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Old 08-16-2000, 06:34 AM
Posts: n/a
I just want to rant and complain about my last visit to the shop a week ago. I went to get a routine oil change at this M-B shop that seems to have very good prices. Well, after they were done, I went home and what do I notice?! The guy didn't tighten the screws that hold the belly pan! In fact they were barely screwed on that I was amazed that no screws fell off, let alone the entire belly pan!!! This was about a 16mile trip from shop to home.

I could have gone to a nearby shop to get the belly pan screws tightened, but I wanted to go back to that place and let them know what happened so they could be more careful next time. Ugh, another 16mile trip.

I know it was just a minor careless mistake, but I wish they would be more thorough next time. It's a nice shop, and I like the competitive prices it has for oil changes, $23.00 after fees are included. But the service is a little low. The head mechanic doesn't like it when I ask questions or when I'm curious about what they're doing to my car. Ugh, when I went back to get the screws tightened, I felt like it was my fault for coming back! But over all, the people seem nice and knowledgeable; it's just these little things that is such an inconvenience to me and for them.

Anyhow, what careless mistakes have some of you experienced at shops?

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Old 08-16-2000, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I hope you won't be offended if I point out that you "got what you paid for".

To put it bluntly, as a shop owner I can tell you that I can't write and execute an invoice for $23. The phone call, the writing of work order, the payment process, and final accounting cost more than that, let alone a "chat session"... and you wanted oil TOO.

These type of services are designed to sell work. For years I would get offers for free trips to the Bahamas all I had to do was get beat-up by a time-share salesman for a few hours. Once was enough.

Many of us shop owners are forced into this market even though these tactics are abhorent to us. In these cases work can get sloppy.

Our shop has a $29 oil change service - for competative reasons, but we do not do it unless we have done the most recent yearly service. In other words it can only be done as an extra oil change between 30k, 15k, or 7.5k services. Like this: 15k, OS (oilservice), 7.5k, OS, 30k, OS etc.

I hope that because I pay my techs by the clock hour and not flatrate that they won't be sloppy. Flatrate is the more common system, ask yourself what there is for the flatrate tech in that $23 service. Time is absolutely money to a flatrate tech.

Even though many of us fix cars because there is nothing we would rather do; we do have to eat (bg).

Steve Brotherton
Owner 24 bay BSC
Bosch Master, ASE master L1
26 years MB technician

[This message has been edited by stevebfl (edited 08-16-2000).]
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Old 08-16-2000, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Holland, MI
Posts: 1,316
I have had two similar experiences. First, I recently had to have all of the 1/4 turn screws replaced on the Audi belly pan. Apparently too many uninformed mechanics had put too much muscle into trying to turn the "screws" and they were all sheared. (I discovered this when I heard the pan dragging down the street!) I had been taking the car to general oil change places.

Then, also on the Audi, I had the fuel injectors replaced under a recall/warranty claim. When I was checking the oil some weeks later I discovered that the decorative plastic cover on the engine hadn't been tightened; four 1/4 turn screws you could fasten with a dime. This time it was a dealer mechanic who rushed the job and made this oversight.

Conclusion? Overall no big deal, no major damage, and so I don't rant and rave. I am determined to find a good shop where they understand, and love, the German cars they work on, and then expect high quality work for fair charges.

Good things aren't cheap, and cheap things aren't good...

BCingU, Jim

'96 E300D 56k mi
'95 Audi 90 118k mi
'92 GMC Suburban 138k mi
'85 300SD 228k mi
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Old 08-16-2000, 08:22 AM
Posts: n/a
I understand the problem, it's just a good thing they paid more attention to getting the drain plug tight than they did to the belly pan. Have you checked to see that the drain plug is tight?

I can see where it would be tough to make a living in a shop full of techs, as opposed to high school kids at the Jiffy Lube, by doing oil changes. If it's a tech doing the work though, hopefully he's watching for other things. The main reason I do my own oil changes is so that I can get a look under the car to see what may be falling off.

