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Discussion Starter #1
In late January 2014, I was driving home from the office in my low mile 06 Ram 1500. Less than 1 block from the office, the young driver of a Crown Victoria ran a left turn red light, head lights off @ dusk.

@ 35MPH with nothing but a tap on the brakes, the resulting T-Bone - square between the front and rear passenger doors - sent him spinning across the intersection. The Dodge and Ford were total losses. My insurance company was awesome, paying for a rental car while a check was mailed to cover the cost of the truck. I looked around for purchase options but was under pressure to find a new-to-me ride because my second car was being used by a family member. Upon assessing how and why I drive a truck, the RL seemed to be the perfect choice. In my case, the purchase was more-or-less an impulse buy because I bought the first one I checked out & drove. Encinitas Ford here in San Diego county had taken my soon-to-be ride in trade and given it the car dealer once over, putting most of their focus on detailing With 85,000 at the time, she drove smooth, had a clear Car Fax and was in excellent cosmetic shape. It passed the best eyeball inspection and seat of the pants evaluation I could give her. Since then, she's proven herself to be a very satisfying purchase. After 40 years of vehicle ownership, mostly domestic, I'd say Honda is the biggest pleasant surprise in my ownership experience.

With the unknown service history that comes with so many used car purchases, late last year I decided to take her in for service to a "trusted" local repair shop - the owner hosts a weekend car talk radio program and comes off as a reasonable man with great advise to callers with auto issues, hence the "trust". Turned out to be a big mistake from a few different angles.

As an avid do-it-yourselfer with and a back ground in automotive stuff, it kills me to pay someone for service I either have no time for - or don't have special equipment for. In the case of the RL, I didn't know a whole lot and had no time. So, at approximately 96,000 miles, I took her in for some basic service. They offered an estimate of recommended service - that I approved. This happened before becoming well informed via the information and experience you all post on this forum. Lesson learned, that chit ain't never happening again. Here's a summary of the part pricing they gouged me with:

- Honda O.E.M. spark plug part # NGK IZFR5K11 suggested retail $19.32 ea. I was charged $23.49 ea.
- Honda O.E.M. oil pan part # 11200-RDJ-A00 suggested retail is $122.82. I was charged $257.44 (the threads spun out upon plug removal for the oil change - they claimed)
- Honda VTF-4 oil suggested retail is $30.18. I was charged $47.44
- Honda O.E.M. axle half assembly (L or R) part # 44305-SJC-A01 suggested retail price is $208.33. I have no idea where the axle they installed was sourced, but the price they charged was exactly Honda's retail price. It was suggested by the shop guy replacing the axle was preferred over hassling with a replacement boot that had torn as a result of "normal wear". The shop also claims to use "OEM parts only" so I assume the axle is OEM, BUT: looking over the invoice today, I noticed the "trans service" contained "Valvoline full synth trans fluid". CRAP! That's what was in there until for the last 13K miles until I started D & F this last weekend with Honda DW-1.

I was charged $350 above OEM retail for parts, in my book, thats the definition of gouging. Factoring in discounts available on OEM parts from dealers such as H and A - from whom I've happily made several purchases since learning of their existence - I was @$$ raped by this shyster.

Upon discovering how bad the numbers were, I contacted the shop owner with my objections - who promptly explained his pricing "strategy" was to provide a lower overall cost compared to dealer services while employing only ASE Master Technicians.

Making it clear that I:
- whenever possible, support small local business with my hard earned $
- expected nothing from him other than to hear my complaints
- begrudge no business the right to make profit on the parts & services they provide BUT
- object strongly to being charged grotesquely greater than OEM retail for parts

He continued to justify his service strategy and expressed regret I would not be returning for future service. I suspect his strategy gouges his Tech's too but that's just an opinion. Every day, I drive by this place on the way to work and see the bays full. It's difficult to resist the urge to pull in and yell at prospective customers how they are about to be RIPPED OFF.

After the fact, I looked up this business and discovered similar complaints on Yelp to which he consistently claimed he deeply regretted the unhappiness of consumers in his store. His words ring hollow after my encounter. On the upside of things, the work they did holds up today. Specifically, the new oil pan is leak proof - but I have an idea that's more related to Honda design than it is to the actual installation.

A guy my age, with some experience in the real world should have known better than to blindly accept the appearance of an honest business. I'm pissed at myself for being "taken to the cleaners" like a novice, a rank amateur, a little ol' lady from Pasadena. My personal "exit only" still aches - if you get my meaning. :act027: OUCH.

