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Ripping off the pregnant lady?

Maybe you all can give me a reality check.

My darling wife, who’s about 90 months pregnant and in fact due TODAY took our 1995 chrysler town and country with 40k miles on it to the dealer. It was making a funny noise the other morning (directly proportional to engine revs, with or without tranny engaged…) and the check engine light came on. It otherwise operates just fine.

They said it needed a valve in the emissions system. Eg or something. $500. Fair enough, I guess.

But they also talked her into $900 worth of:

fuel injector flush/clean

transmission fluid flush

brake fluid flush

She didn’t bother to ask me about this stuff, or rather, left me a message on my cell phone saying “I assume this $1,500 is fine if I don’t hear back from you in 15 minutes…” Needless to say I was in a meeting without my cell phone, and by the time I called the dealer to halt the work and get an explanation, it was done. (which raises the question to me of how on earth 3 “flushes” that took an hour to do could be worth $900…)

Now, i talked to the mechanic, and he told me the usual stuff: the fluids were “filthy,” etc. I believe this to be the usual snake oil used to sell this kind of repair. Of course they’re filthy. They run around inside a car. The issue is whether or not that matters, and I’ve seen little to suggest it does.

He went on to claim that my fuel injectors were “spraying drops, not a mist,” and when I inquired how he could possible see that, or know that, he stammered that the throttle was black inside, and that’s how you know.

As it was too late, and my wife had OKed this work, I did not lay into them other than to let them know that I considered their tactics suspect, given that they had a pregnant woman there who knows nothing about anything mechanical.

harold, of course, was offended by this, and assured me “we don’t do business that way.” I told him, “Sorry Harold, but I don’t know how you do business.” and let it go.

Thoughts? Do I ever use these bozos again? Were they on the up and up, or does this sound as bogus to others as it does to me.

Normally I’d say ripoff, but some questions: how long has it been since you had trans fluid changed? Brake fluid? For a 1995, you may have needed these two. The FI flush is less likely, but didn’t hurt anything. Too much $$? Certainly, but that’s what happens when you go to a dealer. Find a good independent mechanic.

Best reason to go find an independent. Brake fluid renew runs about $125 or less in my area, with independent mechanics doing the work. ATF fluid exchange, which is probably needed due to age of car, $200 or less. FI cleaning questionable. Remainder is additional dealer profit.

No, I wouldn’t use this dealer again, for anything. I have noted a tendency on the part of service advisors to pressure my wife and my daughter into doing extra services other than what was asked for. They have both been carefully trained to say that they need to check with hubby or Dad before doing anything. This allows them to exit gracefully from the shop.

40K miles on a 15 year old car is very low mileage per year. This puts it in the “severe service” category. If these fluids were changed a year or so ago, then you were had. If they are the original fluids then you were way overdue. If a little money spent on a 15 year old car keeps it going, I say relax and worry about something else. Like that baby your wife is about to have any minute.

No need to take a 15 year old car to a dealer, and this little trip should make the decision easy. Ask around at work, church, groups of friends, etc. and find yourself a mom & pop mechanic for all your car’s needs. I like mom & pops because you can usually deal with the owner directly, rather than some snot-nosed service writer who doesn’t really care about retaining your business. Also your owner’s manual has a maintenance schedule in it, perhaps you and your wife should sit down and go over it so youre both on the same page as far as what this car needs and what it does not need.

At first glance, I thought maybe Harold had a boat payment due, but it sounds as if he had a corporate jet airplane payment due. I think I would find an honest independent garage. The fluid changes may have been needed, but the price seems very high to me. I would rather a business change the transmission fluid and filter rather than doing a flush. Since your car was brought in for an engine problem, I don’t understand why they were concerning themselves with the transmission and brakes. Unless the dealer pulled the injectors, I don’t know how they knew anything about the spray pattern.

The last bad experience I had with a dealer was back about 1987. My Dad had taken his 1983 Buick Century to the dealer for a tune-up. The car ran worse when he got it back than when he took it in. Repeated trips back did not correct the problem. My mother was complaining about the how poorly the car ran one Sunday when we were over at their house. I went out and we started the car. I opened the hood and heard a slight hissing sound. I found a vacuum hose was disconnected. The car ran much better, but was sluggish. The dealer’s service department had retarded the timing in an attempt to fix the problem. I went back to the dealer with my dad to have them reset the timing. The dealer had the audacity to try to charge for advancing the timing and adjusting the carburetor. When I objected, the service writer said that the original bill was for a tune-up. This bill was for setting the timing and adjusting the carburetor. I told him that a proper tune-up on this car meant setting the timing and adjusting the carburetor if necessary. The service writer disagreed, and finally got the service manager. The service manager finally admitted that I was right after he asked me if I knew anything about cars. I scared the hell out of him when I responded “You go get a car that is giving your service department trouble and get your best technician. I’ll bet you a month’s paycheck that I can find the problem before he does”. I then explained that the service department had not reconnected the vacuum hose when they originally set the timing. The service manager then said that we didn’t have to pay this bill and he would determine a proper charge. I told him that the charge should be zero. We left. The dealer called my parents the next day and said that they had erased the charge.

