My Husband Rocks
When I bought a BMW a few months ago, I knew that I should expect to pay an arm and a leg for maintenance once the original warranty expired. Mitigating that concern was my husband's promise that he would handle at least part of the basic maintenance to keep the expenses down. So I bought the car and I love it.
The original warranty expired two months ago and last week the "Engine Oil Level Low" light came up. I made an appointment with the local BMW dealer (South Bay BMW) to get what turned out to be a $325 oil change and an aggravating waste of my Saturday dealing with their bullshit.
Although we had a 10:00 a.m. appointment, it took an hour for a service advisor to write down "oil change" on a piece of paper. We did not leave the dealership until 11:00 a.m. and the phone call from the service representative came two hours later. With a serious tone, he told me that the oil "service" was done but the technician found several items of concern on my car. "The brake fluid is black sludge, we need to bleed the brakes, the brakes have 20 percent remaining and the rotors need to be changed, the belts are cracked and dry and could snap and you know what happens when a belt snaps". My head was starting to spin. He went on, "the car needs fuel service, the bushings are worn...."
That was it. I understood everything he said until he got to bushings. "Excuse me, I am going to put my husband on the phone."
Hubby began a series of "uh huh, ok, uh huh, yes, I understand." Then he began the questions, "are you telling me that a 4-year-old BMW wears that badly?", "it only has 46,000 miles", how much is labor?", "how much would all of that cost"?
Both of us nearly had a heart attack when he said $2,950! I was already pissed off about wasting an hour to be serviced, but that did it. The service rep said that the parts would be $900 and the labor would be the remaining $2,000. Given that labor is $150 per hour, it was 1:00 p.m. and the dealership closed at 5:00 p.m., how does $600 turn into $2,000? Hubby said "I am coming down to the dealership right now. I want to meet with the mechanic and see everything wrong with the car."
Did I mention that my husband is an aerospace engineer who designs rocket engine components and used to design turbochargers for engines and restores cars as a hobby?
The service rep greeted us friendly enough and walked us into the service bay (which was impressively clean by the way). Along the way, he explained why certain of the needed repairs could not be done at home because they require sophisticated tools, blah, blah, blah. This asshole has not seen our garage.
Piece by piece, Hubby followed the mechanic's flashlight around the car. The "black sludge" of the brake fluid looked like apple juice, a shade darker than what new brake fluid looks like. Those cracked and dry belts were no more cracked or dry than a belt that has been used for a little while - unless the belt is frayed, there is no great cause for alarm. The bushings, one of the things that service rep said you need a hydraulic press to replace, were accessible by hand and, at worst, would need a C-clamp, which we have at home.
It made me so happy when Hubby said "there isn't anything of immediate concern on here and anything that needs to be replaced, I can do myself. Please put the car back together and we will buy the parts."
I can only assume that the dealer gets away with these antics becase most people in my middle class suburban, latte-drinking utopian neighborhood do not understand enough to question what the representative said or would be too embarassed to question the cost out of fear of appearing poor. Either way, we are never going back to South Bay BMW, we saved $2,000 (we bought the $900 in parts) and my husband rocks.