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Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by RJM62, Jul 1, 2019.
Luckily that doesn't cost me anything
It cost me because I could be out making more money than the brake job cost.
I choose not to work 24/7.
Part of the reason I stopped doing most of my own work was when I started adding in those types of costs, like two or three trips to the Parts store to get the stuff, exchange it for the right stuff and return stuff I didn't need. And once my car was torn apart, I would have to beg a ride from a friend.
Simple solution, you need a backup vehicle. works for aircraft also.
Don't get me wrong. I truly admire those of you that are able to do your own mechanical work, whether it is adding air to the tires or rebuilding an engine. But you are in the minority, thus the supply of quality mechanics is low, thus your compensation is justly high, or should be. And if you only do it on your own vehicles, then your skills are saving you a lot of cash. Again, you deserve it.
And I know that there are some very good young mechanics too, and I am very happy about that. But again, they are in the minority. Pilots are mostly older men. Most older men grew up working on cars to some extent. But older women didn't, and young people of either sex are not as mechanically prone as we used to be. I tried my hand at designing my web site (before I sold the business). I sucked at it and the results showed. I hired a company to do that for me, and I don't think anyone in the company was over 25. It turned out great. But it cost me plenty. Had I not tried to do it on my own, I might have balked at the price.
There is another factor that is not being afraid of it and have patients. Things can and will go wrong you have to be ready to accept that before going in. You can watch Youtube all day long to see how to do something but snap a bolt off (especially here in the rust belt where I live) in a hard to get at place and you might reconsider your willingness to work on your own stuff.
I've always done my own brakes and do them for many friends. I am very much in support of businesses charging enough to pay employees and keep the lights on and I go out of the way to help local stores. But things like $400-$600 brake jobs are absurd, especially when you're talking about less than 1/2 hour and $35 pads. It probably shouldn't but it does make me angry, and worse, it makes me question the validity of anything else the shop tells me.
Someone mentioned a few posts up that you're paying primarily for the knowledge of the technician (mechanic?) and that's absolutely true - and it's worth a lot. It's worth more to me when there's something I lack the ability to do. But oil changes and brakes don't fall in that category.
I used to do all my own oil changes, but when I can go to a dealership have the oil changed with 6 qts of Mobile One synthetic and get the tires rotated for $69 I am not wasting my time. The filter, oil and washer fluid at Walmart is $35. $34 to change the oil, rotate the tires, and perform a multi point inspection is not worth me jacking up the truck, putting it on jacks, switching the tires, changing the oil, and driving some place to get rid of the used oil.
Agreed, oil changes aren't worth your time unless you are just concerned about getting it right. I sometimes do mine just because my last two oil change experiences were not great. They left the filter loose on one car causing it to leak oil all over the car and my garage floor. The second time they broke a bunch of plastic fasteners and didn't bother to replace them.
And that’s not counting the shuttle service to and from the dealership.
I wouldn't go to the dealership for an oil change anyway.
If time is of such a concern, I can change the oil and rotate the tires in the time it take to drive 30 minutes round-trip to the dealership, much less waiting on them to actually do the work.
Not so much time for me as it hassle. I like working on cars but for the 20-30 bucks it saves me I rather not jack the car up, change the oil, dispose of the used oil, and clean everything back up. For 300+ I will gladly do those things.
Worth it for me to do oil changes because it is one of the few times I do a preflight or predrive...or would it be a 100 hour inspection?
My pickup I can crawl under (I am a fat guy) and do an oil change in about 15 minutes start to finish. The jeep I have to pull up on the ramps so it takes a minute or two longer. Rotating tires admittedly is a pain with jacks and jack stands but I live 45 minutes from the tire place where I bought the tires they would do it for free but probably take an hour or two to do it.
My kingdom for a lift!!!
And when I rotate my own tires I get to put an eyeball on the brake pads, brake hoses, shocks/struts, CV joints, tie rod ends, etc etc etc for evidence of leakage or wear. Worth it to me to know the condition of all that stuff.
I do my own brakes. I swap winter/summer tires twice a year on my own(can't be rotated). I plug my own tires if needed. I replace filters. But I don't do oil changes. Just got tired of doing it. Or maybe spoiled of them being so easy on my previous car(everything is done from the top) that I don't find it worth my time. I really don't change any fluids on my own these days(except motorcycles). This is also a good time to have a set of professionals to look at a car and tell me what it needs... Then I can chose to do it myself or not. Mostly based on cost/time/difficulty assessment.