The sad thing is that this dealer had taken over the business from another Buick dealer who ran an excellent service department. The new dealer didn’t last very long. I have a good independent shop that does my work. As soon as a car is off warranty, the dealer’s service department never sees me again.

“took our 1995 chrysler town and country with 40k miles on it to the dealer”

I blew that. It’s a 2005, not a 1995.


I second that one. Additionaly even the independants overcharge on trans drop and fills (even more on flushes) and whay so much on brake fluid re-news,perhaps I am losing touch on just how far $100.00 goes.

$125.00 for a brake fluid flush,what does it take 15 min? and the trans drop and fill .6 or .7 labor is all it takes.

Complete bogus on the F.I. work. There should be a consumer uproar against expensive flushes,

Just got a look at the receipt. I leave aside the EGR valve replacement ($454.28) assuming that’s OK. Here’s the rest of what they told her had to be done because “it’s a mess in there.”

Throttle cleaning: $158.95
Fuel injector cleaning: $158.95
Transmission flush: $295.00
Power steering flush: $144.95
Brake fluid flush: $134.95

Wallet flush…priceless.

Sorry, but they did a full $$ flush job. Power steering is the absolute give away, but none were likely needed.

Yes, based on your costs, I’d say you paid more than you had to. But I don’t see that as your biggest issue at hand. I wouldn’t be as concerned about the repair bill as I would be about your wife. If she is 90 months pregnant, she must really be irritable about now. And you? You must have a lot of patience. I would have ran out of patience probably about 81 months ago. Good luck with your repaired car and new baby!

Well, she looks 90 months pregnant. Could be 100.

A brake fluid change is in order, the transmission fluid might be a little early, and the fuel injector cleaning is a solid rip off. There is some controversy around here concerning when to change the auto trans fluid. A couple of thoughtful members think that every 30,000 miles is about right.

“Well, she looks 90 months pregnant. Could be 100.”

Wait’ll she finds out you called her an elephant!

The fuel injector cleaning and the throttle cleaning were a complete waste of money unless you were experiencing some kind of problems.

You could have had your transmission drained and refilled for $40, and the power steering flush was nothing more than a drain and refill, which should have also cost about $40.

Guess I’ll be the odd man out again to some degree and say that you were maybe half-BSed.
At 5 years/40k miles the trans fluid and brake fluid definitely need to be changed.
If the EGR system had a fault then it’s entirely possible the entire induction system needed to be cleaned as many EGR faults go hand in hand with a sooted up induction system.
Power steering flush? Not a bad idea ever so often but that’s a toss-up.
The fuel injector cleaning is also a toss-up. When an injector develops a spray pattern problem (drops vs. mist) this will usually show up as a stumble at idle. Sometimes this stumble may be very subtle.

You did not state your locale but the east and west coasts have much higher labor rates than other parts of the country.
If flat rate gives an hour for a procedure and the labor rate is 125 bucks an hour then it won’t take long to add up to a chunk of money.

Alright ok4450, I like your line of thinking, rational & factual.

  1. I had stated many times here that brake fluid is hygroscopic, it absorbs water and that leads to rusted out brake lines.
  2. The prices seem high but locale could a factor here.
  3. Everybody is under the assumption that dealers are the worst possible slumps to go to but I have been treated best by dealers and it’s the independents that have and tried to ream me. IMOO it’s the independents that give car repair a bad name.
  4. With all due respect to your wife, she could have said no on the spot and checked with you later, and, why did you not take the car to the shop? I do not ask this mean spirited, but I would never have my wife take a car to a shop partly for this reason but I have been around cars my whole life.

I have also usually been treated well by dealers usually, but this seemed really suspicious. None of this maintenance is suggested in the manual, so if it’s standard, why isn’t it there?

Sure the wife could have said no, but she is, unfortunately, the trusting kind. Me, I require a bit better explanation than “it’s a mess in there.” She needed an oil change and had a coupon, so she went. (Coupon worked out well for them… They gave up $20 worth of oil change and gained only $900 in flush money.) I thought she had listened to enough Car Talk, and the stories of the Wallet Vac, to know to be skeptical of flush offers. Apparently not.

As I said, this car had absolutely no operating issues except that engine light code, so I really doubt that this stuff was necessary.

I hear what you are saying and I am sorry to hear that this happened. I do not doubt that this to a good extent was a hose job. With that said I feel the brake flush was a good idea but pricey. I do the same thing in my driveway, for the cost of my time and some new brake fluid.