@nolnocluap's What Upsets Me About Series - #1: Modern Car "Servicing"

in #cars3 years ago

Perhaps I'm getting older, or perhaps standards are dropping. Let's say that both statements are true. Regardless, there are many things about modern life that just get me worked up, so I thought I'd start writing about it, at very least so that others know that they're not alone. So here we go...

What Upsets Me About Modern Car Servicing

Modern car servicing is a scam, pure and simple. There's very little in terms of profit margins on the sale of new cars; what selling cars does not is commit you to a brand, and all the pleasures of service obligations and high parts prices that you yield to under threat of having your warranty (also a scam, but that's off topic) revoked.

I'm covered in filth after pulling these brake pads out of our car this morning. Arrows mark the amount of wear remaining on the old pad versus a new one. More on that below...

We recently drew a line in the sand with our BMW. After being quoted $1,100 for a very minor service - literally an oil change and an air filter change, we sold the car and left the brand. BMW actually told me that if I tried to save money on servicing by opting not to replace the filter (and this is an air-conditioner filter, not an engine induction filter) then my warranty would be void. Not what you want to entertain for an expensive vehicle under new car warranty.

Our other car, a small run-about Holden, we've kept and as it too is under new car warranty, we've kept up the log book servicing and have paid to do so in order to maintain the warranty. I used to maintain and perform mechanical repairs and upgrades on my vehicles but as the cars I've owned became newer, I've had the ability to do my own mechanical work robbed from me by this system of warranty entrapment.

What's more, people seem to rate logbook servicing highly when establishing resale value. This makes no sense to me. I looked through a vehicle service log book a few weeks back and the technician had written the date in the kilometers field and visa versa. Is that the attention to detail that you want applied to automotive mechanical work?

I've also had cars back from service and pulled the dipstick only to find discoloured used oil still in the engine. You're paying for the log book stamp only, not for the work.

Over the past few weeks, our little run-about Holden has been making some nasty metallic grinding noises from the passenger front wheel. Applying the brakes would sometimes reduce the sound and sometimes made it worse. It didn't sound like wheel bearings which sound softer and make a more constant noise when they need repacking.

The last service the car underwent was not that long ago. We took it back to that servicing outlet complaining of the noise. They said they don't know what's causing it but mentioned that "by the way your brake pads are desperately low, you'll be lucky to get 1000km out of them". Now the "next service due in" sticker that they last added to the windshield still has 4000km outstanding.

Another comparison of an old pad versus the new one that I put in this morning. All the "professional" servicing this car has had failed to identify the need to replace these.

Why did they not identify this issue at the last inspection? Those pads would be the original that came with the car from new. Part of paying to delegate out mechanical maintenance is the identification such issues and the scheduling to have the work performed.

When I did all the work on my previous cars I'd keep a spreadsheet of all the work I'd do, the date and the km. This allowed me to predict when representative jobs like brake and tyre replacement would be required. I feel poorer and less safe now that our vehicles are being worked on by so called professionals.

We were quoted $235 to replace the front pads. I'd had enough. I purchased the pads in a good quality brand yesterday and early this morning had the car up on stands to do the job myself. I had wanted to inspect the front left anyway to look for possible causes for this noise and just thought that I'd do the pads while there.

Sure enough, when I took the old pads out, I believe I found the cause of the noise. The inner pad on the passenger front had worn unevenly and given how low they were, the metal clip on the outside of the pad showed evidence of coming into contact with the disk. The sound would have been caused by the metal clip contacting the metal disc.

Notice the groove and signs of wear on the inner side of the metal clip.

To me this is complete negligence. How could this have been permitted to happen? Should everyone be expected to simply bring a vehicle when symptoms of issues become evident? Maintenance is about the prevention of issues!

The pictures I've uploaded illustrate the situation. I've highlighted the thickness of the new pads versus the ones that came out and have also indicated the gouged channel in the clip caused by contact with the disc. The groove aligns perfectly with the arc of the disc and, sure enough, when I reassembled the calipers and bedded in the pads, the front end was a quite as a church mouse.

I'll be taking on my own maintenance again. I'm not going to be subjected to the inconvenience and cost of having work inadequately performed or not performed at all only to maintain a warranty that is usually declined on various technicalities anyway when push comes to shove. These pads cost me $90 (and that was for the premium brand). It was a quick job so I made quite a saving.

I wonder whether this story resonates with anyone else out there in the steemosphere. Thanks for reading!

Another angle of the wear on the metal pad clip caused by the brake rotor. The line indicates approximate angle of contact which is tangential to the movement of the disc at that point.


Modern car servicing is a scam, pure and simple.

I was saying this 30 years ago! And things haven't improved any in the ensuing years. When I have work done on my old Jeep, I insist on being there and watching what they do. If I were younger and more agile, I would take on the repairs myself. It is not rocket science. One of the last places I went for a filter change, they put a hole in the new filter with a screwdriver, thinking I wouldn't notice!

