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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This post should serve as a warning to everyone to go with their gut when it comes to maintenance on their Elements. This winter, we noticed the tell-tale groaning coming from the rear axle of the E and took it in to our normal shop. We told them about the diff. and that I was 99% sure that is what the issue was. They claimed that they checked the fluid and it was "clear". As you can see in my email to the owner below, that was not the case:

I just wanted to voice my concerns to management over some recent service that my wife and I have received. My wife and I have gone to Calabros for about 6 years and my wife's family has been bringing their cars in for maintenance, repairs, and tires for as long as we can remember. We have always been happy with the service that we receive related to tires, inspections, and oil changes, however this spring we have been very concerned with the services that we have received.

Earlier in the spring, my wife brought her Honda Element in complaining of a groaning sound coming from the rear axle when turning at low speed (pulling into parking spaces, making 3 point turns, etc). I have been active on online Element forums and knew that the problem was likely due to the rear differential fluid needing replaced. The car only had about 35K miles and the maintenance schedule shows that the fluid does not need replaced until 50K or 60K, however she wanted it to be looked at. We were told that the fluid was checked and was "clear" and that the problem was actually the brakes. With only 35K miles on the car, we were charged almost $500 for all new brakes and rotors, both front and rear. I can understand needing brake pads in the front after 35K miles, but new rotors? And considering that the front brakes do most of the work, there is no way that the rear pads/rotors needed to be replaced. I had my wife ask a second time regarding the diff. fluid and she was told that it was definitely not the problem and that it was the brakes.

It was no surprise to me that the groaning sound still had not dissipated after the brake job, and this week I had the time to check the fluid on my own. Sure enough, the fluid was reddish/brown instead of a tan/yellow color. It took me 10 minutes and $20 and I solved the problem on my own in the driveway. We are extremely disappointed in how we were treated, I don't want to use the word "scammed" but I sure feel that way. We have told our family members about our experience and we surely will not be bringing our business back. I have already begun to take car repair classes so I can do these simple repairs and fluid changes on my own so that I can prevent being taken advantage of again.

Again, we were extremely happy with the service that we received and the people that we had dealt with prior to this experience, but I do not think I can overlook this in the future. No matter how good the service was, being taken advantage of for $500 for a job that would have cost $20 is unspeakable.
Just be careful to trust your gut if you take your car into the shop and you think you know what needs to be fixed.
 

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Bastards....!
 

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I'm curious how the owner responded to that! It's a damn shame they did that, kind of makes you wonder what else they might have upcharged or claimed was needed.
 

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Sad to hear... most of the aggressive shops insist that their technicians or service writers find a minimum $ amount of repairs to try to "sell" to each customer; first we can all agree that every car will need "something", whether it's a power steering pump or a set of belts, or a map light bulb, or even just a wash-wax-& vacuum.
What I've seen is repair targeting in the 3-700 dollar range. It's not an honorable practice for an industry to adopt though there are some honorable people in the industry who practice it.
The down side- to blanket adoption of the practice- is that there will be those who either don't know what they're doing, or those who know what they're doing who'll take advantage of everyone... no matter where they are employed.
The up side, is when you meet one of those honorable individuals who'll find everything, and help you to prioritize your maintenance and repairs, and sometimes offer you the encouragement to take on the less involved things you can do yourself- like changing cabin air filters and so forth.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
im also curious of how the owner responded, that's some bs right there. and instead of taking automotive classes to maintain your E, just invest in the Helms manual instead.
The owner got back to me today via email and said that she and the other owners are bothered that this happened. They reviewed their records and are going to talk to the mechanic that did the work when he gets back from vacation.