With A14 maintenance looming and the wounds fresh from this lousy experience, I shopped around for a quality shop. Good Yelp reviews convinced it was worth my time to pay a visit to a shop close by home. Meeting the owner, I explained I was interviewing perspective service shops with the goal of establishing a long term relationship. He invited me to speak to his technicians, gave me a tour of his clean/well organized 10 bay shop, its fixtures, hardware and tools. Turns out the techs he employs joined when he first opened 15 years ago and have stayed because of the owner and the relationship and trust he's built with customers - this directly from the Techs themselves. I liked what I saw and heard, not to mention there was a lovely red/black NSX in one of the bays at the time so, I took the leap to complete A14 service, which I chose not to tackle because I'm not willing to "OJT" this kind of work. I know I can functionally do the job but I opt to let someone - who has done it countless times before - use their experience to execute this level of work. And I accept that it will cost way more than DIY.

Total cost of A14 service - which comprised all OEM coolant, cam seals, tensioner, acc belt, timing belt, water pump and the surprise of rear brake pads & brake fluid exchange - came to just over a grand, which I consider fair but only because of the info you all have provided on this forum. That happened May this year.

As mentioned in another thread, the time came for front brakes. Normally, I'd invest a weekend afternoon to do this job myself - and take advantage of having access to the wheel house for general inspection, clean up and detail - but the driver front wheel bearing needed to be replaced too. Not having the tool or a proper sized press to out/in new bearings - combined with removal of calipers rotors to access the knuckle where the bearings live, I talked to my new friends at the shop to get a quote. Harry presented it, only this time I was armed with knowledge gained from this forum. I mentioned that OEM and brake parts were available at a lower price than his quote, he resolutely stated: "If you can get the parts cheaper elsewhere, I have no problem installing them for you". How refreshing!

Ordered up rotors and pads from H and A, which were delivered to my door a few days later. Although I wasn't able to locate bearing(s) on line that were OEM, I took the brake parts to the crew at my new shop of choice and had the RL back that afternoon. Parts totaled $455, labor $384. Other than bearings @ $235 from the shop, I think it was a fair deal.

Two tanks of fuel later, the RL returns to the shop to address a noisy, new front bearing. I expect no problem with resolving that issue, but that remains to be seen. Harry has the opportunity to make this right and I'm sure he will. BTW: one of the things this shop provides is rental cars from the Enterprise shop 1/2 block down the street. Very nice touch, even though the cost of that is buried in the invoice.

I hope this story helps someone who took the time to read it. These are my take-aways from this string of events:

Avid DIY guys have their limits. Sometimes its better to let the pro's take on work that involves tricks and equipment we don't have in our garages.

Knowing who you are dealing with is critical. Much like a job interview, a shop is your temporary employee. As such, they need to EARN your business. And it's a two way street. They deserve to know who they are dealing with too. Being an informed consumer is ammo to hold off the wallet gouging shysters we all know they are out there in far too many numbers.

Asking a few questions and having good information can alter the course of a service experience. As they say: "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid".

I'll never, EVER pay anyone anywhere to change any fluid on the RL. It's too damned easy and too rewarding to DIY that kind of thing. Save $, have fun and reward yourself with a cold one for a job well done. It don't git no better dan dat.

Armed with the great info provided here, I've checked spark plug torque, changed all fluids, learned the critical nature of using OEM fluids. PLUS, I've turned a corner about my attitude towards after market parts. Case in point: whenever parts are required, every vehicle I've owned to this point has been treated to "performance parts" sourced in from the after market. Drilled and slotted rotors, ceramic pads, Monster exhaust pipes, "high flow" oil infused filters and "fuel injection performance air plumbing" were the standards for me. For the first time in my experience, the Honda way has proven to be the best long term investment to make. And it's your experience and this forum that's responsible for that change in my approach to such things. With one exception and thanks again toi the info on this forum: next time brakes need service, think I'll source larger/bolt on Honda/Acura calipers/pads just for the fun of it.

There is no way I could repay you guys for what you've done to enhance personal knowledge about our trucks. I'm looking forward to being a member of the 300K club and I owe you a debt of gratitude for providing the confidence that will actually happen.

Long live the ROC.
 

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Thanks for sharing your valuable experiences. Those are some great lessons to be learned by others.
By the way, a spun oil drain plug on a Honda is not unusual. That's why many of us went with a Fumoto plug. Especially valuable for the DIYer, like yourself.
 

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Thanks for sharing. Spun drain plugs on toyota's are usual as well. Unfortunately we get customers that have never came to us before to do a oil change on there old cars and we do the change and they come back a few days later with a drip and blame us for stripping out the plug. So we either cover it all or go halves with the customer since we were the last to touch it.




O and p.s. about the prices....All dealers are essentially franchises. So whatever dealer the shop owner called could have had a higher list price then honda's MSRP. Remember that is "SUGGESTED" price. So then he passed that list price onto you.
 

