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Old 24.11.2017, 10:10
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Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

Recently i bought a new (used) car. It didn't have recent MFK, and the dealer recommended that I take it to the nearby garage to have it checked over to see what it would need for MFK, and then I could make my decision to buy it or not..

Ok, we took it next door to the garage. I got a call the next day saying that the repairs necessary for MFK would cost CHF 1400.- - for new front brakes, a new wiper motor, and an exhaust hanger.

I went to the dealer and talked down the price due to the repair costs. I bought the car. Then I told the dealer that I would not be having the garage do the repairs, I'd do them myself. (funny look on his face, and on the mechanic's face when we picked the car up and explained the same..)

So i ordered the brake parts online, CHF 70.-, and made a mental note to look into the broken wiper motor when I had some free time. The next day, I was driving home in heavy rain and I thought to myself that I may as well try the wiper motor switch - and the motor works just fine! The garage had told me it's be CHF 300.- just for a new motor.

The brake parts came by post and after pulling off the wheels I found that the brake pads were nearly new and that the discs were well within spec.
I changed them anyway so at least I have brand new brakes now, done professionally, new slider pin grease, etc. by myself - instead of the garage just slapping some new pads and calling it good (for CHF 800.-)

I haven't checked the exhaust hanger yet but I imagine it's ok. I don't even want to know what the garage would have charge me for saying they had replaced a piece of rubber.

CHF 1400.- in made up, bogus repair work!

This is the 4th garage I've been to in CH, and 3 of them have tried to rip me off in various ways. I usually play dumb, and don't let on that I have any idea about mechanics (I used to work as a mechanic, and generally do everything on my vehicles myself, but am not about to tear an engine down in the driveway or mount tires, etc... )

It's a shit show. To top it all off, when you buy a used vehicle in CH that has been 'regularly maintained' by a garage, you'll notice if you do things yourself that the actual maintenance is not done. The filters haven't been changed, the plugs are original, the gear oil has never been changed, etc. These small $ services don't add up to a good revenue stream for a garage - much better to just say you've done the maintenance, and then add on a conflated bill for serious repair work,(that wasn't even necessary, and might not even be done at all..but they'll say they did it..)

I can only imagine that most Swiss people/people in Switzerland get bent over the hood of their cars each and every time they take it to a garage. There is no diy culture here, most people not only know nothing about mechanics but don't even know anyone who knows anything - and the garages take full advantage of this fact.

On a positive note, there are some good people out there. For anyone living in the Luzern area I highly recommend this garage:

http://www.liem.ch

They are friendly, honest, professional, etc...No, i don't work for them and am not affiliated with them in any way, other than being a happy occasional client.

Have a great day, all you EF peeps out there.
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Old 24.11.2017, 10:33
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

There are some black sheep. Increasingly so.

Generally you're better to go outside of the city and find a dorfgarage. These guys service the cars in their community, and they are fully aware that their reputation has a direct effect on their bottom line.

Could it be that your parking brake was shot, and that was what the garage noted?

Tabs on the exhaust often develop tears. You can weld them, but if the silencer is nearly toast anyways then most shops will suggest replacing the whole thing.

On the wiper motor: Does it at least squeak, spit OBD codes?

But you're right, 1400 Chuffs of repair should generate some physical evidence in the form of parts which are actually broken.
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Old 24.11.2017, 10:50
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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There are some black sheep. Increasingly so.

Generally you're better to go outside of the city and find a dorfgarage. These guys service the cars in their community, and they are fully aware that their reputation has a direct effect on their bottom line.

Could it be that your parking brake was shot, and that was what the garage noted?

Tabs on the exhaust often develop tears. You can weld them, but if the silencer is nearly toast anyways then most shops will suggest replacing the whole thing.

On the wiper motor: Does it at least squeak, spit OBD codes?

But you're right, 1400 Chuffs of repair should generate some physical evidence in the form of parts which are actually broken.
Agreed on the dorfgarage - but this was a dorfgarage. Right in my town. 100% Swiss owned and staffed.

Parking brake is A-OK.

Really, there is nothing wrong with the car as far as I can tell. I'll take it to the car wash with a lift (there's one in Baar IIRC, if anyone cares. It's good for washing the undercarriage before the MFK inspection...) and check on the exhaust hanger when I get a chance.

Wiper motor starts without hesitation, does not squeak, does not throw any codes.

