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Service Center Recommendations

1511 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Anthony

I'm due to get my Shoreline Mist 2WD 5sp EX on Thursday(ihopeihopeihope). I live in the SF Bay Area (Nasty Nimitz commute, Oakland - Santa Clara) and would like to hear anyone's experiences with Honda Service Centers in the Bay Area. I'm sure people would like to hear from anyone anywhere on this, as getting quality service is a key component to overall happiness with a car.


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I had a little experience with some bay area Honda techs. I live in Tracy, and we get a lot of Bay area migrators. I was a Service Manager at a shop for a few years, and had the "pleasure" (sarcastic) of hiring a couple of these guys. As I understand it, the way Honda dealerships pay their techs is called "flat-rate" time.
What it means is this... You go to honda to have the air filter changed (or whatever). The Service writer looks up the time it should take in his computer or in a book (sometime you'll hear this called "book time"). Let's say your airfilter calls for .5 hours. You get charged for 1/2 an hour worth of labor, and the tech gets paid for 1/2 an hour worth of labor. If it takes him 20 minutes, he still gets the 30 minutes of pay (and same if it takes him 45 minutes).
All of this is fine in theory, and it seems fair in most cases, because the "book time" is fairly accurate (with exceptions). The problem is GREED. These techs develope "short-cuts", often at the expensive of the customer somewhere down the line. ie, not replacing hard to reach (and see) bolts or nuts, cutting things (hold-downs, and such) out of the way, instead of properly removing them, etc. Basically "hacking" their way through your perfect little car, in ways you could not imagine. I actually caught this one guy (with torch in hand), ready to cut a hole through the floor of one of my customers car to get to a seal on the transmission, because that was easier (read faster) than removing the transmission! He explained, "I was gonna weld it back up, when I was done", just prior to my handing him his last check. Of course, he expected to get paid for the entire job, and the customer would have assumed the transmission had been removed and replaced, and we would have never _really_ done the job properly.
I also have had experience with these techs "finding" (creating) problems that did not exist. A real common one is bending the wear sensors on the brake pads, so you "need" a brake job sooner than you think. A front brake job is a real money maker for a shop with well trained techs and good equipment. A good Honda tech can finish the job in less than an hour, and the book usually calls for upwards of 2.5 hours, or so.
I recommend finding an independant repair shop that you know and trust. Generally, they want your business more, and treat you much more personally. Ask lots of questions, and trust your gut. Don't ever "price shop" for auto repair, and don't ever accept a quote over the phone. Even common jobs/repairs should be inspected for an accurate quote. A good shop will always inspect for free, if no major disassembly is required (and it rarely is). Just remember, it is expensive to keep techs trained, and well equipped, and if the're the cheapest, the -are- cutting corners.
If you ever come out to Tracy, I could give ya' some recommendations! :wink:
P.S. remember also the Magnason-Moss Warranty Act... If a vehicle manufacturer will void a warranty, because a maintenance part is aftermarket, or the work was done at another shop, they are required to do the maintenance/repair work for free. If they ever use this on you "if you use fram filters, your warranty will be void", have them put it on paper, and they are in for a world of hurt. If they will not put it on paper, then well, that tells you something about the person you're having work on your car, too.
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