Monday, 23 May 2011

Its not just private people who dont trust Garages

The trouble is that cars these days are too complicated you need to be a rocket scientist to diagnose and fix problems and usually the fault is electrical and controlled by an ECU which costs a fortune and has to be replaced with a new one, then you have to have the equipment to tell the cars master ECU (its brain) that you have fitted the new part before the newly fitted part will even start working.

As an example I had an Audi TT DSG (Tiptronic) Convertible with a £1000 start (profit margin) in it, the car was just out of warranty when it started bumping every time I selected a gear, no fault codes were stored on the ECU and the people I deal with hadn’t got a clue what was wrong with it, it needed a specialist so I rang the service department at an Audi Dealer he assured me that they were unaware of any known faults on the DSG automatic gearbox.

I resorted to Google and typed in Audi DSG Gearbox problems, I didn’t read all the 20 pages that came up but it did leave me wondering how Audi were unaware that they had a problem I can only assume that they don’t have an internet connection. The Audi dealer first suggested that the oil in the gearbox needed changing and the gearbox ECU needed a software update, I questioned why I had to pay for a software update, and that if the software needed updating then it had been supplied new with an inherent problem, I also told him that I had looked on the internet and there would seem to be a common problem with the DSG ECU’s the Service Manager was adamant that his recommendations would cure the problem, I had reservations but I left the car with them anyway.

Having got the call from Audi and been promised that it was now fixed I jumped into my car £224.00 poorer, selected first gear and received a mild case of whiplash but no refund of the money I had just wasted, next thing Audi suggested was a new gearbox ECU at a cost of £1800.00 this would mean that if I sold the car for my full asking price I would now lose £1024.00, still I couldn’t and wouldn’t sell the car to a customer with this fault so I had to take my medicine.

The part was ordered and I returned the car a couple of weeks later, however they did have some good news for me after I had pointed out that the car was just out of warranty and had a full service history, the part wasn’t subject to wear and tear and shouldn’t have failed so I asked the Dealer to submit an Abnormal Warranty Claim request for a contribution from Audi towards the cost of the job and they had agreed to limit my costs to £1000.00 thanks for that Audi!

The job was supposed to be completed within the 3 days, but after a week I hadn’t heard anything so I rang to ask where my car was, i was told it was in their compound waiting to be repaired, thats strange i said, because guess where i’m am? I’m standing outside your compound and i cant see it, they told me that the part had arrived from Audi and had been fitted but the new part was faulty so they had to wait for a new ECU to arrive from Germany, and my car was parked in an offsite compound, the guy sounded a bit flustered and I have to say that I didn’t believe him as there was loads of room on the compound and i couldnt see why they would move it off site, another 3 weeks passed and I eventually got the call to say that the car was ready to be collected, this was when my problems began, after settling the bill I was shown to my car, it’s a good job they showed me to it because I wouldnt have recognised it.

When I dropped the car off it had just been valeted and I had filled the tank up on the way, I know from my own personal experience that there’s nothing more annoying than having to take a customer’s car for a test drive only to be confronted by a glowing low fuel light, the car in front of me was filthy, not just in a been worked on by an oily oik mechanic sort of way, but a ‘been absolutely thrashed’ sort of way, the alloys were covered in brake dust, the car was covered in mud sprayed up the sides, the interior was filthy, both drivers and passenger side foot well’s had dirty footprints on the mats, there were sweet wrappers in the door pockets, the car looked like some homeless guy had been living in it.

I’m not one to make a fuss and I was glad of Audi’s generous contribution to the repair so I bit my tongue and started the car, No clunk as I selected Drive, but to my surprise the fuel light was on, as I moved the car forward I became aware of a problem at the rear, and when I examined the rear tyre it was as flat as a pancake, first job was to inflate it with my electric pump then off to the fuel station, but my car just didn’t feel the same.

I then drove to the garage who do all my repairs and reconditioning to get the puncture sorted, after removing the wheel the mechanic proceeded to take the Mickey out of me ‘Bloody Hell Barrie, have you been rallying' he knew i wouldnt have done it because most of the time i drive like an old woman, when I examined the tyres to see what he was talking about, it became obvious that the car had been badly mistreated, the tyres which had been painted with tyre sheen before it had gone in for repair were now showing signs that it had been cornered to beyond its limits of adhesion the tyre tread was badly feathered and the tyre sheen had even been burned off the top edges of the side walls, as I walked round the car I also saw that the car now had a small dent on the passenger door, I immediately rang and asked to speak to the Service Manager, surprise, surprise he was in a meeting, 2 days later he still hadn’t returned my calls he must have been in a very long meeting.

I decided to drive to the garage and confront them face to face, on the way there I was overtaken by an Audi R8 and an Audi TT who were racing each other both the cars had new registration numbers but were obviously not taxed yet as they were being driven on trade plates by mechanics who had no doubt just performed the pre delivery inspections, these were brand new cars awaiting delivery to their proud new owners and they were being thrashed, I had been out of the New Car job for a while now and you dont need to 'Run Cars In' like you used to but I was certain that ragging the backside off a new car was not part of the pre delivery inspection. I was also pretty certain that this is what had happened to my car, the Service Manager however had a completely different explanation, In the interest of fairness I will let you make your own mind up.

Me: My car has got a dent on the passenger door

Service Manager: our parking spaces are too narrow probably someone has opened their door into yours (very plausible)

Me: My car looks like a tramps been living in it
Servicer Manager: 2 mechanics have to take it out for a 20 mile drive so that the new ECU adapts itself to the gearbox. (plausible, but 2 mechanics I would question)

Me: Do they have to eat their dinner in it too?

Service Manager: Sorry ( he didn’t look sorry)

Me: they have to drive it for 20 miles, well that explains where 1 gallon went but what happened to my full tank of fuel?

Service Manager: Sometimes it takes more than 20 miles (plausible but a stretch of my imagination as they had used 300 miles of fuel)

Me: How do you explain that the tyres look like they have been used on a race track?
Service Manager: ( starting to sweat, eyes moving up and to his right, almost disappearing into his skull body language indicating a massive lie was about to be invented, and sure enough in my opinion here it was) ah well the route we use has a roundabout at each end and you have to keep the car speed above 30mph so thats how the edges of the tyres got worn. (not in the slightest bit plausible, only a complete idiot would do this)

Me: Are you sure you arent thinking of that film 'Speed' starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves?, if youre not and you cant drop below 30 mph I guess I should just be thankful that there wasn’t a queue of traffic at the roundabout otherwise the front of my car would be smashed in too!

Me: Oh I don’t know whether I mentioned it but I’ve been in the Motor Trade for the last 30 years, and I don’t believe a word you’ve said

Service manager: Erm I’m very, very sorry (plausible but he could have been sorry that I’d been in the motor trade for 30 years)

Me: note to self:

1) make note of mileage and fit car with GPS device before leaving my car with a firm (no matter how big) with someone i dont know.

2) Invent Twitter and use it to complain like crazy about this garages service department.

At this point I think a customer who hadn’t spent all his life in the Motor trade would go ballistic but I decided to put it down to experience and go to KFC for a chicken sandwich instead!




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