OT Buying a new truck

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With rare exception, dealers cost more than a good independent shop. I really hate going to a dealer for service and only use them for warranty work or the occasional deal they may offer on oil changes. Of course, once they get you in there they want to sell other services.
As a forinstance: Dealer I bought my last two cars from says you should get the fuel injector cleaning every year @ $129. Two cars would cost me $258 a year. I've never had an injector problem in many years of driving so I'm thousands of dollars ahead of taking their advice.
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On 8/12/2011 11:17 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I've never had what I consider to be a good experience with a dealer service department. Multiple do-overs on simple work, wall jobs for recalls, having to leave it all day for stuff other places do while I wait, attempted up-sells, high prices for labor and parts, 'waiting on parts' while they did high-profit jobs instead, and in one case they broke my windshield and denied they did it. And this is multiple dealers in several states over 30+ years.
I avoid them if at ALL possible.
--
aem sends...


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wrote:

had an EXTREMELY high retention rate for the 10 years I was service manager because I DID NOT allow that kind of thing to occur. My service department was the ONLY dealer service department in the Waterloo/Wellington area that was NOT a flat rate shop. All my guys were paid straight time. No incentives. No Flat Rate Bonuses. I paid them enough to make it worth while coming in to work in the morning - and they got paid the same if they were fixing a customers car, a company used car, or the hoists/workbenches etc, or cleaning the place, etc.
They were ALWAYS busy. And both our absorption rate and retention rate were the envy of every dealership around - big or small.
You guys who know about such things - how does 130% retention rate over 3 years sound?? Yup - we serviced, at leazt 3 times a year, 30% more (of our brand)cars than we had sold over the last 3 years. Plus the used cars we sold, and other customers who brought their off-brand cars in for my guys to service.
This WAS over 20 years ago - but even THEN, it was good.
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I don't know anything about "Flat Rate Bonuses", but what's wrong with flat rate? It's the time a factory thinks it should take a competent mechanic with the proper tools to do a specific job. If the mechanic is better, he will do the job quicker than the "flat rate" and can do more in a given time and will earn the business more money. Plus, the customer is charged a fair rate according to what it SHOULD take a competent mechanic to complete the job, not the time some slacker or novice will take. I once worked as a mechanic at flat rate. I was slower when I began and became quicker as I gained experience. Seems like a fair way to do things.
Many years later, I was shocked when I asked the flat rate on changing a hydraulic steering line on my car and the service mgr said there is no longer any such thing as flat rate and if it took 6 hrs, that's what I'd be charged. I told him to jam it up his ass and did it myself in 1.5 hrs, having no previous experience on said car.
nb
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notbob wrote:

All other things being equal, take your car to the dealership with the largest parts department.
Mechanics want to get your car fixed and rolled out of thier service bay so they can work on another. If they need a part that has to come from another dealership, they get a lot of down time. Therefore the BEST mechanics tend to gravitate to the dealerships with more part numbers in stock. If they can get the part they need, they can get your car fixed sooner.
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Not sure what this has to do with flat rate, but OK, I'll respond.
Many dealerships have been actively divesting themselves of parts inventories. Overhead, I reckon. I went to my local Mopar dealership to get a part. They no longer carried it. So, went to my local Napa dealer, who did have it. While waiting for them to ring it up, I groused about how the Chrysler dealership was going down the tubes. While bitching, I turned around and discovered the parts man from the Chrysler dealership was standing in line at the Napa parts counter. He smiled, sheepishly.
nb
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the customer. Not too bad if they use the premium Napa part - but the cheap value line crap is a different story.
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I've been a mechanic my whole life, too, but I got out of that facet of it early, moving on to high tech engineering and R&D. I've found exactly two auto mechanics I actually trust, in my entire life, which is why I do my own work.
nb
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I nearly always do my own work except trans and exhaust. Best to grow you own mechanic. But I pay him well, so I don't save any money, just more convenient.
--Vic
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Simple. It entices the mechanic to cheat and take short cuts , and to sell work that isn't required.

The customer was charged by the flat rate. A LOT of flat rate mechanics make more money with their pencil than with their tools - and I've seen BOXES of parts under mechanic's benches that were NOT replaced, that should have been replaced as part of the job, and the customer (or warranty) paid both for the parts and the installation.
The flat rate pay system encourages cheating. I don't like it. I've worked it. And yes, under flat rate, I could have made a LOT of money (when things were busy).. Straight time guarantees the paycheque, even when things are slow. Some guys like that.

