Is my VW service guy ripping me off?
October 11, 2005 2:57 PM   Subscribe

How much should a 20,000 mile dealer service cost for a 2003 VW Passat? $470? Am I getting ripped off? Should I fight?

I feel like I'm getting ripped off. I dropped my car off today for 20k scheduled service. The service guy seemed to make up a price on the spot: $470. I should have pushed back right there, but it was super early in the morning and I wasn't really thinking. After I left, I felt like I had been suckered.

I haven't picked up the car yet, and haven't paid. Should I argue with them about the price when I go to pick it up? $470 seems really steep.

Of course, I've already signed and initialed the $470 estimate, so my "legal" grounds are nil. But I would just tell them that I think the price is unfair and I won't use them again unless they adjust it. If they insist on the price, I would pay and just not ever go back.
posted by Mid to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
If you want to find out if the price is out of line, call other dealers and ask their prices for the same service.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:11 PM on October 11, 2005

These guys have it listed for $199.95.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:13 PM on October 11, 2005

We have a '99 Passat and every time we took it to the stdealer it cost at least $500. Didn't matter what we brought it in for: oil change? Oops, CV boots gone. $500. Broken mirror control? $500. Brake pads? New rotors all around. $500. Engine check light? Oh, that's only $100. But a week later, something else mysteriously broke. $800.
So...$470 seems like a lot for a service, but that's VW. I take mine to an independent mechanic I trust, now, and have gotten out of the $500 cycle.
I think most car dealers have "book" rates for most service jobs: the factory specifies how long a job should take, and they just bill you their hourly rate for it. If they can finish the job faster, they make money, and if they are slow, it's (supposed to be) their loss.
posted by spacewrench at 3:14 PM on October 11, 2005

Hmn. It depends.

A quick google price check turned up prices between $238 and $500 for that service. $470 seems on the high side. I'd be interested in seeing what they did; 20k miles is an 'interval service', which is the middle ground. ('Interval Inspection Service' is at 40k)

They might be doing the 'full reccomended service', which includes things like replacing your wiper blades. That kind of service is probably jacking up the price quite a bit.
posted by SpecialK at 3:15 PM on October 11, 2005

According to the second year maintenance on a Passat should cost a total of $687 for the entire year. $470 does sound high but ask him what he did for the money.
posted by 517 at 3:19 PM on October 11, 2005

We've got a 2003 Jetta that we have serviced at Boardwalk VW in Redwood City, CA.

I just grabbed the invoice for our 20k service out of the file--it totalled $524.00, which breaks down as $282 for the actual 20,000 mile service maintenance, $180 for a wheel alignment and balance, and then some miscellaneous parts costs. So your numbers sound fine.

Attached to my invoice for this service, I've got the checklist for what takes place during the intermediate services, of which the 20k check is one. It's a lot of stuff, and not much different from the major interval service.
posted by padraigin at 4:02 PM on October 11, 2005

Dang. I meant to add that according to the invoice, the estimate we were given when we dropped the car off was $520--I seem to recall telling them that the car was pulling a little and needed wheel alignment, which is not included in the intermediate service (although tire rotation is), so they included that service in the estimate.
posted by padraigin at 4:05 PM on October 11, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I suppose another relevant fact is that my dealer is a real yuppie-style place in downtown Chicago (i.e., high rent), so I never expected a bargain. But I thought the $470 was so out of line that it was beyond even the high side of reasonable. Sounds like it is high, but not completely out of line for an (expensive) dealer.

I need to find a small repair shop that could do this stuff.
posted by Mid at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2005

Our plan is to continue taking our car to the dealer until the warranty expires, then find a good VW/German shop (of which there are many).

I feel you on the yuppie-style. The SF Bay Peninsula is on the same wavelength.

I sometimes wish we still had the '71 Squareback and our copy of "The Care And Feeding of Your Volkswagen". Sigh.
posted by padraigin at 4:25 PM on October 11, 2005

Note that there is no reason you have to take it to the dealer for routine maintenance for the warranty to still apply. Feel free to get your oil changes, tires, brakes, alignment, battery, belts, timing chain, etc. changed at the corner independent shop. As long as you keep all the documentation, and follow the "recommended service interval" in your manual, the dealer is legally required to honor the warranty when you make a claim.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:02 PM on October 11, 2005

Damn, my 2004 Passat just passed the 20,000 mark. Thing of it is, when I had a 2000 model the 20,000 oil change/service was no big deal. But that was under the old warranty that covered oil changes. I wonder if VW dealers have discovered a new money maker. Now I wonder what's going to happen when I take the thing in. I suppose it's the price one pays for having a German sedan but still $470 for a frigging service check. This isn't a $70,000 car for crying out loud!
posted by Ber at 7:22 PM on October 11, 2005

Response by poster: In case anyone is still reading, here's what I got for $470:

Oil change, all fluids topped, brake fluid flushed and topped (not sure why brakes needed to be flushed).

3 new VW wiper blades.

All new filters, including expensive VW pollen filter.

Lube for all major components and sun roof.

Tires rotated.

Everything inspected.

Loose steering mechanism tightened.

Seems pretty skimpy. Parts were like $130, I don't have the invoice in front of me.

Rip off? I'd say yes.
posted by Mid at 7:45 AM on October 12, 2005

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