Re: reputation: I just don't think that there are enough people around to be able to call them out on their BS. It's a risk worth taking. For each guy like me who says 'yeah right, I'm not going to pay that!' there are 100 more who will gladly empty their wallets with a smile and then thank the mechanic for his 'work'.

I could raise a fuss, but with who? I could leave a negative review on the internet with the garage name - but then be open to libel et al charges.

Unfortunately, a garage in CH doesn't have much to lose by defrauding their customers.

Choose your mechanic wisely.
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Old 24.11.2017, 10:59
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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Choose your mechanic wisely.
The problem is that few people nowadays can tell the difference. The dealerships have more or less squeezed out the indies and the small one or two man shops really struggle.
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:22
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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There is no diy culture here, most people not only know nothing about mechanics but don't even know anyone who knows anything - and the garages take full advantage of this fact.
To be a member of the TCS has its advantages....you can, by appointment, bring a used car you want to buy, to them for a thorough check. It takes 90 minutes and it costs (here in Kt. Berne 200.-), considering the thoroughness of this service and neutral assesssment , whether the car is shipshape or better off as scrap metal it is money well invested.

Whilst I can not do big mechanic stuff on my car myself, I pride myself to be as car savvy as possibly can be...can change spark plugs, wheels, and do other minor mechanical and maintenance things myself.

I am driving a Renault now and had to find out, that the local Renault dealership & garage usually asks for excorbitant prices. My car is serviced for many years now, super well and much cheaper at my village's garage. Win/ Win, I get good service at for me affordable prices and support a small, local business too.
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:30
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

Well, I guess he has to pay salaries, too.

I'd view it as non tax-deductible donation ;-)


How old is the car, BTW?

Didn't you get some sort of warranty?
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:41
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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To be a member of the TCS has its advantages....you can, by appointment, bring a used car you want to buy, to them for a thorough check. It takes 90 minutes and it costs (here in Kt. Berne 200.-), considering the thoroughness of this service and neutral assesssment , whether the car is shipshape or better off as scrap metal it is money well invested.

Whilst I can not do big mechanic stuff on my car myself, I pride myself to be as car savvy as possibly can be...can change spark plugs, wheels, and do other minor mechanical and maintenance things myself.

I am driving a Renault now and had to find out, that the local Renault dealership & garage usually asks for excorbitant prices. My car is serviced for many years now, super well and much cheaper at my village's garage. Win/ Win, I get good service at for me affordable prices and support a small, local business too.
+1 for TCS. I'm a member, and here in Luzern it costs around 80.- for a TCS check, IIRC.

In my situation I would have had to wait too long for an appointment , and I needed a car quickly. In addition, I had already gone for a test drive and checked out the car myself as much as possible in a gravel parking lot with no tools, and knew that I wasn't going to be paying a garage to do any work anyway. If the repairs were beyond the scope of what is possible in my driveway, I wouldn't have bought the car. Of course, if i'd have been more patient and had gone to TCS for the check, I'd have saved my time and $ for the brake job. Along with all of the grief and frustration I endured and the canister of propane I needed to use to get a stuck rotor off..
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:45
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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Well, I guess he has to pay salaries, too.

I'd view it as non tax-deductible donation ;-)


How old is the car, BTW?

Didn't you get some sort of warranty?
10 year old car.

Warranty? No. But i paid peanuts for it, about 40% of market value. (pats self on back)
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:53
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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10 year old car.

Warranty? No. But i paid peanuts for it, about 40% of market value. (pats self on back)
That is the upside of a non DIY culture where garage repairs are expensive. There's almost no competiton in the beatersphere.
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Old 24.11.2017, 11:59
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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That is the upside of a non DIY culture where garage repairs are expensive. There's almost no competiton in the beatersphere.


To me it's not even a beater - it's the nicest car i've ever owned*





*well, besides my '41 Mercury but that's hard to compare with a modern Japanese compact car.
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Old 24.11.2017, 12:02
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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To me it's not even a beater - it's the nicest car i've ever owned*





*well, besides my '41 Mercury but that's hard to compare with a modern Japanese compact car.
Entered the era of reclining seats, and stalk operated turnsignals, have we?
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Old 24.11.2017, 12:12
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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Entered the era of reclining seats, and stalk operated turnsignals, have we?
Yeah, seat belts too. And there's talk of some sort of bag full of air in there somewhere.