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2006 Ridgeline RTS in Steel Blue
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Thanks for Sharing, lots of good info for new owners, and good advice for those considering DIY'ng.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
YAH, the explanation at the time of oil pan replacement made perfect sense. And I wasn't willing to consider the use of an "oversized plug" considering the possibility of injecting aluminum shreds into the pan.

Follow up research confirmed the issue with aluminum pans, threads/ETC and I discovered the a source that welds grade 8 nuts to the inside of an OEM pan which holds the possibility of a permanent fix but requires the vehicle owner to send in his pan for the "fix". I couldn't afford the down time, so....

I've seen the Fumoto valve but can't get past the idea of a low hanging object being another potential issue. Not sure what others have experienced with this but I'm open to anything that resolves the problem.

Currently, my solution is a pump. I've used them on other vehicles with great results but lost my last pump during a vehicle break in. In my 74 GMC motor coach, I have an ON-BOARD "pre-oiler" that also functions as a pump. AWESOME solution for a vehicle that spends more time parked than on the road.

Whatever I do, the plug won't be removed very many more times before getting to a long term solution. Is there consensus on the Fumoto with the RL? I've read info here but didn't see absolute confirmation of success. I'm very curious!

The delta between suggested retail and such is understood and in the world of part distribution, resale licenses, part sourcing from local dealers to lower inventory costs at small shops, ETC are reasonable. But charging greater than retail from NAPA for stuff like spark plugs and fluids is crazy - at least on the surface. Every business needs to make a profit but the reason dealers - whether NAPA or dealerships franchises have wholesale pricing is to supply shops that otherwise cannot afford to floor a large selection of parts. It's incumbent on the shop to do the best they can on behalf of their customer. Paying more than double the retail cost of an oil pan (for example) is ridiculous, IMO.

STUV, your approach is most generous. I wish there were more like you in the service business! You are located in San Diego. Where abouts?
 

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YAH, the explanation at the time of oil pan replacement made perfect sense. And I wasn't willing to consider the use of an "oversized plug" considering the possibility of injecting aluminum shreds into the pan.

Follow up research confirmed the issue with aluminum pans, threads/ETC and I discovered the a source that welds grade 8 nuts to the inside of an OEM pan which holds the possibility of a permanent fix but requires the vehicle owner to send in his pan for the "fix". I couldn't afford the down time, so....

I've seen the Fumoto valve but can't get past the idea of a low hanging object being another potential issue. Not sure what others have experienced with this but I'm open to anything that resolves the problem.

Currently, my solution is a pump. I've used them on other vehicles with great results but lost my last pump during a vehicle break in. In my 74 GMC motor coach, I have an ON-BOARD "pre-oiler" that also functions as a pump. AWESOME solution for a vehicle that spends more time parked than on the road.

Whatever I do, the plug won't be removed very many more times before getting to a long term solution. Is there consensus on the Fumoto with the RL? I've read info here but didn't see absolute confirmation of success. I'm very curious!

The delta between suggested retail and such is understood and in the world of part distribution, resale licenses, part sourcing from local dealers to lower inventory costs at small shops, ETC are reasonable. But charging greater than retail from NAPA for stuff like spark plugs and fluids is crazy - at least on the surface. Every business needs to make a profit but the reason dealers - whether NAPA or dealerships franchises have wholesale pricing is to supply shops that otherwise cannot afford to floor a large selection of parts. It's incumbent on the shop to do the best they can on behalf of their customer. Paying more than double the retail cost of an oil pan (for example) is ridiculous, IMO.

STUV, your approach is most generous. I wish there were more like you in the service business! You are located in San Diego. Where abouts?


The fumoto valve does not hang down. It goes straight back.

Yea def confused on the oil pan price. I know napa on most stuff marks stuff up to mark stuff down when it comes to wholesale. pisses me off when I quote a price if someone wants something aftermarket and I quote them the inflated retail from napa and they go...um I can get it way cheaper at napa. . I have walked in and grabbed something off the shelf and with my discount it was .30 less then the shelf price. Her explanation is that we get a discount off MSRP. But whatever it happens

Live in ramona work in esco. Pm me if ya ever need something since your local.
 

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2008 Ridgeline RTS in Billet Silver Metallic
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I had concerns about the Fumoto Valve too but have had no trouble with the Fumoto at all.

RL:


Pilot:


I have the lock tab pointing upwards on the RL. The pilot has the ball assembly pointing down, but it's still above other components nearby.

 

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Oh Six, I installed a Fumoto a couple of years ago and have been pleased with it.

I find that it makes draining oil more convenient and much less messy. It also removes the danger of stripping the threads.

I really don't think there is a danger of it hanging too low. without going to look again I seem to recall that other nearby structures are just as low or lower.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
AH! The power of evidence vs. imagination. A Fumoto valve will be ordered today as there is an oil change right around the corner.

Thanks again fellow ROC'ers!
 

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