Magnetic Ride Control Struts, High Cost to Replace

I have a 2008 Buick Lucerne CXS with the Northstar V-8 & an special suspension.It has 88,000 miles Its an Electronic Front Strut called Magnetic Ride Control. I took it in to have the brakes checked. The Mechanic found the brakes were OK but the front wheel bearings were loose & one strut was leaking. I got a quote for something like $800 to replace the struts. I ok’d that repair & then got the call that after getting one strut off the mechanic discovered that they were the MRC version. Cost is now 875-925 each for the parts only. YEOW. I was told that it was a dealer available part not available any other way. WHAT DO YOU DO. That repair came to about $1950 after getting the alignment checked. The part # for the strut is 19300024.
So after I get the repair done I do some checking On-line. I find the same strut @ for $470.97 each. It displays genuine GM parts with the GM warranty. I feel deceived by the shop that this part is only available thru a dealer & miffed about the cost. I go to a second shop to get an estimate. Its about the same cost as the first. When I asked about the On-line part I’m told that is an inferior part that they can install if I buy it but they can’t warranty the repair. He tells me their is a reason that part is so much cheaper, it’s made cheaper. I’m thinking it comes off the exact same assembly line & the dealer just likes to make $600 on the part as opposed to maybe $200. Or what ever their mark up is.
My question is , what to others that have experience with this type of issue have to say. Would I have been OK to buy that part myself & save basically $800 on this already expensive repair.

Sure, if you are going to install it yourself. Your dealer profits from the parts they sell, just like they profit from the cars they sell. Your plumber makes a profit on the tubs, toilets and faucets He sells. It is the way business works. You can get a large bottle of aspirin at a dollar store , but you will pay a lot more than one dollar for a single aspirin in the hospital.

I checked out that link

That is a genuine GM part, not an “inferior part”

Shops make a fair profit by marking up the parts. If they didn’t do so, they’d be out of business quickly

I agree with oldtimer on this

It seems the wholesale price for each strut is $471. Your shop may have bought them locally for $575 each and charged you $875 each, that is a profit of $600 as you said. That is common business, shops markup the price of parts.

In the city that I live in the lease on a small shop is at least $5000 per month, it is necessary to make a profit on the parts. You can save a lot of money by performing your own repairs.

Another vote for oldtimer.

Regarding the hospital and aspirin prices, my wife was in the hospital for a week not too long ago. The bill that arrived in the mail was about 10 pages long.
Aspirin (@ one a day) was 8 bucks a pop.

How much does a bottle of Chateaux Le Snoot cost at the local liquor store? Now, how much does that bottle of wine cost when purchased at a restaurant?

Works the same way in the repair business…

You had a costly annoying experience, but don’t let your aggravation lead you to thinking the shop is crooked.

The shop earns that profit because they are putting up their own capital (or credit) to buy the part for you and because of the time and effort it takes them to identify and order it. Say it takes 30 or 60 minutes to look up – and search for a good deal on – and order the part. (How long did it take you to find the bargain on-line, once the shop told you the part number?) That same 30 or 60 minutes could have been spent on some high-tech repair at he regular shop rate.

When the shop said “available only from dealer,” they might have meant “not from our usual local non-dealer (maybe after-market) parts sources.” Those local sources, including the dealer, usually deliver to the shop within hours. (If not, you have to pay for the shop’s time to pick it up.) How long would you have to wait for the on-line part?

Some of the on-line bargain parts are OK quality, and some of them are junk. (Lots of stories on this site about crummy brake rotor steel.) The shop may have been more than honest in declining to use the bargain part. They may have been acting in your interest.

I know all those things, and I am just a DIYer, and I have never run a business.

Of course, maybe the shop IS crooked, but I doubt it.

Yeah, I would translate that to “only available from the manufacturer, for pick-up at the dealership.” Obviously, the dealer doesn’t actually “make” parts! And the typical way of getting “Genuine GM parts” is to swing by the dealer. (Of course, the wonder that is the intertubes has changed things somewhat.)

There is only one company that makes these parts. A former GM division that was sold to the Chinese now called BWI. The GMpartsdirect sites is exactly that GM Part Direct so you are getting the same part installed on your car at the factory. They are very high-tech parts made by only one supplier and the price reflects it. For $1950, seems like they replaced both? That wasn’t really necessary since it is the exact same part so it matches the one that hasn’t leaked.

I won’t tell you how much they actually cost to make, 'cause that would only upset you.

