Having worked at a new car dealership, the Service Dept. is an
excellent profit center. It's not unusual to have the Service Writer,
Service Advisor, or Service Manager pitch you a number of things that
need to be done, whether or not this is the case. In some situations,
it's not totally unlike sitting in front of the F & I Manager when
you're closing the deal on your new car purchase, and he or she is
pitching you dealer packs or an extended warranty.
Yes, there are honest dealers with honest Service Departments, along
with honest independents, but it's certainly "Caveat Emptor" most of
the time. I really feel sorry for those who either haven't worked on
their cars before or don't have any mechanical aptitude, as quite
often, they are taken advantage of. A perfect example is with my Dodge
Grand Caravan. The starter died: the quote for replacement including
installation was over $325 at the local Dodge dealer. I bought the
same Nippondenso gear-reduction OEM starter at an Advance Auto Parts
store, and with a 1/2 hour of labor for installation, the job was done.
Total cost: $74. I don't mind anyone earning an honest wage, but
sometimes auto repair charges are totally out of bounds.
In my experience, the best dealer from a service perspective, both cost
and quality of work, did not use the Flat Rate Manual. Rather, they
simply charged for the actual time for a specific job - not preset
rates. Because of this, one mechanic could only bill out 8 hours of
work per day, rather than what typically occurs in the industry. And,
surprisingly, this was with a European car dealship with very
reasonable hourly rates.