I was very angry at Dan Porter Motors’ service department in Dickinson, North Dakota for attempting to take over $1,000 from me by performing repairs on my vehicle that didn’t need to be done.
When I first wrote this blog post article on Tuesday, I explained what happened to me, but I didn’t want to name this Dickinson car dealership at the time, for several different reasons. One reason was, that in order to demonstrate very clearly that the repairs this dealership wanted to perform were not needed, I thought that I could show this in a video, and that may be the best time to name this dealership, when I showed video proof that there are no leaks on this vehicle.
A second reason was, I thought that I could have a second talk with this car dealership management and come to an understanding with them, that I am paying dealership prices in order to get the most competent and knowledgeable mechanic to perform repairs and maintenance on my vehicle, to advise me when repairs are needed, but how can I trust them when they are wanting to perform work that I know doesn’t need to be done?
A third reason for not wanting to name this car dealership at the time, was that I was sensing that something was wrong. I saw many new people at this dealership, it seemed much different, it seemed like something bad had just happened, a mass firing, a mass quitting, a change in behavior of the owner?
In Dickinson, I have been to the Dodge dealer service department about six times, the Ford dealer service department about four times, and the Toyota dealer service department about six times. At each car dealership service department in Dickinson, the maintenance and repairs were always performed competently, but the prices were pretty high.
In the past seven years of living in Dickinson, I have spent about $1,500 each, at the Dodge dealer, Ford dealer, and Toyota dealer on maintenance and repairs. I never experienced a blatant attempt to rip me off at a car dealership in Dickinson, until today. In the past, it was just a high shop rate for work that needed to be done.
In August I bought a very nice, very clean, very good-condition used vehicle for $2,250 from a private seller in Dickinson. I drive 26,000 miles per year, to and from the industrial site where I work, so I want to have a low-cost, yet reliable vehicle, to get to and from work.
Before I bought this used vehicle, before I even spoke to the seller, I looked at it very closely where it had been parked in the same spot for two weeks, and I saw that this vehicle was not leaking any oil, transmission fluid, or coolant. When I test drove this vehicle and parked it, left it running, and checked it again, it was not leaking anything at all.
After owning this vehicle for three months, driving it to and from work, putting as much as 700 miles on it per week, and checking where I park it in the same spot every day, it is not leaking oil, transmission fluid, or coolant, not one drop. After putting 3,000 miles on it, I might have added 1/2 quart of motor oil, which is normal or very good oil consumption for an older, used, high-mileage vehicle.
On Monday, I went to work at 3:00 p.m., and I got home from work seventeen hours later at a little after 7:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. I slept for two hours, and then I got up in order to take my vehicle to Dan Porter Motors’ service department for an oil change appointment at 10:15 a.m.
When I arrived at Dan Porter Motors’ service department, there were many new faces at this dealership, including several new-hires as service writers. I said to the available service-writer, that I was here for a full-service oil change, that I had bought this vehicle a couple of months ago, could they be sure to check the rear differential fluid level, I don’t know when it was checked last.
I never requested a vehicle inspection, I was very happy with this vehicle, I had experienced no problems with it at all. The service-writer somehow got the impression that I was interested in a vehicle inspection, or that I might have had doubts about this vehicle. The mechanic “went to town”, and I had no idea that this was going to happen, this dealership had never done this to me before.
About two hours later, this is what the car dealership service-writer presented to me:
- Engine oil leaking from oil pan gasket, oil leaking from oil pressure sensor, and oil leaking from engine crank shaft seal. Oil pan gasket repair $487, oil pressure sensor leak repair $96, crank shaft seal leak repair $168.
- Transmission fluid leaking from pan, leak repair $386.
- Rear differential service $116.
This is $1,137 in “leak repair”. I said to the service-writer, you must be mistaken, you must be talking about a different vehicle, my vehicle doesn’t leak anything at all. I asked to speak to the service department manager, who I had spoken to before in the past about my other two vehicles that I had been bringing here for service and repairs.
I was very angry, but I think that I was able to convey my two main points to the service department manager. One, I have owned this vehicle for several months, I regularly check where it is parked, and it doesn’t leak one drop of anything. Two, I only paid $2,250 for this twenty year old, 200K mileage vehicle, why are you trying to tell me that it needs $1,137 in oil leak repairs, it doesn’t leak oil, and it doesn’t use oil. And, I didn’t ask for a vehicle inspection in the first place.
I telephoned the private seller of this vehicle, whose profession is automobile mechanic, to ask him what he thought. I told him that I was very happy with this vehicle, I knew that he had replaced the valve cover gasket as this was the only oil leak that he knew of, I never saw that this vehicle leaked anything whatsoever since I bought it. I read to him the repair estimate from this car dealer service department. I later made a copy of this repair estimate, and I went over it with the vehicle seller in person.
The vehicle seller was a little shocked at the repair estimate from the Dan Porter Motors that I showed to him, because this vehicle didn’t need these repairs. Sometimes, either the mechanic or the dealership, takes the initiative to try to come up with repairs that they can perform, that aren’t needed.
On a twenty year old vehicle with 200K miles, there are all kinds of things that you could say needed to be replaced. You could probably say that the wheel bearings needed to be replaced, the brake calipers needed to be replaced, the drive shaft universal joints should be replaced, the upper and lower ball joints needed to be replaced, the radiator needed to be replaced, the shocks and struts needed to be replaced, the catalytic converter needed to be replaced, …. because they are old, show signs of wear, or have play in them, this list is about $4,000 worth of work. But you have to remember, the whole vehicle is 20 years old, and it only cost $2,250 to begin with, just about everything could be replaced, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced.
When the snow melts in a couple of days, when I drive this vehicle home from work, I am going to park it on a pristine, white concrete driveway and leave it running, and video underneath it while it is parked and running, then turn it off and come back later to video underneath it again, to show that it doesn’t leak a drop of anything.
If this dealership service department is going to make up repairs that don’t need to be done, how can I trust them in the future? Would they go so far as to break things on my vehicle to cause repairs to be needed?
Here is a short video showing underneath this vehicle when it is running. I recorded this several times with the vehicle running, not running, and coming back later after it was running, it looked the same as this each time, no leaks anywhere:
Here is a second short video that I recorded earlier in the day, each video just shows the same thing, no leaks at all: