Is Dealership Repair Service Bad for the Brand?


I’m in love with my 2006 Honda Pilot!  Several years ago, due to an unexpected happenstance with my 2002 Honda Element, I had no other choice but to invest in another mode of transportation.  I was looking for a “Used” car, however, I decided instead to buy a “Pre-Owned Vehicle”.   After perusing my options at the local Honda dealer I chose the ugly duckling of the group.  A sort of Army green Pilot with 125,000 miles on it.  It was in good shape and in my price range. Without hesitation, I signed on the dotted line.

Olive has been good to me.  She runs like a champ.  After her first oil change, the mechanic proclaimed, “This is my new favorite car. Clean as a whistle, no muss, no fuss, no leaks no drips…”  I’m thinking he must say that to all of his customers.  Regardless, I walked away with my chest out and my head held high. This was  proof positive I’d made the right decision.

It’s been 4 years and that bucket of bolts has been exactly what you’d expect from a Honda.  Other than a battery and an alternator I have not spent a nickel on repairs.

After a flawless 1800 mile turnaround trip to Kentucky recently,  I left the back window down.  The next morning, in the pouring rain, the window refused to go back up. There was no way this malfunction could have happened with the window in the up position.  In any event, it would have to be fixed.  Every car owner knows, unless you’re still under warranty, you NEVER go to the dealer for repairs.  While I’ve always considered the dealer a last resort, I’ve never fully understood how much of a rip-off it can be.

Not known for my handyman prowess, I solicited the advice of a friend and he explained to me how to remove the door panel and get to the regulator (essentially the device that raises and lowers the window).  I was proud of myself for getting the door panel off, however, what needed to be done next seemed far beyond my area of expertise.

Luckily, this time of year in Texas, it’s not bad having a window down while driving, unless it’s raining.  This past Friday, I pulled out of my garage to dark skies. It appeared a predicted downpour was inevitable.  Then it hit me.  Maybe, if I stop by the dealership, they can manually get the window back into the up position.  I decided it was worth a drive by.

Surprisingly, the Express Service Lane was open.  The attendant greeted me and after checking the window he informed me that the regulator would need to be replaced.  I asked if we could manually get the window into the up position.  He gave me that “What are stupid?” look and said that was not an option but he’d get me a price to fix the window.

He disappeared inside and I braced myself for the announcement upon his return.   He said without an ounce of empathy – parts and labor $525.00.  While the 7 words you can’t say on TV ran through my head, I calmly responded, “That’s ridiculous!”  What pissed me off more was how he tried to justify it.  He explained that it’s more difficult than it appears.  It will take 2 and a half hours to remove the regulator and replace it with a new one.  I gave him a disgusted look and pulled off shaking my head in a cloud of disbelief.

Now the kicker.  I get to my office and share the news with my trusted friend.  The one who showed me how to remove the door panel.  We quickly went to and found the regulator for forty-five bucks.  Then to YouTube for a detailed 6-minute video on how to replace a window regulator in a 2006 Honda Pilot!  Will it be a headache doing the work myself?  Probably.  Will it be worth the $475 I’m saving?  I’ll let you know.

I must say I’m a little disenchanted with Honda after this experience.  Part of me says they are no different than any other car dealership.  Then again there’s another part of me that  says maybe I should switch loyalties and find out!




About Culturedude

President of The Jeff and Bryce Fan Club, head cheerleader for my wife, Susan, lucky devoted brother of Beth and Barbara, perennial pal of the Bunko Squad, passionate customer service advocate, forever loyal fan of the Yankees, Packers, Buckeyes and Wildcats. favorite pastimes: writing, public speaking, golf, cartooning, reading, playing and blogging!
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