Tag Archives: car repair in Dickinson North Dakota

More About Why And How Car Dealerships Might Try To Steal From People In Dickinson, North Dakota

In my previous blog post, I wrote about how Dan Porter Motors’ service department in Dickinson, North Dakota tried to steal money from me by wanting to perform repairs on my vehicle that didn’t need to be done.

I was very angry and upset about what happened.  I had taken two other vehicles that I own to this dealership service department about six times over the past five years, and they never tried to do this to me before.

When I went to Dan Porter Motors on Tuesday, I did see many new people, and the service department seemed very different.  To be honest, before any work was done on my vehicle, I got the impression that this dealership service department had been downgraded.  I got the impression that there must have been a mass firing, a mass quitting, or many employees leaving Dickinson.

When the oil change was completed on my vehicle, the service-writer showed to me what the mechanic said needed to be done to my vehicle:  engine oil pan gasket was leaking oil, engine crank shaft seal was leaking oil, engine oil pressure sensor was leaking oil, transmission pan gasket was leaking transmission fluid, repairs needed totaling $1,137.

The problem was, that I check this vehicle frequently when it is running, and where it is parked in the same spot every day, it doesn’t leak anything, not one drop.  Why would Dan Porter Motors’ service department try to get me to have work performed, that does not need to be done?

I have read and heard from people who work in the automotive industry, that although car dealerships used to make most of their profit from car sales, now they make most of their profit from their service department.  I have also read and heard from the automotive industry, that dealership owners and general managers hold meetings where they tell everyone in the service department:  “When a customer brings a vehicle in for service, this is a good time to find additional work that could be performed.” and “We want to make money, and you want to make money, so you better find work that could be performed so you can keep your job.”

In Dickinson during the oil boom from 2007-2014, the local car dealership service departments were so busy that it was hard to get an appointment sooner than six weeks away.  The local car dealership service departments were so busy with a backlog of repair and maintenance work, that they didn’t need to go looking for additional work to perform.

This is probably why I never experienced a car dealership service department in Dickinson wanting to perform repairs that didn’t need to be done, they had more than enough repair and maintenance work already.

It’s possible that the mechanic who worked on my vehicle this past Tuesday, that he personally may have been over eager to try to make more money, and he wrote-up repairs that didn’t need to be done.  I think that it is more likely that the mechanic wasn’t acting alone, I think that the service-writer was in on this, and that both the mechanic and the service-writer were being pressured by this dealership to find work.

Beyond my belief that I can never trust Dan Porter Motors’ service department again to advise on repairs that actually need to be done soon, I wonder how far they were willing to go to find work?  Was the mechanic about ready to loosen the bolts on my engine oil pan and my transmission fluid pan, to be able to say, “Look at these leaks”?  Was the mechanic about ready to take a screw driver to puncture the engine crank shaft seal on my vehicle?  Did he do these things already to my vehicle?

Going forward, I don’t know exactly how to handle this.  I think that it is not safe to take my vehicle to Dan Porter Motors’ service department again.  But what if it was just a rogue mechanic, who did this on his own, and not part of the business plan of this dealership?  Complaining to the management of this dealership service department, may make it even more unsafe to ever let their mechanics work on my vehicle again.

Is this going to become something that all of the dealership service departments in Dickinson begin doing because business has slowed down?

It looks like my two best options are to take my vehicle to a different car manufacturer dealership service department in Dickinson, or drive to the actual manufacturer dealership service department in Bismarck 100 miles away to get work done.

Here is a short video showing underneath this vehicle while it is running.  I recorded this several times, with the vehicle running, not running, and coming back later after the vehicle had been running, and it all looks the same as this, no leaks at all:

Here is a second short video that I recorded earlier in the day, each video just shows the same thing, no leaks at all:

Very Angry At Car Dealership Service Department In Dickinson, North Dakota

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:

“Leaks Everywhere”

  • 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:

The Tragedy Of Dave’s Auto Repair In Dickinson, North Dakota

I am a big believer in taking Fords to the Ford Dealer, Dodges to the Dodge Dealer, and Toyotas to the Toyota Dealer.  The mechanics in each of these dealerships have worked on hundreds of F150s, Ram 1500s, and Toyota trucks.  These mechanics have done the repair that you need on your particular model vehicle, dozens of times.  They know the easy way to do it, without damaging anything else, and the additional parts that can’t help being damaged that will have to be replaced too.

I also like the fact that service departments which are part of a car dealership have so much assets, that if a repair is ever done incorrectly which requires it to be redone or results in damage to your vehicle, they can afford to redo the repair or compensate you for the damage done to your vehicle.  They practically have to handle an incorrect repair in the most customer friendly way in order to maintain a good overall reputation.

I estimate that in the past six years in Dickinson, North Dakota, I have spent $2,000 at the Ford Dealer, $1,500 at the Dodge Dealer, and $1,200 at the Toyota Dealer getting vehicle repairs done.  The work was done well or just O.K., but it was expensive.

My Ford F150 for instance, the heater core had a hole in it, and the entire dashboard needed to be removed in order to replace the heater core.  A repair garage in Idaho, and the Ford Dealer in Dickinson both read to me the man-hour estimate for removing and reinstalling the entire dashboard, and it was something like eight hours.  Because of the large number of hours, and the high hourly shop rate at the Ford Dealer in Dickinson, this repair cost me about $1,200.

