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Old 05-14-2008, 10:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Who services your vehicle?

Since I got into the whole "Fuel Economy" thing I would have to say that poor maintenance is the number 1 reason for poor economy and wasted fuel.

I have been turning wrenches for many years and worked at all kinds of garages. Every time I do an oil change I also do what most people just check off on the sheet and this includes checking all fluid level including diffs and transfer cases and make sure all grease fittings (if equipped) are lubed and the most important part of the service (besides a test drive) is checking the tire pressures.

I would say 90% of the hundreds of thousands of tires I serviced including tractor/trailer tires are under-inflated. I am not talking EcoModder pressure settings, but manufacturer settings. Out of that 90% of tires, 50% of those are extremely under-inflated to near half or less than half of the recommended pressure. These are mainly the cars with a fresh oil change sticker from a Quick Lube or a ............er............hm........Department Store.

This percentage has actually changed since I started working at this new garage where everyone does their job correctly and we have loyal customers that return regularly. When I started working there I was impressed with the customer loyalty and return customer base. When a regular comes in, his/her tires are usually good to go 99% of the time and we usually don't find anything wrong with the vehicle unless it's a recent failure of a component. I couldn't believe the fleet of trucks that we service regularly that have anywhere from 700,000 to over a million miles on them and still have the original kingpins, tie rods, drag links, spring bushings, U-joints, etc and even several high mileage cars with original suspension/steering parts on them.

So it all comes down to maintenance and who is doing it for you. Seems like the owners who do their own do a better job than those who go to the Quick Lube or Walmart and buy milk and baby clothes at the same place

There are actually very few people who do their own maintenance anymore and the shoddy shops and Flat Rate dealers that exist in our world are probably doing you more harm than good by showing you a checksheet with a list of performed duties that were not done. This gives you that false sense of security that you are good to go. You cannot charge $20.00 for an oil change and make any money unless you simply change oil and filter and fill. A Flat Rate mechanic at a dealer or shop on average has to complete the job in 20 minutes or less to break even and this includes racking up the vehicle after they test drive (or do they test drive?) your car to listen and feel for safety issues.

If you go to one of these places that have this "Checksheet" they give you, I bet if you actually took the car home and went over the sheet yourself, you would find it to be a lie. You can tell if a diff plug on a pickup has been removed for a level check and you don't even have to bend over that far to see. One trick I seen before is a customer would let 10-15 pounds of air out of one tire and then have it serviced. They would be that same customer that you see in the parking lot checking his tire pressures and looking under the hood and under the car even though you just been there. That same customer would be the guy ripping your manager a new asshole at the service desk if you did not do your job correctly.

How many shops do you go to and actually see the mechanic or service writer take the car on a short spin down the road before bringing it into the service bay? How can they say the wheel bearings or suspension components are fine if they never drove it? Sometimes a "Shakedown" on the rack does not reveal what a simple 1 minute test drive can.

Just a few things related to fuel economy that I wanted to throw out there.

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Old 05-14-2008, 11:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't change my own oil because I don't have the time. However, when I do take it in I ask them not to check the tires or transmission fluid. I don't want them to change the air pressure (to 30 psi ) or add the wrong type of fluid. Also, I always have to remind them to keep the oil below the high mark on the dipstick. If I don't remind them (like last time) it will be over-filled.

I check the air filter and plugs myself 60% of the time. Just depends upon the amount of time I have.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Johnny Mullet -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
Since I got into the whole "Fuel Economy" thing I would have to say that poor maintenance is the number 1 reason for poor economy and wasted fuel.

...

How many shops do you go to and actually see the mechanic or service writer take the car on a short spin down the road before bringing it into the service bay? How can they say the wheel bearings or suspension components are fine if they never drove it? Sometimes a "Shakedown" on the rack does not reveal what a simple 1 minute test drive can.

Just a few things related to fuel economy that I wanted to throw out there.
I was still going to the Saturn dealership when they quoted me an $1800 transmission repair at 110K+ miles. I was just about to get rid of my SW2 because I couldn't justify the repair cost. My landscape-architect friend (who drives gazillions of miles per year) told me to go to his repair dude, who did it for $1100. He has the absolute most loyal customers you can imagine. On the same day I called him, he replaced my leaky radiator in less than 4 hours. Today I drove 26 miles to his shop just for an oil change.

For the non-mechanics among us, an honest service dude is an absolute must.

CarloSW2
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, my small town repair shop is the best for repairs. I love those guys.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm trying to do everything I can by myself without having to buy too many specialty tools. Tire rotations I get done for free from Discount Tires since I bought new tires from them about 5 months ago. I only have just over 32,000 miles on my car so not a lot has needed to be done.

Changing the transmission fluid and gasket was interesting, going to get a B&M transmission fluid cooler soon though and flush out all the old crap. Changing the oil/filter, cabin air filter, cleaning the engine air filter (K&N), checking tire PSI and tread level is all really easy though. I think I might need to bleed my brakes soon though, and see how my pads are doing, braking doesn't feel as quick as it used to not sure if it's just brake wear or air in the lines.

Other than that everything is in top shape, just the way I intend to keep it.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Anymore, I've done all of my own work on the cars. The TSX is still under warranty, so the dealer takes care of that (except routine maint -- oil, etc.), but with Teggy, I've been getting bolder with doing it myself.

The most complicated (for me) repairs have been a radiator replacement and valve cover gasket replace. I'm considering the next timing belt/water pump/pulleys myself -- but I may go back to the dealer. I know it's expensive, but they know the car vs. a random local mechanic (especially for a vital system for an interference engine). I'll have to see here in a year or so...

I'm not an expert or novice -- somewhere in the middle. Enough to get into trouble

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Old 05-14-2008, 11:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Only thing I took my Cavalier in for was the clutch. I simply can't do it as fast as a reputable shop can. For a daily driver, keeping downtime to a minimum is critical. Everything else I do myself.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Unlike you lucky fellers, Our local mechanics seem to be all hacks. I had my Tercel brought in for an oil change a few years back, and when I got home, I saw a puddle under the car. I was able to unscrew the oil plug with my fingers! the guy offered me more free oil changes...HA! That is when I decided if I wanted it done right, do it myself! Also had an AC unit replaced by another local hack (compressor lock) but still had cold air. When he was done, I had no cold air, a leaky new compressor, AND told me I needed a new evaporator(which I didn't) AND wanted 400 more dollars! I told him where to go and since had myself certified in auto A/C. Found out the only problem was loose compressor casing bolts!
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I do most of my own maintenance. I have to admit, I'm not as thorough as a good mechanic.

Agree 10000% about the oil change ripoff places, they've overfilled, underfilled, told me that my K&N needed to be replaced, etc. I only used them when I didn't have time to DIY, but now I think it's better for the car to go an extra 500-1000 miles on the old oil rather than to take it to those hacks.

I have, in the past, tried repairs that I've later regretted, so I've learned to take it to a mechanic in those cases. I have botched one engine swap (hint: don't try to install the engine solo), and a head (stripped plug threads, tried to vac all the bits out, but I missed apparently).
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:50 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Last time I took one of my cars to be wrenched on by someone else I saw them drop it off the lift, then they denied it, time before that I saw a mechanic doing a 30~45 second burn out in my car.

Now the closest I come is dropping off a rim to get a tire mounted. Much less problems now.

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