Tag Archives: good mechanic in Dickinson North Dakota

The Independent Mechanic That I Can No Longer Use In Dickinson, North Dakota

In November of 2019, I wrote a blog post article about no longer being able to take my Toyotas to the Toyota dealership service department in Dickinson, North Dakota.  I had taken two different Toyotas to this Toyota dealership service department over the past six years, on at least six different occasions, and they had never tried to rip me off before.

In November of 2019, when I took a Toyota 4-Runner to this dealership for an oil change, they wrote up a service estimate for leaking transmission pan, leaking oil pan, leaking main crankshaft seal, and leaking oil pressure sensor, totaling about $1,200 of work.  The problem is, that this Toyota 4-Runner doesn’t leak anything.  I check this Toyota where it is parked every day, and I look underneath it when it is running, and it doesn’t leak a drop of anything.

At that point, I realized that I could never take any of my vehicles to this Toyota dealership service department again, because I could no longer trust them, after they made recommendations for repairs that did not need to be done.

If you don’t think that this is a common problem at car dealership service departments, telling their customers about “leaks” that need to be repaired, here are two videos for you to watch from Scotty Kilmer of Houston, who is a third generation mechanic, who has been making a living working on cars for the past 52 years:

After this bad experience at a car dealership service department in Dickinson, that I could no longer trust, in December of 2019 I found what I thought was a good, inexpensive, independent mechanic in Dickinson.

At this independent mechanic on the north side of Dickinson, I took a Jeep there twice, and twice the owner made an extra effort and put in extra work to deal with repairs that turned out to have complications.  I took a Toyota there once for an oil change.  I took a Dodge there for an ignition switch replacement.

The Dodge ignition switch replacement cost about the same as what a dealership would charge, $183, but I felt that the owner had helped me twice in the past working on my Jeep, so I owed him.

My $400 Federal Income Tax refund, and my $1,200 coronavirus economic stimulus check that I would receive, I wanted to spend this money on vehicle repairs that I had been putting off.  About a month ago, this independent mechanic service writer began preparing an estimate to replace the front axle half-shaft and seal on the passenger side of my 1/2 ton pickup truck.  All the service writer needed was for me to bring this pickup truck in so that they could see what front axle it had, to order the correct half-shaft.

This pickup truck had been stolen in 2017.  While the thief had it, he replaced both of the front axle half-shafts with used ones from a junk yard, and when he did this, he damaged the passenger side front axle seal, to where it was leaking very bad.

I explained all of this to the service writer, and I asked him, is there any way to replace this passenger side front axle seal, without taking off the wheel, brake caliper, wheel bearing, and half-shaft.  He said no.  So I said then replace the front passenger half-shaft and seal, because everything will be taken apart at that point.

When I brought my 1/2 ton pickup truck in for this independent mechanic to look at the front axle in order to be able to buy the correct half-shaft, the owner of this garage came out to look at it.  The owner of the garage told me, that the front differential needed to be taken apart in order to replace the passenger side front axle seal, so could I replace both seals, and both half-shafts at the same time, because everything would be taken apart.  I said yes.

All along, I feared that there would be no way to replace just the passenger side front axle seal, without taking the half-shaft out and taking the front axle differential apart.  With everything taken apart to this extent, now would be the time to not only replace the passenger side seal, to not only replace the passenger side half-shaft, but to do both sides.

This was looking like it was going to be a $900 repair at this independent mechanic in Dickinson.  Whereas three years ago a car dealership service department in Dickinson had quoted me $750 for this whole job, and a car dealership service department in Montana had quoted me $550.  It was the car dealership service department in Montana that told me, “We don’t waste time trying to break down the half-shafts in order to replace the universal joints, due to labor costs, it’s cheaper just to buy whole new half-shafts.”

So I went back to this independent mechanic today, for the third time related to getting an estimate for this front axle half-shaft and seal replacement.  I went through the whole story again with the service writer about the truck being stolen, junk yard half-shafts being installed, the front axle passenger seal being damaged, the owner of the garage wanting to do both sides because the front axle differential would be taken apart.

The service writer said O.K., I have the estimate here, it looks like it will be just under $900, it’s a seven hour job, it’s like $770 in labor.  I said, wait a minute, what about the cost of the new half-shafts?  The service writer said, “You want the half-shafts replaced?”

God Damn It!  God Fucking Damn It! This is the third time coming here, and the third time explaining this entirely, about the truck being stolen, the used junk yard half-shafts being installed, and that there is no point in taking everything apart just to replace the seals, and not replacing the half-shafts.

