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Old 06-08-2012, 12:33 PM   #1
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There must be a better way.

Yesterday, I took my motorhome ('05 Fleetwood Providence), to the "Cat" , diesel shop, for service. In addition to the oil & filter changes, lubrication, etc., I ask them to check my engine belts and hoses, as they are the original equipment. I am planning a long trip and I don't want any probelms or surprises.

Today, I went to pick it up and got a bill for $837.60 (including taxes). Well, I was shocked! However, they told me that even though a new "serpintine belt", was only $52.58, the labor was $345.00! Then they explained that the mechanic had to go into my closet, remove clothes, shoes and two dining chairs (extra chairs, stored in the closet) and then pull up the closet floor, in order for the mechanic, to get at the belt. Since their labor charges are $115.00 and hour, it took them 3 hours to do the job.

Of course, I was somewhat upset at the total price, but I totally understand their problems when working on a motorhome, as opposed to diesel trucks, with the easy accessed engines. Plus, I am happy to know that I shouldn't have a broken belt, while on the road. Mind you, I'm not complaining about the company or the work...I'm just amazed at the costs of being an RV'er. With a $200 diesel fuel bill, today, I spent over $1,000 on the RV. And I haven't even started my trip!
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:49 PM   #2
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Sounds like the moral of the story is to clean out everything around the engine prior to having it serviced.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:54 PM   #3
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Plus, I am happy to know that I shouldn't have a broken belt, while on the road.
But you can't assume this, either. I had a broken serpentine belt replaced at a respectable shop and it broke about 25 miles later. Lucky I was still in town so they sent out a tech to replace it free. Sometimes those belts can sit there on a hook in the shop for years...and if they are hit by sunlight every day, can degrade. So, perhaps consider carrying a spare.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:11 PM   #4
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It would have been nice of then to call you and advise you of the problem, and ask if you wanted to come to the shop and move the stuff out of the way first.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:17 PM   #5
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In WA the shop is required to give you a $$ estimate, if it's going to be 10% or over higher then they must receive authorization before proceeding. If they don't get the authorization they can't place a mechanics lien on the rig. Every shop is supopoed to have a sign advising that but a lot don't.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:24 PM   #6
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No matter how you slice it, this is an expensive hobby. Being independently wealthless just makes it that much tougher.:-)
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
In WA the shop is required to give you a $$ estimate, if it's going to be 10% or over higher then they must receive authorization before proceeding. If they don't get the authorization they can't place a mechanics lien on the rig. Every shop is supopoed to have a sign advising that but a lot don't.
Same rule(s) in CA...but they have to have your approval for any work over the original estimate.

We all have to accept that no one NEEDS an RV. It's a RECREATION and I love having all my stuff when I recreate
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:54 PM   #8
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It was an expensive lesson! Now you will know that removing the clothes, etc will save money. There are shops that charge less for their labor than dealers. I suspect that the dealers mechanics will be more likely to receive ongoing training than they will in an independent shop. That may actually mean they can go directly to a problem and it would actually cost less than having someone less famaliar search at your expense! Not sure there is any right way beyond paying the bucks!
My problem is my age! I remember when gas was 19 cents a gallon and find it easy to still compare prices of today with what they were yesterday.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:14 PM   #9
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Gripper,
If you believed that B.S. on why so much time you are in for a real ride.
A lot of repair businesses are masters at taking a one hour job and making
it a three hour and the reasons given will amaze you.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:56 PM   #10
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It would have been nice of then to call you and advise you of the problem, and ask if you wanted to come to the shop and move the stuff out of the way first.
I agree with this statement, they should have contacted you. Especially if it's a shop that you've done business with before.

If they were familiar with your rig, they should have known how to access the engine to replace the serpentine belt and asked you to move the stuff then.
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:32 PM   #11
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I assume you have a Rear Radiator as opposed to a Side? I have changed the belt in my Spartan/Cummins with the Side Rad and it takes less than an hour even allowing for a couple of beers.
Before I bought my rig I looked at a few MHs with the Rear Rad and said to myself "This looks like a mechanics nightmare" so I carried on my search for only rigs with a Side Rad.
I can relate to the extra charges without your knowledge though. That is poor business practice.
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:53 PM   #12
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Why place all the blame for high prices and time spent on the workmen? OR, to expect them to call the customer for every variable involved in the work ordered and being done?

We've become masters at whining and placing ourselves in the pitiful position of a "poor victim"...

Precious few accept responsibility for their OWN actions - or preparations for doing a job, and expect the shop managers or workers to wet-nurse US thru the project. And exactly WHAT is that workman supposed to be DOING, while the shop manager calls the customer, then WAITS for them to arrive - then wait more - at the SHOPS expense - as the RV owner then does what they SHOULD have anticipated and done BEFORE bringing the rig in for repair?

What would YOU do as a shop owner - just smile as that mechanic stood an hour or more, on SHOP time, waiting for the customer?

I seriously doubt it...
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:05 PM   #13
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I have seen cars where the only way to replace that belt is to dis-mount the motor.

My observation and theory.

I used to own an older (70's) ford, and my Girlfriend (past, not one I married) an Olds of about the same vintage. In both cases it became necessary to replace/rebuild the heater core.

The procedure (Book says to drain the coolilng system, we don't do that, Just clamp off hoses).

Clamp off and remove heater hoses, connect to each other with bypass pipe (Short Iron pipe nipple).

Remove about a dozen screws, lift lid, lift pad, lift core use car to take core to rebuild place.

Re-install is reverse procedure only add a quart or so of coolant when done to replace what was lost.

That was too easy, so they fired the engineer who designed it and hired a new kid that came up with a better way.

Today's method.

Evacuate the air conditioner, Disconnect lines at fire wall and seal off.

Dissassemble the dash (At least half of it)

Drain cooling system (Ok we still clamp hoses). remove hoses from heater.

Slide air conditioner evaporator out on it's rails and lift heater core out from behind it.

See, much better, turned a 15 minute job into two hours.
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Old 06-08-2012, 05:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary - K7GLD View Post
Why place all the blame for high prices and time spent on the workmen? OR, to expect them to call the customer for every variable involved in the work ordered and being done?

We've become masters at whining and placing ourselves in the pitiful position of a "poor victim"...

Precious few accept responsibility for their OWN actions - or preparations for doing a job, and expect the shop managers or workers to wet-nurse US thru the project. And exactly WHAT is that workman supposed to be DOING, while the shop manager calls the customer, then WAITS for them to arrive - then wait more - at the SHOPS expense - as the RV owner then does what they SHOULD have anticipated and done BEFORE bringing the rig in for repair?

What would YOU do as a shop owner - just smile as that mechanic stood an hour or more, on SHOP time, waiting for the customer?

I seriously doubt it...
You are 100% correct.
However, when I was in business, I explained to the customer upfront that we would call if there were any major issues over and above the original problem. But, if we could not get confirmation in a timely mannner we would proceed using our best judgement. It saved us a lot of arguments when it came time to settle the bill. Nobody like surprises.
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