Good luck,

Larry Bible
'84 Euro 240D, 523K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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Old 08-16-2000, 08:49 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 76
My case was far worse. My father had to let my sister borrow his car (1983 240D which is now my car) for a period of time, while she was at school, while he repaired her 1986 BMW 325. Well before coming home from Virginia my dad told her to have the oil changed. She proceeded to have the oil changed and then got on the road to come home. My sister knows nothing about the technical part of cars. So she had no idea what to look for after the oil is changed. So she paid and left and got on the road. Well she was more than half way into her 4 hour journey she thought she saw smoke from under the hood. Her roommate said no there is no smoke so they continued. When she realized the engine WAS smoking she pulled over and popped the hood. A large cloud of smoke came from under it. She had no clue what caused this, her roommate was of no help either. So she proceeded to call AAA. Diagnosis, the mechanic did not put the oil cap back on. The smoke was caused by a combination of no oil cap and no oil in the engine. Oil covered the whole engine compartment and the sides of the car. The oil took off the stripping. My father is very meticulous about his cars, he keeps them in tip top condition. So she had the car towed to have the oil replenished, get a new oil cap and clean the engine. My father almost had a heart attack in the driveway when she finally got home. Shortly afterwards the engine went out and it is believed to be because the car was driven with out oil for a prolonged period of time at high speeds. Needless to say my father was not a happy camper. So he bought a 1989 300E. This all happened in 1994. Last summer we put a new engine in the 1983 240D for me to take to school in Florida, the car runs like a champ except for a few minor problems but I would never drive any thing besides a Mercedes
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Old 08-16-2000, 09:34 AM
Posts: n/a
I have not had any real bad experiences, but I sure have heard of the usual ones... oil change places that take out the oil, replace the filter, and send you home about 4 quarts low.... valve jobs that let you go home with no valve cover.... etc...

My sister once took her Nissan to Sears for tires. She called me to come and help because something was wrong with the car. She got the tires and tried to leave, but the car was hard to control. When I got to the lot, I checked the lug nuts first. Sure enough, most of them were missing and the ones that were there were not even close to being tight.

I brought the service manager out to the car, he apologised, tightened the nuts, pulled the car back in the shop. After about 30 min. the car was pulled back out and the service manager refunded her the entire cost of the tires. They also replaced all the mounting studs because the rims destroyed most of them.

It was just a simple mistake, the tech was just not paying enough attention or there was a mis-communication between the two working on the car. We begged him not to refund the tire cost, because there was no major harm caused, and they fixed the mistake and damage.... He insisted we take the tires for free... I guess the cost came out of a couple of tech's pay!

I still go there for my Michelin's and reccomend that shop to all my friends and family.... We get a royal treatment.... wonder why!?!

76 240D (W115) - 550K miles
78 300D (W123) - 200K+ miles
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Old 08-16-2000, 03:23 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 1,193
Here's a worse one - this one about service so cheap it was free - an wrecked an engine. My neighbor was on his way back from cottage country one weekend and stopped before his trip home to fill up with gas. The service station kid offered to check the oil and her agreed. Oil was down a quart and they topped it off (paid for the oil, service was free. Anyways, about an hour later the low oil come on, and since it had just been topped up they ignored it (admitedly a dumb thing to do) and half an hour later the car engine ground to a halt. Seems the kid at the service station forgot to put the oil cap back on and they lost pretty much all of the oil out the top - good by engine. I do two oil changes in a row myself and then have the third done at the dealer along with other service so they can do a full inspection at the same time. Nobody like to shell out to their mechanic, but they can be your best friend and worth a bargain in the long run -even at dealer rates.

Jason Priest
1986 420SEL
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Old 08-16-2000, 07:54 PM
Harvey Sutlive
Posts: n/a
1. When you change your own oil you can let it drip an extra few minutes and get a little extra sludgy old oil out.
2. As Larry says you can look for potential problems while under the car.
3. It's cheaper.
4. You need on hand a filter wrench and some filters and a case of oil. A jack and jack stands. With this modest equipment an oil change is not difficult. After you've done it twice, you can knock out an oil change with less hassle than is involved in leaving your car somewhere and picking it up.
5. You will do a much better job than many service centers because it's your car and you care about it. Certainly you will do a better job than any quick change place.
6. If something happened to the paint job you would probably notice right away. When you're looking at the motor regularly you gain that same sense of what the car is supposed to look like mechanically. So you have a chance to spot bad belts, fluid leaks, loose parts etc. early.
7. This is just an opinion here but I don't think it's practical to have a machine and depend on it and do absolutely no basic maintainance on it. It's asking for trouble.

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Old 08-17-2000, 07:12 AM
Posts: n/a

Well put!

Have a great day,
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Old 08-17-2000, 01:07 PM
Posts: n/a
Here is a good one. A friend of mine went into a quickie oil change place and on the way home, at highway speed, noticed white smoke out the tail pipe. He went back and they replaced the drain plug that fell out, gave him new oil and 5 free oil changes as compensation. He was happy. A year later I told him he was blowing oil and he didn't know what I meant. To make a long story short the dealer rebuilt the motor from the crank bearings up, including a valve job (they thought that was the problem and did it first). The dealer would have left it with just the valve job but I made him take it back because it was still blowing oil. He was lucky because he had 3000 miles left on his extended warranty and drove the GM car to 150,000 miles. No one spoke of the oil change debacle but in my mind, it was the cause.
I love to change my own oil and get under the car to look around. I prefer to do my own work because no one cares about my car like I do. (That, and a tight wallet).

'85 500SL (Euro)
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