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Which is better to service a 1994 Ford F150, dealer or independent shop?

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1987 - 1996 F150 & Larger F-Series Trucks 1987 - 1996 Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and larger pickups - including the 1997 heavy-duty F250/F350+ trucks

Which is better to service a 1994 Ford F150, dealer or independent shop?

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  #1  
Old 09-12-2018, 11:35 AM
1994F150Calif
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Which is better to service a 1994 Ford F150, dealer or independent shop?

Hello all,

My 1994 F150 truck needs service, so I contacted a Ford dealer nearby and they told me the next available date would be October 9th, but checking the service date calendar on their website, the next available date is on September 18th, that's 3 weeks before they tell me!

I think their message is clear: we don't want you, old vehicle owner, as a customer. Wouldn't you interpret their response that way yourself?

So, my question is, should I look for a good independent shop and not waste time with dealers? Are independent shops better at servicing old vehicles?

I would love to hear your opinion.

Thank you for reading this!
 
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2018, 12:31 PM
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Dealers are usually backed up, don't take it personally. So much friggin warranty BS clogging the lines nowadays that's about 70% of our workload. If you want timeliness, go independent. You want a better end result, go dealer.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:55 PM
1994F150Calif
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Good advice. Thank you, Da Lariat Chariot. What threw me off was what the online calendar says and what the service representative told me. Two entirely different things.

EDIT: I just heard from the service representative. She told me that the online scheduling calendar is just for oil changes, not diagnostic service. So, I am going to have to wait almost a month for my diagnostic appointment.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:29 PM
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Getting an older vehicle serviced at the dealer pretty much sets you up for a visit to the sales department. Not that there are issues with the techs, they usually are gearheads themselves and can appreciate an older vehicle and they certainly have access to better info than the average independant shop, but the incentive is not there to work on anything more than a few years old.

Independant shops can be a crapshoot. If you find one you can trust, do your utmost to keep that good relationship going. A bad experience will quickly turn into a nightmare.

How about learning something about your older vehicle and start doing your own service? Most times, owning an older vehicle tends to be a labour of love and we all love to tinker with our favorite old truck. Sometimes, an older vehicle is in service due to economic necessity and doing your own work can save you a pile of cash. Just research the subject before you jump in with assumptions, or bad advice, (which usually comes free).

Enough free advice from me!
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:06 PM
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If your truck is in average condition and you plan to pay to have a shop fix all the problems that are going to come up, you probably might as well buy a new truck from a cost effectiveness perspective. If you gots cash to burn and really like your truck, then hey you do you.

Dealer or independent shop? In either case what matters is that the shop has someone honest and competent to work on your vehicle. My experience has been that it can be difficult to find a shop that consistently meets those criteria for my trucks. So, for the most part I do all work myself. This saves me cash but on occasion burns a lot of time. If you find a good shop, dealer or not, do what you can to build a relationship and they will be more likely to go the extra mile.

I usually find myself at a dealer for work that I cannot complete myself but I want done right and backed by a warranty. I do not find myself at the dealer very often. A warranty from a stand alone independent shop is usually pretty worthless unless you can bring them the vehicle. In theory the Ford dealer network is better on that front. Also in theory a Ford shop should be able to diagnose and provide a quality repair for the trucks discussed in this forum, but my experience suggests that many of them aren't really interested in the work. Not that I blame them. I am sure most of the time customers with 20+ year old vehicles come in pay for a diagnosis, balk at the estimated repair cost and leave, and everyone involved has a bad taste in their mouth afterward.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 03:31 PM
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Don't go to the stealership, whatever you do. Your truck is probably older than the mechanic working there. You're best off finding a recommended smaller shop, or even better yet, get on youtube and fix it yourself.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 04:59 PM
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I already made the appointment at the dealership, which of course I can cancel later, but there is an independent mechanic near my home with excellent reputation, and he doesn't even have a website, which I think it's a good sign.

I will pay a visit to the guy in the next few days.

By the way, that word "stealership" made me laugh aloud, and the comment, "Getting an older vehicle serviced at the dealer pretty much sets you up for a visit to the sales department", it's what makes that experience kind of scary. I remember many years ago a service representative (yes, a service sales rep) at a Ford dealership was very happy with me and said to me, "you are such a good client", man, it really made me depressed, because I knew what she unconsciously meant.

Regarding learning to do the repairs myself, it's definitely good considering, I have felt tempted to start, but I don't know whether I would be up to the task, since at least for the time being I have some pending repairs around my home that also require learning. The only think I have done so far is exchanging the PCM/ECU, a few weeks ago, and that's it. Oh, and I have a greasy second-hand copy of the Haynes Repair Manual for my model, but of course that doesn't count as doing anything! LOL.

Thank you, guys, it really helps reading different opinions.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by johnnyfoodstamp View Post
stealership
I don't steal from people. I do good, honest work and get paid for it. It's kinda irritating seeing this attitude about dealers and their service departments. I feel bad for you because you've probably had a bad experience at a dealership which is why you hold this opinion about them.
 
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Old 09-12-2018, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Da_Lariat_Chariot View Post
If you want timeliness, go independent. You want a better end result, go dealer.
And why is it that dealer service produces a better end result? Shouldn't the end result be that the truck is repaired properly no matter who has serviced it?

I work for an independent shop that's literally 1/2 mile down the road from 2 dealerships (one GM, the other Ford & Chrysler) and we get new customers all the time that come in complaining about the cost or the service they received from one or the other. By no means do we try to undercut bids just for the sake of gaining work - we look at what the dealership told them was wrong and offer them our opinion on the situation.

I think often times the reason they end up choosing our shop is because it's a small shop and they feel more comfortable with us, whereas at the dealerships they're often dealing with service writers/advisors who, although they may not treat them rudely, do not necessarily treat them courteously either (and often times they aren't familiar with automotive systems and just relay information back and forth between the techs and customers, so when the customer has a question they're unable to answer it).

If you want to know which shop you can trust, ask questions. Even if you think you know the answer - ask questions anyway. If they take the time to patiently and clearly explain the answers, then you can trust they're not trying to rip you off. If they rush the answers and they don't seem interested in building trust with you, move on.

I think R&R nailed it -

Originally Posted by R&RFord View Post
Dealer or independent shop? In either case what matters is that the shop has someone honest and competent to work on your vehicle.
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Da_Lariat_Chariot View Post
I don't steal from people. I do good, honest work and get paid for it. It's kinda irritating seeing this attitude about dealers and their service departments. I feel bad for you because you've probably had a bad experience at a dealership which is why you hold this opinion about them.
haha Triggered!!!! So you're like the one mechanic who's not a crook. Good for you! As for me, I've been wrenching on the same F150 for the past 10 years. I enjoy it. So no, I've never been ripped off by a stealership. But don't be willfully ignorant and pretend like it doesn't happen. Also, lighten up dude.
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:50 AM
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The techs are not crooks, it's just that dealership shops are, in general, not what they once were. They don't pay like they used to - my stepson is a Kia tech, and he makes about the same per flat rate hour as I made in the 80s. So the dealers do not get the quality techs they used to and most have a hard time attracting anyone who can diagnose a problem. These young guys, again talking in general, if the computer doesn't tell them what to check, they have no clue.

Around where I live (Austin) there are a few independents who specialize in older vehicles. They employ old guys like me who can work on a car that doesn't have much if any electronics. Guys who know what "dwell" is. You might look for one of those.
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by jas88 View Post
The techs are not crooks, it's just that dealership shops are, in general, not what they once were. They don't pay like they used to - my stepson is a Kia tech, and he makes about the same per flat rate hour as I made in the 80s. So the dealers do not get the quality techs they used to and most have a hard time attracting anyone who can diagnose a problem. These young guys, again talking in general, if the computer doesn't tell them what to check, they have no clue.
True it's not the tech it's management. All that to say when I had a company car their requirement was OEM maintenance for everything. So I took it to the dealer. It was their dime and their car. I generally had a great experience. Yes their rate was a little higher than an independent shop.
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by 1994F150Calif View Post
Hello all,

My 1994 F150 truck needs service, so I contacted a Ford dealer nearby and they told me the next available date would be October 9th, but checking the service date calendar on their website, the next available date is on September 18th, that's 3 weeks before they tell me!

I think their message is clear: we don't want you, old vehicle owner, as a customer. Wouldn't you interpret their response that way yourself?

So, my question is, should I look for a good independent shop and not waste time with dealers? Are independent shops better at servicing old vehicles?

I would love to hear your opinion.

Thank you for reading this!
Since you want an opinion, here is mine. Why not tell us what your issue is with the truck and someone will help you determine what it is. Then if it is over your head go to a mechanic. If you think you can do it then give it a shot. If you find out what it is and you go independent or local dealer, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Sandy
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 03:07 PM
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My general gathering of info has led me to this.

Dealership techs are one of two types. Older guys who have seen it all, and are fairly honest. Then theres the young guys who have never been under the hood of anything older than a 2005. They don't like getting greasy from the old trucks that have 20 years of leaks and crud buildup. Mechanic shops are always full of gearheads and they generally work on older vehicle's than dealers, so they have more experience.

You need to find a shop you trust, that knows your vehicle. Go to the shop and look around. If they won't let you, walk away. Look for organization, general cleanliness (for a shop at least), and happy employees.

Always ask for a list of all charges and parts added.

Dealers get a bad rap because their parts are expensive (but top quality), and most people who go there don't understand how one failed part can become five new parts. Plus dealership rhymes with stealership... probably the only reason that name even stuck.

Of course none of this is meant to be targeted at either, because both kinds can be crooked.
 
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Old 09-13-2018, 08:24 PM
1994F150Calif
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This is what happened. Oh, first, this is a 1994 Pickup F150, short bed, manual transmission, with only 62,900 miles on the odometer currently. Just one owner, me.

Almost 3 years ago, I took my truck to a Firestone shop because the Check Engine light was lit (STEADY, not blinking). Everything seemed to be working properly and the engine was running smoothly.

After the diagnosis ($100), first, they replaced: 1) the EGR Control Valve, 2) the EGR Control Solenoid and 3) the Vapor Canister Valve. After those new parts were installed, the Check Engine light remained on STEADY. Then they said that the Powertrain Control Module was bad, so they replaced it, after which the Check Engine light went OFF.

The problem is that now my truck’s engine doesn’t run smoothly anymore. It runs rough. You feel the shaking.

Also, when switching from first to second gear, it feels like I need to do it in a hurry, like the RPMs go up very fast, after just a few yards, and it's kind of bumpy, I don't know how else to say it..

Finally, now there is a chirping sound that comes from the engine, from the area behind the radio CD player and climate controls at the center of the dashboard, which is more noticeable when going uphill accelerating.

That mechanic truly screwed up my engine, of which I was so proud. It was a pleasure to drive my truck. I am very angry, even at myself, and feel like the outcome would have been different if I had taken my truck to a Ford dealer shop.
 
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