Sticking the arm out the window to signal never gets old though. One hand on the steering wheel with no power steering...
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Old 24.11.2017, 13:36
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

We had AMAG Biel telling us repairs would cost us 3500,- CHF, instead of going for that we booked an appointment with AMAG, LLorett de Mar , paid 1200,- Euro for all repairs and had a bloody good holiday as well....
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Old 25.11.2017, 10:03
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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It's a shit show.
https://www.facebook.com/SChassis/vi...3725754704388/
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Old 25.11.2017, 11:29
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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Recently i bought a new (used) car. It didn't have recent MFK, and the dealer recommended that I take it to the nearby garage to have it checked over to see what it would need for MFK, and then I could make my decision to buy it or not..

Ok, we took it next door to the garage. I got a call the next day saying that the repairs necessary for MFK would cost CHF 1400.- - for new front brakes, a new wiper motor, and an exhaust hanger.

I went to the dealer and talked down the price due to the repair costs. I bought the car. Then I told the dealer that I would not be having the garage do the repairs, I'd do them myself. (funny look on his face, and on the mechanic's face when we picked the car up and explained the same..)

So i ordered the brake parts online, CHF 70.-, and made a mental note to look into the broken wiper motor when I had some free time. The next day, I was driving home in heavy rain and I thought to myself that I may as well try the wiper motor switch - and the motor works just fine! The garage had told me it's be CHF 300.- just for a new motor.

The brake parts came by post and after pulling off the wheels I found that the brake pads were nearly new and that the discs were well within spec.
I changed them anyway so at least I have brand new brakes now, done professionally, new slider pin grease, etc. by myself - instead of the garage just slapping some new pads and calling it good (for CHF 800.-)

I haven't checked the exhaust hanger yet but I imagine it's ok. I don't even want to know what the garage would have charge me for saying they had replaced a piece of rubber.

CHF 1400.- in made up, bogus repair work!

This is the 4th garage I've been to in CH, and 3 of them have tried to rip me off in various ways. I usually play dumb, and don't let on that I have any idea about mechanics (I used to work as a mechanic, and generally do everything on my vehicles myself, but am not about to tear an engine down in the driveway or mount tires, etc... )

It's a shit show. To top it all off, when you buy a used vehicle in CH that has been 'regularly maintained' by a garage, you'll notice if you do things yourself that the actual maintenance is not done. The filters haven't been changed, the plugs are original, the gear oil has never been changed, etc. These small $ services don't add up to a good revenue stream for a garage - much better to just say you've done the maintenance, and then add on a conflated bill for serious repair work,(that wasn't even necessary, and might not even be done at all..but they'll say they did it..)

I can only imagine that most Swiss people/people in Switzerland get bent over the hood of their cars each and every time they take it to a garage. There is no diy culture here, most people not only know nothing about mechanics but don't even know anyone who knows anything - and the garages take full advantage of this fact.

On a positive note, there are some good people out there. For anyone living in the Luzern area I highly recommend this garage:

http://www.liem.ch

They are friendly, honest, professional, etc...No, i don't work for them and am not affiliated with them in any way, other than being a happy occasional client.

Have a great day, all you EF peeps out there.
It makes me chuckle thinking that I though these numbers are petty decent (for Switzerland).
Our garage charges a fortune over every little scratch and what not, luckily payed by the insurance. I guess we disappoint them each time we refuse their offers for winter tyres for instance and order them from abroad.

Tia. This is Switzerland.
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Old 25.11.2017, 11:50
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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It makes me chuckle thinking that I though these numbers are petty decent (for Switzerland).
Our garage charges a fortune over every little scratch and what not, luckily payed by the insurance. I guess we disappoint them each time we refuse their offers for winter tyres for instance and order them from abroad.

Tia. This is Switzerland.
It-s not just the numbers, they may be fair after all (though personally too expensive for me, id rather avoid garages if possible.) It-s the fact that the owner and lead mechanic lied to me about what was wrong with the car. Sure, this likely happens the world over to some extent and many garages charge over and above for the hours they have actually spent on the car, and people feel like they are being ripped off. This is totally fair, because to give a competitive quote you have to account for the unforeseen - the one out of ten cars that have a broken bolt with a rare machine thread stuck in a hard to reach spot with no clearance. The extra time to do the job has to be paid for by spreading it out on average across all customers, or there would be no way to stay in business.

