Don't trust dealer techs

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by slartidbartfast, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    9,122
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    As the thread title says: Don't trust dealer techs.

    [EDIT: ...not all of them of course,] I know a couple of really good ones but most seem to be marginally competent at best.

    I've posted before about the dealer where I purchased my KTM 1290 SA. Over the firs weeks of ownership, I found numerous assembly errors. Then no less than FOUR different techs rode the bike and came back saying they couldn't reproduce a 40 mph handlebar shake that was moving the bars about three inches either way if you let go - and did it absolutely every time under any conditions.

    Latest is the tech who serviced the Triumph Tiger 1050 I just purchased. The chain was tight as a bowstring, even with the suspension uncompressed. I asked about chain condition while looking at online pics before purchase and the salesman had a tech check it out - so they had two chances to get it right. After riding for a day, I figured out why the rear brake is so bad - the disk is covered in chain lube. I also noted that just about every bike in the shop (new and used) has white sideplates on the chain, due to spraying with lube. This is only on the outside, however - indicating that whoever is lubing the chains doesn't know what's they're doing. My guess it that every single bike in the shop has a lubed rear disk.
    #1
    Milosh, CROSSBOLT and Hi-De-Ho like this.
  2. Andrew

    Andrew Optimus Primer Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2001
    Oddometer:
    20,960
    Location:
    Eastbania
    The problem with stupid blanket statements is that they utterly ignore the exceptions.
    #2
  3. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    9,122
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    Maybe I should re-emphasize that I know a couple of very good techs or change the thread title to "Don't trust some dealer techs". It was not meant to be an all inclusive blanket statement anyway.

    I can provide more anecdotal evidence if you like. My experience with both bike and car repairs over 35 years has included many, many examples of things botched or broken - and I hardly ever use dealers, preferring to do the work myself.

    So I'm not ignoring the exceptions (I said so) but I stand by my original statement and the most recent experience that prompted this thread is yet another piece of evidence in my view.
    #3
    CROSSBOLT, Snowbird and Tall Man like this.
  4. ChopperCharles

    ChopperCharles Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,856
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I've got my share too. Tech forgot the bolt that holds the rear brake caliper to the stay. Caught it before catastrophe, and made that guy drive 30 minutes from Raleigh to Durham to fix it in the parking lot of my workplace. He did it too, that could have killed me. Another tech didn't build pressure in the front brakes after a tire change, and lost control trying to back down a hill. Dumped the bike. Another one put the spacer on the wrong side of the brake caliper and bent my rear rotor when he torqued the axle nut.

    So yeah, no techs touch my bikes anymore.

    Charles.
    #4
    Bar None, double_entendre and Fast1 like this.
  5. ozmoses

    ozmoses .

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    27,142
    Location:
    USA??
    Things changed when mechanics became technicians...
    #5
    DOGSROOT, Jarlaxle, luftkoph and 7 others like this.
  6. Tall Man

    Tall Man Priest, Temple of Syrinx

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,096
    Location:
    The Occident
    A "technician" stripped the transmission drain hole threads when she(!) cross-threaded the bolt during reinsertion. What bothered me most is that she jammed the bolt all the way in, ignoring the obvious resistance of the misaligned threads.

    The dealership paid for a rental car whilst my truck sat at the dealership. They had to order the correct repair tool and thread insert kit to repair the ruined threads on the transmission housing.

    I've since confirmed that the aforementioned individual is no longer employed by the dealership.
    #6
    Steve G. likes this.
  7. redneckK20

    redneckK20 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Oddometer:
    281
    I've worked in shops for a while now and can tell you how rare it is to have a good technician. Some people have a natural ability for it and some don't. A good service manager is worth his weight in gold because of quality control checks and keeping bad work from ever leaving the building.
    #7
    Steve G. and White Knuckle like this.
  8. dwoodward

    dwoodward Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,095
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet, Napa Valley North
    I once took a pickup back to have a previously not-leaking transmission drain pan made to not leak.

    Fourteen times. About half of those, the service writer would hand me the keys, I'd go out, look under the truck, and walk right back in and slap the keys on the counter. Comes down to the tech missing the two front pan bolts, and when it wouldn't come off, persuaded it to with the biggest persuader the shop had... then tried to RTV up the torn out flange. So, thirteen of those visits could have been resolved by someone owning up to being a moran and buying a new pan, which is what they did on the fourteenth (and final) visit to that dealer.

    Also had a tech drain all the boxes, put the drain plugs back in, fill the front diff, transfer case, engine... and go to lunch. The rear diff seized at 65mph on the freeeway. When it stopped turning, all the bearings welded up solid and the nose of the housing was glowing red hot with a little flame coming out where the input shaft was supposed to be. Thank diety-of-choice the driveline didn't puncture the gas tank.

    As for bikes, I had a recall on an early FJR for the cam chain tensioner. Took the tech 6.5 hours to get the old one out and a new one in correctly. Also had one who willfully ignored the Aprilia service manual saying to balance throttle bodies with the air bleed screws ("that won't do anything!") and tried to adjust the linkage instead. Took MONTHS of fiddling to get that bike running right again.