In other words, I would be looking at paying $900 to get everything taken apart just to replace the two front axle seals.  Then, 10K-20K miles down the road, when the used junk yard half-shaft universal joints go bad, I would have to pay this $900 all over again a second time to get everything taken completely apart again, plus the cost of the new half-shafts.

Why is this repair going to cost $900 at this independent mechanic, without even including the cost of two new half-shafts?  This front axle work on an old American 1/2 ton pickup truck is not a $1,200 job.

That’s it. No more.  Because of going over, and over, and over this repair to replace the seals and half-shafts at the same time, and the service writer saying, “What, you wanted us to replace the half-shafts?”, and because the price quote was getting much higher than what a dealership service department would charge, I will never take another vehicle to this independent mechanic again.

A couple of hours later, when I took this pickup truck to the dealership service department, the service department manager gave me a quote for $290 to replace just the passenger side front axle seal, because there is an axle access port to reach it, everything does not need to be taken apart.  But this turned into another mess, which I will write about later.

I Found A Good, Inexpensive, Independent Mechanic In Dickinson, North Dakota

A little over a month ago I wrote a blog post article expressing my shock and disappointment with Dan Porter Motors in Dickinson, North Dakota.  In the past, I had taken two Toyotas multiple times to Dan Porter Motors to have work done, and the work was always performed competently, though it was at car dealership service department higher prices.

In November I took a new to me, Toyota that I had purchased back in August, to Dan Porter Motors for an oil change.  Before I had bought this Toyota, during the test drive, and many, many times after I bought it, I looked under this Toyota to see if it was leaking anything.  It never, ever leaked one drop of engine oil, engine coolant, or transmission fluid.  But after the oil change at Dan Porter Motors, they told me it had an oil leak at the pressure sensor, an oil leak at the crank shaft seal, an oil leak at the oil pan, and a transmission fluid leak at the transmission pan, about $1,200 worth of repairs were needed.

I knew then that I could never, ever take a vehicle to Dan Porter Motors again, because not only could I no longer trust them to make recommendations on repairs that needed to be done, I wondered if they would stab my engine crank shaft seal or undo my engine oil pan bolts in order to cause repairs to be necessary.

I don’t know exactly why this happened.  Are car dealers in Dickinson so slow now after the oil boom is over, that the service department managers, service writers, and mechanics have been told to “find work” or they will be out of a job?

I have lived in Dickinson for about seven years now, and the only good independent mechanic that I had ever heard of, was Dave at Dave’s Auto Repair located behind Runnings Farm & Fleet.  I was able to take a Dodge truck to Dave’s Auto Repair one time before he closed his garage about a year ago.  I was told by Dave’s customers that the owner of the building where Dave’s Auto Repair was located, he had tried to double the rent, and Dave could not stay in business paying twice as much rent.

Doing a lot of checking during the months of September and October of this year, I was able to find one independent mechanic that appeared to have a good reputation, Joe’s Auto Repair located in the industrial park just east of Walmart.

In early December I met the owner of Joe’s Auto Repair, Joe, and I got an estimate for replacing the front and rear brake pads without turning the rotors, on a Jeep, it was $300.  This was much cheaper than what car dealerships and franchise repair shops charge in Dickinson.

During the changing of the brake pads on this Jeep at Joe’s Auto Repair, it was discovered that one of the brake caliper mount bolts had broken off, and that this broken bolt shaft had unsuccessfully been attempted to be removed in the past.  Joe had to cut this bolt, drill it out, and re-thread the hole.  The final price for this brake job, even with the extra work, it was still $300.

A week later, I scheduled this Jeep to have one of the electric windows repaired, using a used window regulator that came with this Jeep from the previous owner.  When the mechanic at Joe’s Auto Repair was installing the used window regulator, he noticed that it was missing one of the rollers that fit inside of the slide rail.  Joe took the used window regulator with him to various places like parts stores and salvage yards to try to get a roller that was the right size, and he ended up coming back to the shop and making a roller.  The window repair, with all the extra time and work, final price was $125.

A few days later I brought this Jeep back to Joe’s Auto Repair for an oil change.  For each of these three visits, each time I waited at the shop while the work was being done.  For me, and for each of the customers who came in while I was waiting, the service writer looked up the parts, looked up the time for each job, and he gave a price estimate for both the parts and the labor.  Myself and everyone else who came in, we were very happy with the price estimates that we were given, there were no complaints, and the work was scheduled.

Another thing that I noticed while I was waiting, insurance companies, oil companies, and construction companies were having vehicles dropped off to have repairs performed.  Chevy, Dodge, Ford, and Toyota owners were taking their vehicles here, rather than the dealerships.