My Dodge 1500 for instance, the headlight switch quit working.  The Dodge Dealer mechanic said that he had done this light switch repair many times, and that it wasn’t just a matter of replacing this switch, the wiring harness plug for this switch was notorious for melting, and he was able to show me on my truck that this wiring harness plug had in fact melted.  In order to splice on a new wiring plug onto the wiring harness, it required the dashboard to be removed and reinstalled, and this repair cost me $500 due to the amount of man-hours and the high hourly shop rate at the Dodge Dealer in Dickinson.

At the Toyota Dealer Service Department in Dickinson, not only did I look at their nice looking women employees in their service department, and their nice looking customer women who were waiting for their vehicles to be repaired or serviced, I wrote about it.  I may not be very welcome in the Toyota Dealership Service Department in Dickinson, so for this reason, and for the reason of the car dealership service departments being so expensive, I needed to find a good, less expensive, independent mechanic in Dickinson.

In the past several years in Dickinson, a few local people had recommended Dave’s Auto Repair to me.  This repair garage is located behind Runnings, in the same building as the car wash, which has the large sign that reads “Four Seasons Auto”.  I had stopped at this garage once before when they had a Lexus for sale.  It was an inexpensive Lexus, but the paint on the hood, roof, and trunk had its clear coat worn away, and the paint was beginning to oxidize, and at the time I needed a nicer looking vehicle with no oxidized paint.

About a year ago, the engine oil pressure gauge quit working most of the time on my Dodge 1500 truck.  This didn’t bother me too much, because there was still a low oil pressure warning light that was separate from the oil pressure gauge.  Three months ago, 35 miles into my drive on the way to work, the low oil pressure warning light came on in my Dodge 1500 truck.  I pulled off the side of the road, added one quart of engine oil, started the truck, and the low oil pressure warning light did not come back on for the rest of the drive to work.

In the following days, the low oil pressure warning light on my Dodge 1500 truck came on, and stayed on.  Me, and two of my co-workers doubted that there was no oil pressure in this truck, my two co-workers said that it was most likely a bad oil pressure sensor sending unit.  One of my co-workers who I had worked with for almost a year, who was very practical, level headed, and cheap, recommended Dave’s Auto Repair in Dickinson very highly.  He said that he had been taking all of his vehicles, even his new vehicles to Dave’s Auto Repair for the past fifteen years.

My co-worker explained to me that Dave, the owner, did the work, along with his two sons.  He said that Dave was very honest, and very reasonable on the cost of car repairs.  In a few days I went and met Dave to make an appointment to have my Dodge 1500 engine oil pressure tested, and then replace the oil pressure sensor sending unit if it was faulty.

When the work was done on my Dodge 1500 truck in approximately August of 2018, Dave’s son did the repair, and I talked to him a little bit when I came to pick up my truck and pay for the repair which cost about $150.  I had met Dave’s son a couple of years ago when I went there to see about the Lexus which they had for sale.  This repair to my Dodge truck was fine, it didn’t cost that much, and I liked Dave and his son.  I planned on getting a lot more work done at Dave’s Auto Repair, especially getting the front drive shaft CV joints and seals replaced on this Dodge 1500 truck.

In September, I believe it was, I was getting my hair cut in a barber shop, when a young man came in and said to the barber that he had to get his van off of the garage property by the end of the day, because they were having an auction at the garage the following day.  The barber asked this young man if he was buying his father’s tools, and this young man said something like he would have bought them prior to the auction or he didn’t want to bid on them at the auction, because he wanted the auction to bring as much money as possible.

I thought about what this young man and the barber were talking about, it seemed like this young man’s family’s repair garage or service company was unexpectedly going out of business, which was very sad, because this young man was employed at this business.  He might have expected to own and operate this business one day, or be employed there for the rest of his life, but that wasn’t going to happen now.

After he left, I asked the barber what was going on, and he said that Dave’s Auto Repair was closing, and that they were auctioning off all of their tools and equipment.  I misunderstood what the barber said, because I thought that there was no way that the repair garage that I had just gone to was going out of business.  I said, you are not talking about Dave’s Auto Repair behind Runnings, at the car wash?  And the barber replied, that yes he was.

I couldn’t believe this, what were Dave and his two sons going to do now?  Hadn’t he been in business at that location for something like twenty years?  I telephoned my co-worker who had recommended this garage, who had been taking all of his vehicles there for fifteen years.  My co-worker said that he and a bunch of people that he knew asked Dave what was going on.  My co-worker heard from his friends, that the owner of the building where Dave had his garage, had told Dave that he was going to triple his rent.  Dave supposedly said to the owner of this building, that there was no way that he could make enough money to stay in business if he tripled his rent, so that he would have to close his business.

I was very sorry to hear this, and my co-worker said that he and his friends were all going to go over to the owner of this building where he lived and drag him out of his house, but Dave would not tell them where he lived.  This is very, very typical and well known in Dickinson, that the greed of the property owners is so great, that they expect successful business owners to hand over most of their money to them, so that as business owners they would be left with about $10 per hour to pay themselves.

Now Dickinson no longer has one of the most honest and reasonable independent repair garages in town.  Dave no longer has the satisfaction and freedom of being self employed, running his own business, and providing a good place to work for his two sons.  His two sons no longer have the pride, security, and future of working in a successful family run business.  All because of the evil greed of the property owners in Dickinson.