The idea of the car recall rip off is not new to the automotive
industry. For decades some isolated car dealerships would
use the safety recall to pull in a customer
and try to up sell some service repairs. There's nothing wrong with recommending auto repairs to a customer that comes into your service department.
The problem is when the repairs are misrepresented as an emergency that must be addressed immediately. Case in point my 2009 Cadillac SRX was recalled for a software update to the ECM. Even though I am a certified master technician with 26 years of experience it is necessary for me to visit the dealership to have car recalls performed. As I sat in the waiting area with other people having this recall done I noticed a trend.
The service adviser would approach the customers waiting in the lounge sipping coffee and present them with a long list of repairs that should be performed while the car was in the service bay. The dealership offered a no charge rental so the customer would not have to hang around all day. This offer only applied if they agreed to and signed off on all of the recommended auto repairs.
I call this a car recall rip off because the people I spoke with came in thanks to a factory notification stating their vehicle needed service.
The recall notice makes it clear that this would be done at no charge. The next thing you know the nice older lady who rolled in driving a Cadillac is rolling out in a rental Cavalier and heading to the bank to get $900 so she can get her Cadillac back at the end of the day.
As I sat there waiting for my turn I was thinking of what could be on my list of recommended auto repairs. After all my vehicle is only a couple years old with 20,000 miles. But I was prepared for the worst with what I had seen already. The dealership I was sitting in views a recalled vehicle as an opportunity.
The list of recommended auto repairs for my 2009 Cadillac was impressive. I needed a throttle body service, which has become one of the most over recommended services (my opinion). I couldn't even find guidelines in my manual for it. When I think it needs to be done (about every 50k) I use a Diy throttle body service kit. This is a three part kit that includes a DVD that explains how to do a TBI service.
The adviser also stated I needed a cabin air filter and a complete climate control service. I have never heard of that service before, I guess I'm getting old? The service writer said the package price included the cabin pollen filter and removing the mold from the air duct system for 175 bucks.
He also stated I needed an air filter that I replaced myself about a week before and a fuel filter. In the dealership's defense I did not notify them that I was a mechanic. My opinion, I did not need any of the repairs that were recommended so I respectfully declined.
This next paragraph is an e-mail from a site visitor that experienced the same type of recall rip off that I did in the above story. I thought that I would include it so that you could see what is possible when you bring your vehicle in for a recall at a dealership.
Of course your experiences may vary and not all dealerships are bad places to go. It is very important that you get these recalls done no matter how painful it may be. Dear Sir: We took our Corolla in for a recalled ECM (Electronic Control Module). The old ecms cracked and stranded owners anywhere at any time as stated by the notice sent from Toyota.
On the day of the service appointment I think the first sign that there was going to be trouble was only one other car was in a very large service area. I was concerned that these two vehicles would wind up paying the salaries of the entire staff on hand. I waited an hour and received statement showing recommended repairs.
Change cabin filter, that we just changed a month before, an oil seal leak, but not covered by drive train warranty. And a third leak that didn't even makes sense. We passed on all the recommendations and just got the important recall work done.
The Check engine light came on the next day while driving and the engine was shaking the whole car at idle. We took it back in again and they wanted $600 to fix it. They said a gas cap code was set in memory, Plus still recommending the oil seal leak repairs.
left in a huff. Reseated the gas cap disconnected battery for a few
minutes. The new ECM installed the day before under the car recall rip
off settled down and the check engine light is out. My personal trusted
mechanic says it is bone dry underneath and has no idea what they were
talking about with the seal leaks.
I added a section where site visitors can post personal stories about car repairs. Feel free to talk about both the good or bad things that happened to your car. This next link tells you how to post pictures of the automobile and add your own car recall rip off story. Give this car recall rip off page a bookmark or share with a friend that is taking their vehicle into a dealership to have factory recalls performed.
I wrote a book way back in 2006 that discusses how the retail service business works and things I felt automotive consumers should be aware of. This e-book is available for free but keep in mind this is just my jaded opinion about the auto repair business.
The homepage is up next and provides a simplified run down of what other
kinds of information is covered on the website. You can also find out
how to ask car questions.
Search the auto-facts.org website and the Internet at the same time.