Thanks for everybody’s input. Just to be clear what soured me on the
repair was when the shop ( Brakes Plus) called to tell me the vehicle
didn’t have normal struts but the MRC units. The repair started at under
$900 for parts (2-struts) & labor. Now the parts alone are $1750. I was
told straight up that was their cost & they weren’t adding any mark-up
because they felt bad about not knowing the car had these expensive struts
before they gave an estimate. Shouldn’t they have known from the VIN number
the car had the MRC struts?

This is straight up deceptive & probably a lie.
Thats what I’m angry about. The second shop told me if I wanted to buy the
shocks myself that gladly put them on but they couldn’t warranty them.
Because they would be inferior. If I could roll back the clock that’s what
I’d have done. GM warranty would have covered the struts whether the
second shop would or not. If a dealer doesn’t install the parts I’d be on
the hook for the labor for a warranty replacement.

It’s that kind of deceptive practices that give shops a bad name.

I like GM cars. I have a driveway littered with them.

First, the shop should have given you a better estimate originally. It seems to me (I could be wrong, but usually not) that had they used the VIN (unique Vehicle Identification Number) to collect parts prices for an accurate estimate they would have caught the high strut prices. A VIN should reveal the exact parts on the car and therefore the trigger the exact replacement parts (and prices).

Second, shame on GM for putting Rolls-Royce priced parts on a Buick! The suspension system is probably great, but just not practical. What were they thinking (probably weren’t)? Just about every manufacturer does stupid things from time to time. It’s not just GM.

I wonder how many pickup owners will find out how $moothly their truck rides in 5 years when they still owe 24 payments

I’m not sure where people get this idea that every repair shop searches for parts based on VINs. AFAIK, only the dealership does that. Most chains and independents use the same approach the parts houses use- make, model, year and options to search on available parts for that vehicle. That being said, they should have done that prior to providing an estimate.

Personally, I wouldn’t have gotten so bent out of shape on that oversight. It happens and they’re catching the mistake and letting you know. Someone obviously overstepped their role saying they were not charging more than their cost due to the oversight. I really wouldn’t expect that kind of compensation myself anyway, just a fair price for the work required…


I searched the magnetic shocks for the GMC in my linked commercial and found they were available from GM direct for$366 each and not listed at McParts or direct from Monroe. I wonder if the McParts stores will notify their customers if the conventional shock is a direct replacement? And is there a conventional strut for the OP’s Buick?

TT, are you referring to my post (and me)? If not, please explain what you are referencing.

You’re not sure where “people” get this idea?

Let me help. I didn’t say that every shop uses a VIN to check parts (heck, some don’t even know the model-year or model). This person gets this idea because this person usually uses a VIN to check on parts (price and availability) or at least it is ready and offered. Believe it or not, many (most) parts stores can use the VIN for this purpose. It isn’t only dealers.

Strange, but True
Besides that, the dealer is usually included in my parts searches. Sometimes, but albeit not often, but sometimes I have found a genuine part at the dealer for a better price than an aftermarket part at a McParts store.

There is a very steep learning curve in the independent auto repair business and those who are unwilling to take it on need to stay home.

Yeah, a shop is going to go to your car, write down a 20 digit VIN and then go into a search on the computer and re-type that entire VIN… when they can enter year make, model and engine type, usually with pull down menus that adjust based on the prior info entered…being able to do it and ACTUALLY doing it are two different things.

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First, I must disclose some things. I have sold parts for years and managed a parts department for 2 years. I have managed a body shop and have been a service writer. So I know a thing or two from that perspective. I have been frustrated many times trying to help mechanics or customers who didn’t have/know their VIN.

I maintain and repair several cars at a time, doing fairly major repairs. I’m the one who orders the parts for the vehicles. So, I know a thing or 2 from that perspective.

Any quality repair facility is going to have every vehicle’s VIN on a repair order prior to the car entering the shop. Also, most sophisticated scanners use the VIN. What the heck, I’d bet if you go to some tire stores of even Wal-Mart the employees record the VIN for each vehicle.

To not utilize the VIN when working on vehicles is nuts. When I go car shopping I always check with my insurance company to see what a vehicle will cost to insure. Guess what they need? The VIN. A Make, Model, and Model-Year leaves out quite a bit of meaningful information.

The VIN from a Buick will only provide basic information, year, make, model, engine, passive restraint system, body style and build location.

For specific build features a dealer can inquire with the manufacture for the information by VIN, the information is not stored on the dealers computer.

Alldata has a RPO chart to check specific build features from the vehicles data plate, if someone wants to take the time to look these up.

Electronically controlled and adjustable dampers are common, just look for the wires going into the strut or shock and you probably have the most expensive suspension available for that vehicle.

800 for 2 struts? Jeez, things cost $$$ these days. U would think std GM struts would be $100 each so install is 600? Now, add the mrc struts and u get a $2k bill.