Actually, a bit of diagnosis time is built in by way of higher labor
rates to compenstate for non billable time. Customers don't like to
pay directly for diagnosis, due to both reasonable and unreasonable
expectations. The unreasonable one is they expect a mechanic to be
able to look at any car and immediately know what's wrong. The
reasonable one is that if actual diagnostic time is billed, they can't
know if the time, if high, is because the problem was a difficult one
or if the mechanic wasn't very skilled at diagnosis.
I see no differrence here between taking the car to an independent
mechanic and paying for diagnostic time, and taking the car to a
dealer and offering to do the same, except that the dealer mechanic
might determine the problem more quickly due to having factory service
bulletins available and experience from mostly working on one brand of
If the car is under warranty I have seen many dealers say a problem is
normal when in fact its not. They do so for the reasons I stated. They
decided it would take too much time and labor to diagnose and fix the
problem for the book value they'll get paid.
I have a problem with my 2004 Durango. There is something knocking in
the front end especially when its warm out. Feels like someone is
banging on the floorboard. While it isn't fixed yet the dealer has
spent numerous hours trying to track it down. They don't deny it has a
problem and will be looking at it further soon. A previous dealer
noticed the issue but said it was normal..why? Probably because they
dont want to spend the time my current dealer is willing to do.
Experience shows me that Dealers deny problems for exactly the reason Miles
states below. I can go to an independant that has proven his reputation
with our other vehicles and ask for an estimate. They likely wont
charge....and they have nothing influencing their diagnosis like what is
and isn't under warranty.
If the dealer hadn't dragged their heals on my Sundance tranny a few years
ago, and refused warranty on some earlier issues with my Dak they might be
Some dealers are better than others. The worst of the bunch will not
spend time to diagnose a tough problem because they won't get paid for
that time under warranty, only the time it takes for the repair itself.
I have had cases where I had to pay an independent shop to find the
problem, then have the dealer make the repairs under warranty. Luckily
my current Dodge dealership doesn't play such games. They spend
whatever time it takes.
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