Flat rate does NOT apply to older vehicles, where rust and other crap can cause major problems. It also does NOT cover diagnostics. For MANY jobs, diagnostics can be well over half the time spent on a job - and it is "clock time". It does not cover "extenuating circumstances" If an exhaust stud breaks off in a manifold, it is "clock time" untill the stud is replaced - unless the mechanic gets creative and adds "r & R manifold" to the flat rate job - and THEN goes to clock time to remove the stud - then adds "replace stud" to the flat rate job - which means he gets paid twice for over half the job.
No flat rate for replacing rusted fuel lines, brake lines or transmission cooling lines. Not for rusted power steering lines either.
Factory flat rate is "warranty time" - the time a reasonably adept mechanic should take to replace the part on a reasonably new car - set by the factory - for warranty purposes. Many manufacturers pay a different hourly rate for warranty repairs too. Generally less than retail door rate
Then there's "Chilton time" and several other versions of "Flat Rate" used mostly by general repair shops. Generally about 20% more than "factory" time.
I spent half my working life as a mechanic - both flat rate and straight time - including 10 years as service manager - so I got to see both sides of the problem.
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Total nonsense. An honest mechanic does not become unscrupulous just because a flat rate system is in place. I was an honest mechanic and the customer got full measure of what he paid for, regardless of how long it took me, whether I was quick or slow. OTOH, scumbags need no encouragement to be unscrupulous. They'll cheat you, flat rate or no.

I can inderstand how certain repair circumstances create problems. BTDT. OTOH, the training of an unexperienced new mechanic should not be the responibility of and/or be paid for by the customer. Let more experienced mechanics do the diagnostics. Besides, who does free diagnostics, anymore? Sure, flat rate applies to newer warranty work, and that's what we applied it to.
How many shops survive working on clapped out rusting hulks, unless it's their specialty and they have the set-up and priceing structure for it. Even if it is warranty or fairly new car work, sometimes you get a job that's a loss. That's a std part of business. You can't start hosing all customers just cuz you lose money on occassion. Oh wait!! ....apparently, you can! I know it's damn sure become SOP to try.
nb
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you hose the customer they don't come back, and you do not maintain high retention and absorbtion that way.
For "normal" work, on reasonably new cars - the work usually seen at a dealership, the customer pays by flat rate, plus the appropriate diagnostic charges and extras that are not covered by flat rate - while the mechanic is paid straight time. Certain jobs need to be quoted as "time and material" right from the get-go - and others are quoted from experience - "that job, on that car, at that age and condition, is going to run you about 6.5 hours, plus parts" and "When we get to this point, we'll call you and let you know if it's as bad as we suspect, better, or worse - and you can decide if you want to fix it -".
Sometimes you need to give the customer the choice, after you get to the point you know EXACTLY how bad it is, whether he wants to repair or replace the major assembly (engine, transmission, etc) or replace the vehicle. Often those choices cannot be made without getting into the job.
If a customer asked for a price,I often gave a range - "if we are lucky,and nothing goes wrong, we can fix it for $1300 - if it goes as I expect, more likely $1400 - if it's really bad it could be $1750 or more, and it's my recommendation that we do (this much work) and reassess at that point. If it is worse than (whatever) I'd recommend you not spend the money - cut your losses and replace the vehicle instead" Sometimes they'd say, forget it, and replace the vehicle right away, without even starting on the job - othertimes they'd say go ahead and when we knew exactly where we stood, they'd say continue, or no. And sometimes they'd say fix it, even when my recommendation was not to. Customer's choice - but NO SURPRISES - for them, or for me.
If a customer demanded a firm price on this type of job, I generally quoted the highest I expected it could possibly go - figuring it might discourage the customer from fixing what really should not be fixed, or convince him to accept that it is sometimes difficult to know how bad the vehicle might be and that sometimes a bit of uncertainty is worth more than a "sure bet"
And I ALWAYS tried to do as little as necessary, cost-wise - to find out what was required. Several times we "ate" the dissassembly charge when the customer decided not to go ahead. It was a case of keeping the customer happy - and keeping the customer.
A lot of little jobs went out without any charge or paperwork. If it wasn't worth a $25 charge, it wasn't worth processing a work order.
Not being on flat rate, I could ask a mechanic to go out and install a wiper blade, wiper arm, headlight, bulb, etc for a customer and it didn't cost the mechanic anything. I could lube a sticky lock and say "no charge". Made the customer feel good about the dealership, and saved me money in not having to process all the paperwork (remember - this was before computerization).
The biggest problem in flat rate shops is when one guy, who is really good at a particular job, is seen to be getting all the "gravy" because he always beats flat rate, while the other guy never or seldom beats flat rate - and never gets those jobs. They'll cry like babies - untill you give the complainer the "gravy job" and he loses his shirt. Then the crybaby hides a tool or screws around with something to make sure the guy who's been "getting all the gravy" can't do his job as well. I've seen minor wars break out in shops over this. I've seen mechanics fired in order to restore peace in the shop. Sometimes several at once.
One mechanic complained the alignment guy got all the gravy - untill he got a twin I Beam ford front end to align when the "alignment guy" was off. The regular alignment guy could make flat rate on them MOST of the time - the complainer lost his shirt in a big way and that shut him up for a few months.
Another problem in a flat rate shop is nobody wants to help the other guy learn. In a straight time shop, if John is having a problem with a job that George is very proficient at, George will go and spend some time with John, showing him how to do it properly -while in a flat rate shop George keeps fumbling along because it would "cost George too much" to show John how to do the job - and it's not in George's best interest to have another guy in the shop be as good at that job as George.
Happens all the time
Which is why I was never a proponent of "flat rate" shops
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The dealer where I lived before was run by a best friend, so no one ever up-sold me. ;-) I'd get a loaner whenever the cars were in for service, too. After I moved here, I had no idea who to go to, so continued going to the dealer. I've now found someone else I can trust (and even more convenient), so don't go back to the dealer. I'll probably take my wife's car back there for tires in a couple of weeks, though.

