I am in the process of getting estimates for replacing the timing belt on my 2004 Honda Accord V6. The high bid is around $1070 - my local repair shop (excellent rep, been working on my car for years). The low bid is $750 - from my local Honda Dealer. Why do you think there is such a difference between estimates?
Variations in overhead?
I’m surprized. Based on my personal experience I would have expected the dealership to be higher. Unless you have some experiential reason to mistrust them, go to the dealership.
The first thing to do is to make sure that everyone is giving you a quote for the exact same amount of work. In addition to the timing belt, you should have the serpentine belt, water pump, and all belt tensioners replaced at the same time. Omitting even one of these so-called “extras” has a high probability of costing you more in the long run. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, please let me know.
So–while it is possible that the Honda dealer is giving you a quote only for the timing belt replacement, and that the indy guy is including all of the above-named parts, it is also possible that the Honda dealer’s price for everything that I listed is actually cheaper than the indy shop’s price.
I have noticed on numerous occasions that Honda dealers frequently have better prices for timing belt-related work than other shops. They invariably charge more for other services, but for some reason, they frequently seem to have the best prices for the type of work that your car currently needs.
Do both quotes include a new water pump and tensioner? What is the hourly labor rate at both shops? The price they charge for parts can be very different.
Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
I have no idea. Usually the dealership is a lot more expensive than the independent guys. I’d say maybe the local shop is including a water pump replacement, but the dealer should include that too, and besides that wouldn’t account for almost $300 in price difference.
For that price, I’d check online to see if there were any complaints about that specific dealership, and assuming everything looked good, I’d let the dealership do it.
If it were a 4 cylinder, I’d automatically say to go to the dealer because of some particularities with that engine. I don’t know about the V6, whether it needs special tools and techniques like the 4 does.
Since this is your first belt change, I would not worry about all the stuff that VDCdriver is concerned about. The likelihood of any of those parts failing is extremely remote, but it is true that if any of them fail, with the exception of the serpentine belt, it will cost you an engine.
As long as you’ve paid a mechanic to tear down to the t-belt, you might as well replace the water pump and tensioner because they’re right there. Otherwise, if the water pump leaks or fails in 20,000 miles, you get to pay for the tear-down again.
The other belts are cheap, and it’s as good a time as any to do it.
Dealer Service Departments Are Not All Radioactive !
2nd Biggest Car Myth: “Usually the dealership is a lot more expensive than the independent guys.”
This could vary from location to location, I suppose, but this has not been my experience in my neck of the woods. Also, I am more likely to get quality repairs and quality parts at the dealers near me. Sometimes independents are cheaper on some items, but not everything. I call around to a number of facilities that I trust.
"I have noticed on numerous occasions that Honda dealers frequently have better prices for timing belt-related work than other shops. "
"If it were a 4 cylinder, I’d automatically say to go to the dealer because of some particularities with that engine. I don’t know about the V6, whether it needs special tools and techniques like the 4 does.
This is possibly a good example. Is it possible that working on primarily one make of car, having special tools up the kilt, and the experience of performing a certain operation weekly or more often (as opposed to almost never) makes the job a cake walk for a dealer tech ?
Because of these advantages, a job that “pays” 4 hours labor could take an independent guy 3 to 5 hours to complete and the dealer tech just 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Some of these guys could literally do a timing belt on a Civic or Accord, blind-folded.
So, throw a certain dealer or certain independent (Yes, I’ve seen bad ones) under the bus, but please don’t automatically trash all dealer service, prices or quality.
Just like that other myth, it doesn’t wash with my own experiences.
Thanks, I feel much better, now.
Good summary, CSA!
Dealerships generally have more overhead than independent shops, and they also have a somewhat captive audience as many people think they HAVE to have their car serviced at the dealership. Perhaps your neck of the woods is an automotive mecca, but in the 6 states I’ve lived in, the dealership was almost (note that I said almost, and before I said usually) always more expensive for a given repair.
As for quality repairs and parts, frankly it’s difficult to be assured of getting quality repairs from anyone these days, independent or dealership. As has been discussed on here before, there’s a trend in the repair industry to ask the computer what to do, and then throw whatever parts are in the flowchart at it and hope the problem goes away. I’ve had this experience both with dealers and independents, but I think to say that it is more likely to have quality work done at the dealership is a statement from a bygone era.
Usually, Always, Almost Always, Sometimes, Never . . .
Like I said, things can vary from place to place and it depends on the specific repair, etcetera. I think people should have a dealer they can work with and trust, as well as an indepedent and then call and inquire. Scheduling the work is another factor that can help make a decision easier if one place is too busy or needs the vehicle too long.
And that’s another thing, " . . . the dealership is a lot more expensive . . . " is usually not my experience when they are more expensive. It’s usually a little more expensive.
I’m just saying that personally, I’ve had almost all good experiences with my local dealers and . . .
I’ve got Gurus in a couple of repair facilities (You know, like an “in-house OK4450”). One guy has been with GM (talks like an air traffic controller) and the other guy with Chrysler (still looks like a 70s hippie), both for over 30 years. They are always willing to help me even when I want to DIY. They like talking cars.
My vote is that the independent is imagining that Hondas are tough to work on or they don’t have the right tools or something. They may also have easier work that they prefer to do, like flushing wallets.
Most independent shops price the timing belt job, with a new water pump, tensioner, new serpentine belt, and new coolant. The Honda dealer could be quoting just the timing belt and labor to install the timing belt and not the other parts. Then when your car is half apart the service writer will come out and “up sell” you more stuff.
Be sure the Honda dealer is quoting all the same parts to be replaced as your other shop.