For a while, I was taking my car to a national tire chain with my own oil and filter for replacement. This ended when one of their employees decided to save the unused oil remainder for me by putting an opened can in a shopping bag on a passenger seat of the car, destroying the seat in the process.. Needless to say that I no longer frequent that establishment. My local dealer(the second one I tried) has been reasonably good to me, though occasionally I fall for a trap of letting them fix something for $$$ that I could have done for a few bucks. Their shop's foreman, however, is top notch. He's diagnosed some of my perplexing issues on the spot and have always been on my side in any warranty claims.
I have to change both the cabin air filter and engine air filter at least twice a year.
I guess I'd kind of like it to vaguely reflect some combination of the parts cost and the shop's posted labor rate. If the shop posts $65.00 / hour (as most here do), and they want to use the book and figure two hours (even though it takes about half that time), and the retail cost of the parts (which you know they're not paying) is ~ $100.00, that still leaves $170.00 out there unaccounted for. Overhead, insurance, regulatory compliance, lift time, quotes that don't lead to work, and of course profit, are rolled into the labor rate, no?
On the other hand, I have no idea how they make money doing oil changes at $24.99. Which brings me to another pet peeve: On Kia and Hyundai cars, it's supposedly important to use an OEM filter. Personally, I have my doubts. I'd trust a Wix filter to meet any OEM's requirements. But the OEM filters are very good filters and they're cheap, so I use them -- at least while the car is under warranty.
That also means doing my own oil changes because very few mechanics will install a customer-provided filter, even if the customer doesn't request a price adjustment. Liability, they say. What liability? It's an OEM filter. It's in the original package. It has a hologram. I have a receipt from a dealership. It's unquestionably genuine. The answer will still be no.
What do you think of a Kia dealership whose mechanics haven't figured out that a 1.6 Kia engine only takes 3.3 quarts of oil? One would think they'd know their own cars' specs.
Not really. However, the game has changed enough that it’s all new.
I recently bought an 07 Mercedes. Servicing or even troubleshooting it is essentially impossible without a laptop and adapter to connect to the car. There are some things that still require a login on Mercedes’ system, but there are workarounds for that.
I’ll be about $600 into new, make-specific tools (including the laptop and adapter) before I’m done, maybe a little more. The local dealer charges a $160 PER ITEM diagnostic fee, which is about an hour of labor. There are still things you simply can’t do... like make a used ABS control module work in any car other than the one in which it came from the factory. These are software driven. Fortunately they are fairly rare.
I haven’t gotten into the wife’s Volvo yet, but I suspect it’s as bad if not worse. It’s about to go off warranty, so it’s time to start looking. Anyway... the days when all you needed was a toolbox and a Chiltons manual are long gone, but it’s not impossible.
As for brake jobs... used to be that the average mechanic could operate a brake lathe. Now I’m kind of surprised half of them can operate a box-end wrench.
And youse guys are doing oil changes wrong. So was I until recently. Vacuum oil extractor, son. Sucks the oil right out. Mercedes was nice enough to put the oil filter top front of the engine. I changed out all 9 liters and the filter, in my good clothes. No crawling on the floor, not a drop of oil spilled. I think I may well have removed my last oil drain plug.
I get where you're coming from with that, but keep in mind that if you're having a shop that can do very complex jobs do a simple job, they'll be charging you the complex rate. They should do that (at least I would), because otherwise you're taking my time away from a complex job that makes more money.
You're also saying $35 pads and that's it, whereas the $400 we've been talking about has also been for new rotors. As others have said, going cheap on rotors is a bad idea, and even $35 pads for some non-commuter vehicle can be on the low side. Add in the shop's mark-up on the parts and labor and, there you have it.
I do almost all my own work and I'm pretty competent - after all I'm building a car and used to be a Jaguar mechanic. But because of the specialized tools that our Mercedes require (both of them), I do take them to the shop (either independent Mercedes specialist or the dealer) for the complex jobs. The knowledge part is less of an issue as I enjoy the learning process, but certainly there's a lot of stuff they know about that I don't too. I would not have the dealer/shop do brakes on my car. I have had them replace and reprogram the ECU, change out the super complex brake thingy for the brake-by-wire, things like that, and been quite happy paying the bill for their capabilities.
That's how i did it in my old BMW... Suck it up from the dipstick tube and change the filter that was on top. Loved it. But this doesn't work on all cars because it depends on a design of the oil pan. Also, many cars now(see BMW) do not have dipsticks. And furthermore, this is almost pointless when the filter is at the bottom(pretty much everything non-European)
Ha... the Benz doesn’t have a dipstick, but it does have a dipstick tube for sucking out the oil. It worked great on the ‘66 Mustang too, filter on the side. Haven’t done the truck or the Volvo yet, though.
Yup, I owned a Mercedes once. Learned that lesson. There are things in life consistently overrated and Mercedes is one.
