Is the dealer ervice deparment ripping me off?

2003 Ford Explorer, service engine light has been on for almost a year vehicle runs great, garage said it’s a bad ground wire to the ECM board, dealer would have to fix it. Took it to dealer, diagnostic said “computer is shot”. They wanted $1600.00 for new computer. I took it in and they replaced the computer. Engine light is still on and they have had it for 22 days. They first thought it was cam positioner sensor, then spark plugs, now they think it’s in the timing belt and want $1200.00 labor just to get into the engine to quote the repair. Again, they vehicle was running great when I took it in. Is this unheard of, are they ripping me off, I have no confidence in them at all now.

There is a Ford dealer in Delaware that ripped off my mom and my in-laws. I don’t think they know what’s wrong and are pulling at straws. I personally would get it to a mechanic. Check the Mechanics Files link for someone in your area.

There are several dealerships I’ve dealt with where I live that aren’t actively trying to rip people off, but that have absolutely no one on staff who can diagnose anything. They plug the car into a computer, peer at what pops up on the screen, and think that’s diagnosing, then swap whatever part the computer says is bad. Troubleshooting never happens, and so a lot of crap gets worked on that doesn’t need to be worked on.

So, they might not be trying to rip you off, but it’s entirely possible that they’re incompetent and going on a parts-replacing spree with your money.

I would try the original mechanic again, see if he has a new diagnosis. If yu get a free rental, let them take all the time in the world, if not, 22 days is an abomination!

In a 2003 vehicle the having more then computer issue is likely. The working/replaced computer now can actually give a code to further problems lurking.

I’m a bit hesitant to say you’re being ripped off as that denotes planned thievery. As to the problem I have no idea due to lack of knowledge of diagnostic code history and the line of thinking behind any of the repairs.

An engine can run fine and run fine forever with the CEL illuminated. It depends on what is triggering the CEL.

I’m assuming the “timing belt” is a misunderstanding and what is being referred to is a chain, not a belt. I’d also be hesitant to dig into an engine chain replacement based on a guess.

Have they given you a reason or spelled out any codes as to why they’re wanting to go fishing?

Isn’t that a 4.0L V-6 with a timing chain on either end, or did that come a little later? If so, the engine must be pulled to change both chains. It’s not a $200 job. I’ve heard others complain that they received that they got $1500 quotes. I’m not saying that the timing chains are a correct diagnosis, but they could be.

Mileage of vehicle ?

Most “ripping off” is the result of incompetence. Dealer mechanics are often not very good at trouble-shooting problems and like a quack doctor will try various things at the customer’s expense.

I once brought a rear drive Chevy V8 in with a leaking heater core. I was told they needed to do a “thorough investigation” to identify the problem, while all they had to do was look at the sticky stuff on the inside of the windshield.

I let them talk to my regular mechanic who told them exactly what had to be done and what the charge would be, which was less than the dealer’s.

In summary, there are far more incompetent than crooked mechanics. Chains often have crooked practices by selling client shock absorbers they don’t need and other such easy to install stuff.

Then even the good ones can be stumped sometimes but they should explain what they think and what it will cost and you can make the decision to try it or go somewhere else. Sounds like they are getting stumped though a little too soon.