor necessary to solve the problem one time (this doesn't mean we only charge for one part, many times the most complicated repairs are because one device has failed do to the poor performance of another). If we are wrong on a first attempt we will continue with the diagnosis. When we finally have the real repair accomplished we figure the cost as what it would cost for that one repair and either remove uneccesary parts or leave them but we won't charge for them or their removal.

We accept as a limit about three hours for any diagnosis even if it takes a week. A case with multiple problems might be the only exception. This of course is for electrical or drivability problems. It doesn't of course include disassembling a motor for estimating.

------------------
Steve Brotherton
Owner 24 bay BSC
Bosch Master, ASE master L1
26 years MB technician
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  #15  
Old 04-26-2000, 02:53 PM
LarryBible
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Steve,

Great explanation! Isn't it amazing how there's always somebody that's gonna try to put the rocks in the blueberry basket?

The sad thing is that in some cases, no matter how hard that blueberry merchant tries to prevent it, a basket gets past him to one of his customers. At that point, the blueberry merchant gets the blame and the reputation for the rocks, not the picker.

Another sad thing is that unless the customer knows the shop well, with a long history of satisfaction, the customer has no way of knowing whether the hanky panky was the shop or the individual tech.

Keep up the good work,

------------------
Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 516K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles

[This message has been edited by LarryBible (edited 04-26-2000).]
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