Also, I figured getting some hands on experience would help instead of getting the Helms manual. You can only learn so much from a book. I took a one day class on brake pad/rotor changes and fluid changes. Now I know what it looks like when brake pads need replaced and when/how to change my fluids. I'll probably end up getting a manual too.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sad to hear... most of the aggressive shops insist that their technicians or service writers find a minimum $ amount of repairs to try to "sell" to each customer; first we can all agree that every car will need "something", whether it's a power steering pump or a set of belts, or a map light bulb, or even just a wash-wax-& vacuum.
What I've seen is repair targeting in the 3-700 dollar range. It's not an honorable practice for an industry to adopt though there are some honorable people in the industry who practice it.
The down side- to blanket adoption of the practice- is that there will be those who either don't know what they're doing, or those who know what they're doing who'll take advantage of everyone... no matter where they are employed.
The up side, is when you meet one of those honorable individuals who'll find everything, and help you to prioritize your maintenance and repairs, and sometimes offer you the encouragement to take on the less involved things you can do yourself- like changing cabin air filters and so forth.
Fortunately, one of my wife's relatives just opened a really nice garage about 30 minutes from us. He is the one that gave me a one-on-one session on basic car repair. He showed me the basics and I would actually trust him to do more difficult repairs now that I don't trust my old garage.
 

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It used to be only the chain stores-Firestone, Pep Boys, Goodyear, Midas, etc. that engaged in the "every car will need at least $300 worth of repairs" diagnosis tactics. Now many local shops have 'caught the bug'. It pays to know as much as possible about maintaining your car, whether or not you choose to do the work yourself.

Years back i brought a '90 LeSabre into Pep Boys in Greensburg PA for new tires. The 'service advisor' came back with nearly $1,200 in 'needed repairs' -new struts, new springs, new ball joints, new brakes and rotors and an oil change. I had just had new struts installed 200 miles before!(That's why I needed new tires.) The brakes had 2K on them and the oil about 1K. Pep Boys based their repair list ONLY on the cars mileage -about 108K and the worn tires- without ever looking at it on a rack. I asked the guy that wrote-up the estimate if he was both blind and incompetent.:shock:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It used to be only the chain stores-Firestone, Pep Boys, Goodyear, Midas, etc. that engaged in the "every car will need at least $300 worth of repairs" diagnosis tactics. Now many local shops have 'caught the bug'. It pays to know as much as possible about maintaining your car, whether or not you choose to do the work yourself.

Years back i brought a '90 LeSabre into Pep Boys in Greensburg PA for new tires. The 'service advisor' came back with nearly $1,200 in 'needed repairs' -new struts, new springs, new ball joints, new brakes and rotors and an oil change. I had just had new struts installed 200 miles before!(That's why I needed new tires.) The brakes had 2K on them and the oil about 1K. Pep Boys based their repair list ONLY on the cars mileage -about 108K and the worn tires- without ever looking at it on a rack. I asked the guy that wrote-up the estimate if he was both blind and incompetent.:shock:
That's the surprising thing about the garage that I used, they were typically very honest and never tried to rip me off before, and they did great work. I may have just been this one mechanic, but now I don't trust anyone.
 

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I have never used them, but my friend has all of his work done there. He is always hounding me to go there since it is less than a mile from my house. I will show him this post to see what kind of reaction I get.

Hope they give you some compensation for this.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have never used them, but my friend has all of his work done there. He is always hounding me to go there since it is less than a mile from my house. I will show him this post to see what kind of reaction I get.

Hope they give you some compensation for this.

Take this with a grain of salt though. I actually meant to take the name of the garage out of the email so as not to start online rumors. I have always been happy with the owners and managers at the garage. They have never tried to rip me off before and I think this was an isolated incident with one mechanic that took some liberties with the job. I still trust the owners, but you never know what mechanic you'll get. In the future, I'm just going to do all my work myself. I went to Harbor Freight and bought all of the tools that I will need for pretty cheap and it has been enjoyable so far.
 

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That's the surprising thing about the garage that I used, they were typically very honest and never tried to rip me off before, and they did great work. I may have just been this one mechanic, but now I don't trust anyone.
I'm really, really glad I read this post. I'm facing getting my rear rotors and brakes fixed and a whole new set of tires soon. I've been taking my car to a local non-chain mechanic for the last few years and I always have it in the back of my mind that I need to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, and stay really involved. I've never really had any distrust issues with them (it's almost impossible to even get in there because they have so much business, so I know they're in high demand and get a lot of repeat business).

