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I dropped off my 2005 Element (166K miles) with the local Honda dealer to replace the knock sensor. The check engine light was on and I was pulling a 295 code. They called me back an hour later to tell me that I was right about the code and that they have the knock sensor in stock and would replace it. The service rep. also told me that the front brake pads were worn and needed to be replaced. Like a dummy, I didn't look up my repair records to notice that I had had a complete brake job, including calipers, only 26,000 miles ago. The guy also told me that the right front caliper was seized and needed to be replaced. I wondered how he could possibly know that unless he had already pulled the caliper without my authorization. I told him that I had already had the front calipers changed twice and that I would not pay for another caliper. He claimed that the caliper would prevent him from doing the brake job. I told him to give it a try. I was called later in the afternoon to come pick up the car. Notice that when he told me that the brake job needed to be done, he never gave me any price. Again, I was a dummy not to ask. I was stunned to hear that the cost of the job was just under $1,100. That's $1,100 to replace front pads, front rotors and a knock sensor. As it turned out, the seized caliper seem to have come unseized. When I asked him about the $680 in labor costs, he told me their hourly rate was $170. They charged me $175 for the knock sensor part. When I got home, I called another Honda dealer to get a price on the knock sensor and was given a price of $152. I found after market sensors for from $16 to $56. When I reamed the service rep., he knocked $200 off the cost and notated the invoice with $200 coupon. I told him flat out he will never see the car again. I don't ever intend to go back to that dealer. When I got home, I did a search for nominal cost to do the work. The highest price I got was about $700. Yes, that's probably not Honda dealer rates. I'd like to hear what other people have to say about this. Am I right or am I off base? Lesson learned: don't ever pay a dealership $170 an hour to do monkey work.
 

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Let's take some of that in order:

The cost of the parts are whatever the dealer can get you to pay. You have money. They want your money. They will try to find a way to get your money. Service writers aren't hired for nor keep their jobs because of altruism. Welcome to the car business.

Brake job... If they had the car up on a hoist, the first thing they'd have looked at was the inside brake surfaces because it's usually overlooked when the car's sitting on the ground. When the brake caliper pins stick (which is easy to have happen and especially after the pins haven't been properly lubed during a brake job) then you assume at that age that the calipers are bad and need replacing. There's no way to tell without seeing them if this was actually needed or not so I'm not claiming they told you right or wrong. Just saying you had it done 26k miles ago is useless.

If your dealership is doing bad work or overcharging or doing extra work to pad their profits, they're like a lot of other dealers. Since proving what they did is so difficult, a lot of them get away with this kind of stuff. Remember who it is next time you need work or next time anyone asks you about them. That's about all you can do.
 

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Let's take some of that in order:

The cost of the parts are whatever the dealer can get you to pay. You have money. They want your money. They will try to find a way to get your money. Service writers aren't hired for nor keep their jobs because of altruism. Welcome to the car business.

Brake job... If they had the car up on a hoist, the first thing they'd have looked at was the inside brake surfaces because it's usually overlooked when the car's sitting on the ground. When the brake caliper pins stick (which is easy to have happen and especially after the pins haven't been properly lubed during a brake job) then you assume at that age that the calipers are bad and need replacing. There's no way to tell without seeing them if this was actually needed or not so I'm not claiming they told you right or wrong. Just saying you had it done 26k miles ago is useless.

If your dealership is doing bad work or overcharging or doing extra work to pad their profits, they're like a lot of other dealers. Since proving what they did is so difficult, a lot of them get away with this kind of stuff. Remember who it is next time you need work or next time anyone asks you about them. That's about all you can do.
Got it. Caveat emptor. This dealership was not like this in the past. I've easily given them close to $15K in repair costs over the years. But the cost, including labor, was always reasonable. I should have suspected something when I found out that the service rep that I had always dealt with was no longer with the dealership. You didn't comment on the $170/hr. labor cost. I'll assume complaining to Honda America would be a waste of time. If they don't do a better job of monitoring their dealerships than this, I'll think twice about buying a Honda again. Thank you for your response.
 

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We charge $179 per hour. Thats the going rate for dealers in this area. Is it absurd? Sure is. We constantly hear customers complain about our high prices of parts and labor, to the point we have effectively priced ourself out of customer paid repairs. Dealers have a **** load of overhead forced on them from each manufacture. Training, tools, building appearance, free coffee and donuts, car washers receptionists, porters, advertising... The list is endless.
Pokie and Rayray down the street do not have any of that. So they can charge way less. If you trust them to hang brake pads then by all means you should go there. As for more complex problems like a knock sensor, the dealer would be a better choice. And ALWAYS get a price before authorizing any repairs no matter the repair shop.
 
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