I have no experience with the smaller/cheaper models. After two months of driving the flagship S-class, I can tell you two things... 1.) It's not overrated. 2.) The ownership experience, once out of warranty, is not for the faint of heart.
I don't know my flat-sixes. Porsche?
FYI, they quit making MAPP gas over a decade ago. Todays formula is something else, has less energy and heat, barely better than propane. They still put it in a yellow tank to fool you but read the lable, its not MAPP anymore, the typical subsitute is propylene.
That’s a fun half hour! Thanks for sharing.
Agreed. I like to do my own because I know it's done right, and I can probably do it faster in my garage than driving to the dealer/Express Lube/whatever, waiting for them to perform the service, and driving back. It's a satisfying chore, like mowing the lawn.
Had a friend who lost the engine in her Mitsu 3000GT VR-4 due to the quick-change "technician" failing to properly torque the drain plug (usually they over-torque them by a factor of three or so!). To their credit, they did ultimately pay for a new engine.
It helps that my airport has a big oil dump tank to get rid of the used oil.
All done. It took a bit over an hour, including drilling out all four screws whose heads stripped. That was not unusual. I expected at least two of the four screws to strip, so I had six spares on hand, along with two extractor kits. When one lives in the middle of nowhere, one learns that it's good to have spares. I've already ordered eight more screws in case the four in the front get stripped when I do the fronts. I figure ten spares should be enough for four screws.
As expected, the biggest annoyance was rust, and the cause of the damage appears to have been sand.
I didn't take pictures while actually doing the work, but these are from afterwards:
Those are OE parts, by the way. They would have had a bit more life were it not for the rust and sand.
Also, the left pads were stuck in the caliper as if no grease had been applied. The caliper itself and the piston were fine, but the pads were stuck in there as if they'd been cemented. A few measured taps with a ball peen hammer loosened them up and solved that problem. Other than that and the screws, it was a nice, uneventful brake job.
The inspection is due in October, so I'll check the fronts in September and change them if it looks like they won't pass inspection or make it through the winter. I really don't like doing this stuff in sub-zero weather.
The new pads and rotors look... well, new. The PowerStop kit was complete, right down to the grease, and the fit was perfect.
It also was kind of nice not having to wash the rotors. I've never used coated rotors before, so I called the manufacturer just to make sure they didn't need to be washed. The lady I spoke to reassured me that that was indeed the case unless I got grease on them, in which case I should wash them with dishwashing liquid and water.
Finally, Rock Auto's service was, as always, superb.
I'll agree on both counts. Reality is that both of our Mercedes (2003 E55 with 230k miles and 2009 GL550 with 123k miles) are pretty reliable and don't have many problems. However if we do have to take it in, good luck getting out of the shop/dealer for 3 figures. It's always 4.
On the other side of it, the service is superb and Mercedes refunded a $2300 repair we did replacing the brake control unit because they'd had so many problems with it. This on a 16 year old car with over 200k miles on it.
My wife has said she always wants a Mercedes, so I expect we'll be doing that.
Wow! Does the suspension and under the car look that rotted? Engine crankcase, exhaust etc?
I frequently wonder what unintended consequences there will be from the "green" movement. if high quality corrosion inhibiting materials are banned for "greener" ones do they perform the same?
The only time I see a mechanic is for tire swapping with my tires, alignment, and some a/c. So I can't say. I wish I could pay folks to do work for me but it really grates. I mean I wish I had that aspect of my personality. Since I can do just about everything, I think I HAVE TO do just about everything. I went to A&P school for over two years because I did not want to pay someone else to work on my airplane. It is not a healthy attitude but I am 66 so... I think my solution is getting rid of everything and start travelling a LOT lighter.
What Rich is showing is typical for vehicles that occur in NYS. This is one of the reasons why you never want to buy a car from the northeast. We just don't have the same level of salt getting thrown down in the midwest.
The reality is that modern vehicles resist the corrosion much better than older ones. This is something that's gotten continually better with time, in spite of certain highly effective rust-preventatives getting banned for use. The reality is that in older cars they just weren't getting used as much. But at a certain point, the stuff's made of steel, it's going to rust.
No, Kia does a pretty good job of rustproofing. They even had a massive recall a few years ago to make sure that no spots were missed and touch them up. But the rotors and pads, obviously, can't be rustproofed.
Also why I now think the coated rotors were a good investment. Part of the scoring may be from pieces of the rotors themselves falling in between the rotors and the pads. Obviously, the coating can't directly protect that area, but it can reduce or eliminate the shedding.
If our oil them before every drive they’ll be rust free.
Other consequences may occur, however.