Smoking Dealers

I bought a 2008 VW GTI last fall and love the car, hoever I had my first oil change at the dealer not too long ago and the mechanic who serviced my car was a smoker, so my car smelled like smoke when I got it back. I dont have a problem with smokers but I dont smoke, so I would rather not have my car smell like smoke. is it reasonable for me to ask the dealer for a non smoking mechanic? how would you guys go about it? Thank you! (Please keep in mind the next nearest VW Dealer is an hour and 10 minutes away.)

It’s your car. Tell the service writer that you don’t want anyone to smoke in your car. Depending on how sensitive your nose is, a mechanic who smokes, may only have been in your car (not smoking). Anyway, tell the service writer, “Don’t stink up my car with cigar(ette) smoke!”

Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

[b] There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to document all maintenance work. [/b]

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

The dealer should have a rule that absolutely no one smokes in any car at all, period. You should alert the service manager as soon as possible to the error and insist that they do something to eliminate the odor. If they can’t do that, they should give you a free oil change for your trouble. BTW, just in case they don’t find ashes in the ashtray, the mechanic could easily have flicked his ashes and the butt out of the window. Depending where you live, this might be illegal, as in like a parking violation or spitting on the sidewalk - a nuisance. But illegal nonetheless. You need to look up laws in your state or locality to make sure about that, though.

I was a smoker for 40 years and I did everything to keep my smell to myself. I do not think that it is asking to much that the dealer keep your car stink free and/or they pay to get the stink out before they return the car to you.

I work at a dealership and NEVER would I smoke in someone elses car,common courtesy,even when i have a prob car that must be driven(if the cust does not smoke ,I have service manager drive it home ,with flight record hooked up.little commm sense never hurt anyone,and goes a long way

I doubt the mechanic actually smoked in your car-- but his coveralls probably reeked of the stuff and some probably rubbed off. Most shops will make a mechanic put down a seat cover, steering wheel cover, and floor mat before driving a customer’s vehicles. Next time, just voice your concerns and I’m sure they can have a non-smoker at least drive the car into the bay or make sure he’s extra-careful with the coverings. And if you were to complain immediately, you might score a free air freshener.

if you’re absolutely certain the problem was caused by the dealer tech then you should have a polite discussion with the service manager about this to ensure it does not happen again. i’m sure you will find they will gladly comply with your wishes.
it’s possible a tech did not smoke your car up. maybe it was a service writer who was moving the car around and a serv. writer would be more prone to smoking on the job than a tech. same thing though; discuss it with the service manager.

some things here puzzle me though.
why did you not say anything when you picked the car up?
did you not notice the smoke when you got into the car?
the tech would have spent very little time in your car other than driving it in and out of the shop so how could a smoke problem occur this quickly?

i know a lot of techs including many smokers and they do not smoke out in the shop; they save it for lunch, breaks, etc.
techs are not normally allowed to light up in the shop; or at least the shops i’ve been associated with.

Joe–I had to stop patronizing an independent mechanic many years ago because of the stinking stogie that he constantly had in his mouth. Of course, back in those days, asking someone to avoid smoking around you was tantamount to questioning motherhood and apple pie.

Nowadays, since we are a little more attuned to the rights of others, it is not unreasonable to request that nobody who smokes be allowed to enter your car. And, this has nothing to do with dealerships or independent mechanics. It is just a request that anyone has the ability to exercise, and that includes at a dealership.

In fact, given the probability that there is a much larger staff at a dealership, it is more likely that this could be accomplished successfully at a dealership. If I had requested that at the independent mechanic’s shop previously mentioned, it would have been impossible, due to the small staff, all of whom smoked. Some of them only smoked cigarettes, but the owner constantly had that rank “2 for a nickel” cigar firmly planted in his mouth.

ok4450, I didnt say anything because I noticed it when I got into the car to drive home, I picked the car up as the dealership was closing, I dont think the mechanic smoked in the car, I think that because he had to road test it, he was in it long enough to smell it up. This is my first new car so I am trying to do everything by the book, (the 5000 mile oil change was at 4960) I just want to make sure I don’t upset the dealer.

Thank you everybody for your help!

At the dealership where I work all cars get a free wash. For an oil change I believe the customer needs to request it. Ask for a car wash after your service and in a nice manner explain the problem and request that the cleanup crew use frebreze or something like that. It’s a semi-free country so the tech. can commit a long slow suicide if he wishes but the smell is sickening ( no offense intended to any smokers out there).

Right you are, meaneyedcatz. It may have been unintentional on the tech’s part, like Greasy Jack says, but Moynihand still should bring it up and get the dealer to remove the odor if it stays around. By the way, from your username you sound like a Johnny Cash fan. I wish he could post in and ask us about his Cadillac that he built “One Piece at a Time”!

Correct Karl, Ole Johnny is the man. For that Caddy we would see thousands of posts for the simplest of problems considering it’s a 49-50-51-52-53-54…

i don’t think you will upset anyone at all by bringing this up. just keep it polite and professional.
as a lttle p.r., the dealer should run your car back to the detail guys on your next trip in there and do a little complimentary cleaning.

you should go ahead and phone the service manager, explain the problem, and clear up in advance what they’re going to do about it. i think you will find that the service manager will be agreeable in this matter.

it’s possible that someone got careless with their cigarette use and the service manager will probably take steps to ensure this does not happen again; to you or anyone else.
(getting careless in a shop can also be very dangerous. a couple of guys who worked in the detail dept. of a dealer i worked for got to roughhousing by “sword fighting” with a pair of 3 foot long screwdrivers. one of the blades popped out, struck the other guy in the temple, and he fell to the floor instantly. he was DOA before the ambulance showed up.)

Or is would be more likely to find an independent shop that had no smokers since there would likely be fewer staff. However my point was that the OP has a choice and is not stuck with the dealer except for work covered under warranty.

I fully agree with the advice given here. However, from my own experience, I ask: are you sure it is tobacco smoke? I had a no-start Chevy wagon '84 towed in. Turned out to be failed canister purge valve, dumping gas into the canister. When I got the car back, I thought somebody had been smoking in it. Took it right back, and the very apologetic service manager arranged to have the interior shampooed for free. The shampoo helped some, but the smell lingered. Then I noticed that it was more acrid than tobacco smoke.

Turned out that the mechanic had left it idling for a looonnnng time to get the raw gas out of the canister (I forget who told me this). The catalytic converter got hot enough to melt the plastic layer under the carpeting, whence the stench.

Fine tune your nose, and make sure you know what the smell is.