When I take my car in, one of the guys will usually take me for a short drive in it so he can get the feel and hear the sounds it's making. I've never been to any other mechanic who does that. Also, they always call me before doing any major repairs to let me know how much it will be and what they're going to have to do. If something doesn't sound right or I don't understand it, they always take the time to explain it to me until I understand.

I've been considering taking my car to a local chain, Tuffy, to have the brakes and rotors looked at because they're having a special on that stuff right now, but again, after reading this post, I'm a little hesitant. I will probably end up getting a couple of quotes from different places. The only reason why I'm not just taking my car to my usual mechanic this time is that some other places are closer to my work so I won't have to go through the rigmarole of finding someone to drive me to work and then pick up my car, etc. And they might be cheaper. We'll see!
 

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I'm really, really glad I read this post. I'm facing getting my rear rotors and brakes fixed and a whole new set of tires soon. I've been taking my car to a local non-chain mechanic for the last few years and I always have it in the back of my mind that I need to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, and stay really involved. I've never really had any distrust issues with them (it's almost impossible to even get in there because they have so much business, so I know they're in high demand and get a lot of repeat business).

When I take my car in, one of the guys will usually take me for a short drive in it so he can get the feel and hear the sounds it's making. I've never been to any other mechanic who does that. Also, they always call me before doing any major repairs to let me know how much it will be and what they're going to have to do. If something doesn't sound right or I don't understand it, they always take the time to explain it to me until I understand.

I've been considering taking my car to a local chain, Tuffy, to have the brakes and rotors looked at because they're having a special on that stuff right now, but again, after reading this post, I'm a little hesitant. I will probably end up getting a couple of quotes from different places. The only reason why I'm not just taking my car to my usual mechanic this time is that some other places are closer to my work so I won't have to go through the rigmarole of finding someone to drive me to work and then pick up my car, etc. And they might be cheaper. We'll see!

please learn to do your own brakes... at least just the pads.. and think about trying the rotors. my 12 year old son does our brakes. he just did rears and rotors. he even worked through a broken bolt with minimal assistance. i just say this, as you may save a few HUNDRED dollars. the parts are readily available, and most of us will supply you with part numbers if needed.

as for the dif fluid. the question come up at least two or three times a week on here as new members arrive. there are several crafty methods to make the process easier... lol... easier? it takes longer to jack the car up, then it does to complete the job.

this site has plenty of instruction posted over the years, and i have saved well over two thousand dollars in mechanic time by following the instructions here.

keep on reading and wrenching!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I agree with Rob. It made me sick when I found out how easy brakes (and rotors) are and how cheap it is to replace them. Not only did I get ripped off for not needing brakes yet, but the fact that they charged me $500 is also sickening.

Finally, don't have someone else change your diff fluid. The garages will probably charge you $75 or $80 to do it, but the fluid only costs $20 and I bought a funnel and tubing for $2. After that you just need basic tools that most people would already have around the garage and some WD 40. I didn't even put my car on ramps/jacks, I just laid a comforter down on the driveway and slid under the car.
 

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Question

IF the flush only took 10 minutes , couldn't you have checked it in the first place?
or do you physically have to flush it to see the liquid?
 

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Question

IF the flush only took 10 minutes , couldn't you have checked it in the first place?
or do you physically have to flush it to see the liquid?
its not really a flush,,its a drain and refill..i did mine in 5 mins,,,if you have to check it..you might as well just change it..its so simple..
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Question

IF the flush only took 10 minutes , couldn't you have checked it in the first place?
or do you physically have to flush it to see the liquid?
If I had the time I would have, but it was the busiest time of year for me at work, and I was too lazy to check it. I sure learned my lesson though.
 

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If I had the time I would have, but it was the busiest time of year for me at work, and I was too lazy to check it. I sure learned my lesson though.
I hear ya.
What do you do in Pittsburgh? I often fly out there for work since we have offices.
 
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