    OTOH, a local H-D / Triumph shop managed to re-flash my T800XC's ECU in one go, even though he'd never touched one before... although I'll note the only one willing to try was the lead.
    #8
  9. racer

    racer Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,104
    Location:
    Indiana
    Let's see, where to begin? The A/C repair guy that replaced a capacitor and didn't hook up a wire correctly, then on recall got it running again, but the fan was running backwards, thus overheating the compressor. The tech that only took a couple hours to replace an oil sending unit on my van, when I knew it was a six hour job. He tried a short cut and broke a piece while doing it and ended up removing the intake manifold anyway. The tech that called a said the oil was low on my Super Tenere. I had just changed it and knew it wasn't but he insisted it was low. When I got the bike back I had to drain out the same amount he put in. For this reason, I'm not letting anyone touch my Africa Twin!
    #9
  10. draco_1967

    draco_1967 Spoon!

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    At least on my bikes, no one but me touches them.

    My first experience was on my brand new NC700X. The right fork seal started leaking after only 1k miles. The shop repaired it under warranty. I got home to find the axle pinch bolt had backed out because they never torqued it.

    The second was getting a safety inspection done at the same shop (they had a coupon for a free inspection, which was required from the DMV). When I left, something felt off. I pulled over and checked the rear wheel and chain. They had way over tightened the chain, like no play in it at all. Why would you adjust the chain (that was already at factory spec anyway...) during a safety inspection?

    No more for me, thanks! I'm perfectly capable of screwing up my own motorcycle for free! :lol3
    #10
  11. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,033
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Full employment. It's good in most ways, but it does occasionally mean that people end up in jobs they'd never be able to keep in a more competitive environment. We're seeing it everywhere from coffee shops to contractors. I think the kids who cut my lawn last year are running a nuclear plant now.
    #11
  12. ozmoses

    ozmoses .

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    27,142
    Location:
    USA??
    :lol3
    #12
  13. Tor

    Tor Imported Norwegian Viking

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,132
    Location:
    Pee Dee of South Carolina
    I'm not going to even start on incompetent, ignorant "technicians". Like others, I never let anyone touch by bikes, including BMW "technicians", unless it is absolutely necessary due to major warranty work. The dealer I currently use is much better than the dealer I used to use though.
    #13
    rubline likes this.
  14. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    14,911
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Good mechanics are like gold - hard to find and expensive. No one wants to pay for the good mechanics so they do something else, like doing high tech industrial maintenance, for better pay.
    #14
    Franque, dtysdalx2, JaySwear and 4 others like this.
  15. rusche

    rusche Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Rathdrum, ID
    I have a socket that allows me to do LS series engine oil pressure senders without intake manifold removal. It can be done in 20 minutes, without damaging anything. And yes that includes replacing the filter below the sensor. (Im assuming here from your post, but sounds like classic LS engine)
    Not all mechanics are hacks. I work in a small shop, with 4 other outstanding technicians, who I would all trust to service anything of mine, and I dont like people touching my stuff.
    Unfortunately that is not the norm. It bums me out a bit the reputation we get as techs.
    #15
    Franque, Hittman, Rickjameswr and 3 others like this.
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    25,257
    Location:
    Western Sierras
    Trust, but verify. :lol3

    I always check their work. Even if they are good, I check the work. It is even more critical on a bike, where mechanical failures can be hazardous to your health.
    #16
    AKstevo and khager like this.
  17. RVDan

    RVDan Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,598
    Location:
    Abbotsford British Columbia Canada
    I tried a non dealership once. Cross threaded the oil drain plug and put the oil filter on so tight I had to destroy it and got oil everywhere trying to remove it.
    So don't trust non dealer technicians, oh but there are some good ones
    #17
  18. Anthiron

    Anthiron Hell hath no fury like a womans scorn for Sega

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2017
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast QLD Australia
    Everyone has their fair share of these.

    I have 2 motorcycle mechanics I trust. One of these is also the only Mechanic I trust with a car.

    Have had 2 separate mechanics deny a high speed wobble that always replicated at speed. Fixed it myself.
    Dealership mechanic who denied a surging/power loss issue on a BRAND NEW motorcycle which was many others had also complained about. Eventually I diagnosed and fixed this myself.
    Got a new rear Tyre and oil change done at a very well known motorcycle shop in Alice Springs earlier this year and the bike came out with a rock solid tight chain. When I went back in to tell them that the chain was way too tight the guy just asked me what size spanner I needed to fix it........... I sorted it myself. Possibly the worst service I've ever received at a bike shop that place in general.
    #18
  19. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,253
    Location:
    Central Mn
    I patronize a guy that owns a one-person shop, not a dealership. I do most of my own work, but once in awhile I need him for something I am not comfortable with.
    The one man shop guy typically will try to cover your needs and make you happy, as it's his livelihood, while many dealers not so much....
    #19
    Desce likes this.
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    9,122
    Location:
    Southern Louisiana or Southern England or ...
    I bet it does! I believe that YOU know what you are doing. Sadly it's tough for a visiting customer to tell the great guys from the good ones or bad ones. It's also often impossible to know if the person who did a 12K service (for example) actually checked half the things he was supposed to and whether he personally did the work or if the oil change and chain adjust, etc., were done by the kid who sweeps the floor.
    #20
    Anthiron likes this.