However, completely lying about parts being broken that are 100% functional is a different story altogether, it-s straight up fraud IMO.
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Old 25.11.2017, 12:38
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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This is totally fair, because to give a competitive quote you have to account for the unseen - the one out of ten cars that have a broken bolt with a rare machine thread stuck in a hard to reach spot with no clearance. The extra time to do the job has to be paid for by spreading it out on average across all customers, or there would be no way to stay in business.
Not really the case. Most jobs there is a book rate - even if you're not doing warranty work that is what most places go off. On top of that most mechs know pretty well what typical jobs (Brakes, alternator, exhaust, timing belt etc.) actually take. Sometimes the book rate is wildly optimistic, even if you do have all the special tools.

The real "Stundenfriedhof" is diagnosis. Customers only like to pay for the parts, and the time spent removing and replacing the parts as they think that mechanics have some sort of mystical power which allows them to glance at a car and listen to it for 5 seconds and know exactly what is wrong. This (the 5 second diagnosis) is sometimes the case, but not always. There are two strategies:

a) pass the diagnosis hours on to the customer, swallowing much of it yourself, else the customer never comes back.

b) If in doubt, replace the whole system. Most ECU problems aren't actually the ECU, but the hours it takes to replace one seem more justifiable than the invoice listing "5 hours cleaning connectors and chasing faulty grounds."
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Old 25.11.2017, 12:53
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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Not really the case. Most jobs there is a book rate - even if you're not doing warranty work that is what most places go off.
That-s exactly what I was referring to. Some jobs take more time, some less. Mechanics who aren't being paid hourly tend to be able to get much more done with their time...
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Old 25.11.2017, 13:00
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That-s exactly what I was referring to. Some jobs take more time, some less. Mechanics who aren't being paid hourly tend to be able to get much more done with their time...
The other thing that may have happened is that they presumed that you weren't going to come back to have the work done with them and deliberately gave a high quote. This is quite common here.

All of the guys I know are straight up, but there are many shops which aren't.
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Old 25.11.2017, 13:32
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Re: Mechanics/Garages in CH laughing to the bank

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The other thing that may have happened is that they presumed that you weren't going to come back to have the work done with them and deliberately gave a high quote. This is quite common here.

All of the guys I know are straight up, but there are many shops which aren't.
I don't think there is any way they could have foreseen that I wouldn't want the work done. The dealer must have known that I had a definite interest in the car, and likely told the mech. The dealer had made a point of telling me that the garage would call me with the info, and not him. But when I went to negotiate the price with him it appeared to me as if he had already spoken with the mech. When we picked up the car and I explained I didn't want the work done, I'd do it myself, (and the uneasy look appeared on the mechanic's face) - he (the mechanic) started to backtrack on his diagnosis of the wiper motor and said something like 'vielleicht ist es nur ein Kabel.'

I didn't think much of it at the time except, 'ok, I'll check the wiring right after I check the fuses..' but in retrospect it seems obvious that the lying mech was trying to cover for his dishonesty before it was found out.

How could he explain away the faulty diagnosis of needing new brakes? A broken rotor micrometer? nah, don't think so.

too much coincidence. The guy is either completely incompetent or he's a crook. Considering the garage has bene there for years, I'd say he's a pretty competent crook.


This isn't the first time I-ve gotten the runaround. A few years ago I went to have 2 tires mounted at a different dorfgarage. They'd shipped from ryfendirect to there, and would have been around chf 35 to mount and balance. My wife had made the appointment with the mech. It was obviously a work vehicle. First question from him when I arrived with the vehicle was 'what does your wife do for work?' and I could see the CHF signs swirling in his hopeful little head. He proceeded to tell me that I needed new shocks, new brakes, and a new cv boot. He wasn't necessarily dishonest, (maybe he hadn't noticed that the cv boot just was missing a clamp) but seemed like he was trying to actually convince me to pay for the labor for him to switch out a cv boot instead of a whole new drive axle. It's 2017, parts are cheap, and to me that stinks of either incompetence or in trying to run up a big tab.

I told him I wasn't interested, but thank you, and tried to pay for the tire mounting. He didn't want the money, he must have told himself that he'd add it on to the much bigger repair bill that'd be coming my way. I nearly had to force it into his hand. Before I'd even arrived home, he'd sneakily called my OH at her work and tried to get her to make an appointment and to agree on the phone to ordering the parts.

I know of another garage where a friend went with a check engine light issue. They fixed the probem all right - by going into the dash and covering over the check engine light completely with some black tape.
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Last edited by pilatus1; 25.11.2017 at 13:53. Reason: sp.
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