Ah so it's not just me? That screwdriver trick I've heard of happening before. Not tight enough? Just puncture it to get more leverage! Goodness.

I'm actually looking forward to taking up the maintenance and repair of the older vehicle we've "downgraded" to. There's a loss of the sense of accomplishment when delegating work out that one can do oneself.

Sure if there's something that I require special tools or skills for, I can get that performed elsewhere on a case by case basis but for everything else...

I was on a buzz for days after fixing the squealing issue. You can't buy the high of having more control over your own environment.

Thanks for the comment!

That extended clip is a wear limit indicator. Desinged to alert you by the noise that the pads are at minimum and need changing. I have always done my own services on my cars as well as engine mods etc. Stuff the stealers i mean dealers haha:)

I can certainly see the sense in that feature @j85063. Having never let pads wear that far before I'd actually never heard what they sound like. Certainly I'd not want to have to rely on them.

I love your stealers term. I may just borrow that one in the future. Thanks!

I agree don't rely on the clip sound feature. Sure you can borrow the stealers term:)

Many times I have seen the wear indicator just on one pad. If the sliding pins don't function correctly you may have uneven pad wear which could result with the metal pad backing coming into contact with your rotor and ruining it. It is always good practice to keep an eye on the pad wear once or 2x/year.
Happy motoring;D

Hi @john89. I completely agree. It's quite common to have asymmetrical wear for any number of reasons and relying on the wearinator (I thought I'd throw in a trendy term to give this reply some sparkle) is a fall back at best.

What I did learn is that delegating out maintenance can't be relied upon so sadly these checks will still need to be conducted by me I suppose. Happy motoring to you too!

Very true and i check mine about once a month or so.

Yikes, sounds like a much better option to do it yourself if you know how to do it D: I'm okay with my current centre as they aren't terribly expensive (unless there is actually a lot of expensive work to be done) and the work is actually good, but will have to drop them if I move too much further out (I already hate driving to them as is).

One of my partner's grumbles about "cars these days" is how they're getting really hard to self service not because of the stupid warranties but because of the increase in t he amount of moving parts. Do something wrong and you kill the electrics and everything dies a slow horrible painful noisy death. Suppose it's not too bad if you're an electrical as well as a mechanical engineer XD


Hi @ryivhnn. Having a local workshop that you trust can be a great advantage. If the work is of a good quality and the price is fair then that's wonderful but I guess like any relationship, that trust has to be earned and not assumed.

The maintainability of modern cars is an issue. Even with the appropriate training, it can still be the case that without the proprietary costly diagnostic equipment, you can still be left in the dark.

Happy motoring!

Yeah, that squealer(thats what we call it) touching the rotor should have been the first thing checked when it was in for the noise.

Do you go to the dealership? In Canada you are allowed to have your car serviced at an independent repair shop and still keep factory waranty. Usually we can save hundreds per visit on new car "maintance and inspections.

Hi there @edthecanadian. Originally we went to the dealer as there was a fixed price deal. Since that expired, we've been getting the maintenance done by an alternative mechanical chain. The setup here sounds the same as you describe in Canada. I reckon they should have been all over that "squealer". Thanks!

I was under the impression that you could service yourself a car which is under warranty. Just keep the receipts.
If you do however work on your cars (and everyone does it for different reasons) you could get a used car in good shape and save a bunch.
Sometimes working on newer cars does require you buying some specialty tools, but in my experience you often recover the cost on the first repair.
Happy motoring and thanks for sharing;D

Hi @johnd89. Unfortunately the warranty requires "log book servicing" to be performed by "authorised" providers. What classifies them as authorised seems a little subjective to me.

Your suggestion about getting an older car to maintain myself is actually something we've just done this week. So far we're very happy with it and even with the increased costs associated with an aged vehicle (although that may not hold true any more), I'm hoping the overall experience will be an improvement. Thanks!

Wishing you all the best with your car;D

If youre willing to do your own maintenance why dont you jutst buy an older car and update the engine and stuff so whatever you buy for it has a warranty if you like those... I do anytime i need a slave and master i got that lifetime warranty and the engine i sourced can be had for lunch money (la1 3400 v6) from almost any gm fwd car between 96-05 or new for nothing compared to doing an lsx or hemi .... Not comparable but respectable 180hp and over 200tq with great gas milage

Hi @moophatcow. That's a really cool user name! Actually we've just done exactly that. We've downgraded our bigger car (this one is our little run-around) to an older car which I plan to maintain myself. It shouldn't need engine swap outs, although I have heavily modified previous vehicles I've owned for the fun of it, cam, heads, valves, exhaust, intake, MAF, computer etc. Thanks for the suggestions!

That's crazy. Good thing you caught it in time and didn't have your brakes go out. That would have been scary. That's cool you're handy enough to be able to replace your own brakes pads.

Hi @themanwithnoname. It certainly is handy to have a basic skill set. It's something I've picked up over time and would like to keep current. It certainly is fortunate that I found it in time. I'm not one of these people who tends to ignore signs of components failing or about to fail.

Thanks for the comment!

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