Yeah, I don't buy any of that crap either. I do have the transmissions serviced on the schedule, though.
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Woo-hoo! Big discount there...

Buying a new car is *never* a financially sound decision, rebate or no. The only thing that makes financial sense is to buy used, at least three or four years old. Let someone else pay the depreciation.
You want to talk about discounts from list price? After our second child was born, in 1991, we bought a 1984 Buick LeSabre for $4200; the original window sticker was still in the glove box, showing a list price of about $14K. The car had 54K miles on it when we bought it, and it was still running when we sold it ten years later at 211K.
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Not only that, but it was proven and time tested. New anything is a crap shoot. A used car in mint shape with all service records is a sound bet. Have it professionally inspected, though. Get a 3rd parties expert opinion. A good used car is usually close to indistructable. I bought a Honda with 120K miles on it. Sold it with 120K more (250K) hard commute miles on it. Engine still purred.
nb
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with just under 100,000km on it for $5500. 12 years later I sold it with 242,000km on it for $1700. The original purchaser left a little over $35,000 at the dealership when he drove it off the lot.
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On 8/11/2011 7:16 AM, Doug Miller wrote:

Not true. As another poster pointed out, there are times when the price difference between a late-model used vehicle and the same one brand new is so minor, it makes no sense to buy used. That's how I ended up buying my first new car - after shopping around and discovering the difference between my buying the particular model new versus two years old with 25K on it was only a few hundred bucks, I (to my amazement) bought new. Market forces worked in my favor that time. It may apply in some cases now, too. Low demand for new and high demand for used may once again make the used vs. new price difference on certain models negligible - in which case you might as well buy new.

In the example I gave above, the price difference between the vehicle new and two years old with approx 25K on it ended up running between $500-600. So, 25K fewer miles and two more years on the warranty for a few hundred more? Sold.
If the financing on a new vehicle is more favorable than on a used vehicle, and the buyer intends to finance, that's another factor to take into account.
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Yes, it is. Do the math. You get killed on depreciation. Let someone *else* buy the car new, and pay all the depreciation.

You both drew the wrong conclusion. The correct conclusion is that if a new car, and the same thing used, one year old, are basically the same price -- then they are *both* a bad deal.
Total cost of ownership is *always* lower buying a used car -- *if* you use your head. Buying a one year old used car that's the same price as a new one is obviously stupid. But that doesn't mean that buying new is smart, only that buying new is (in that case) less stupid than buying the one year old used car. Buy three years old, or five years old.

No, they didn't. Your eagerness to buy a new car worked in the car dealer's favor that time.
How much could you have saved by getting one four years old, with 50K on it?
Did you even check?

It obviously makes more sense to buy new than one year old used at the same price -- but it makes still more sense, much more, to buy three, four, five years old used.

And I bet you never even looked at the same thing, four years old, with 40 or 50K miles on it. The price difference would have been thousands.

No, it's not. It's *never* a financially sound decision to buy a new car. It may be less unsound, in some circumstances, to buy new vs. one year old, but that does *not* make buying new a smart thing to do.
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On 8/11/2011 8:16 AM, Doug Miller wrote:

Considering that it was a high demand vehicle because of fuel economy he did well. Often sticker is the best you can get in that situation because if you don't buy it someone is standing behind you who will.
Now if it were some giant stupid fluffed up truck with 16 cup holders and 4 DVD players 50% off wouldn't have been enough.

Looked at used car prices recently? That truism you mentioned is now null and void.

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