Our experience with Toyota service has been uniformly bad. I suppose that this is not most people’s experience with Toyota, but is sure has been ours, over years, different dealerships and different cities. The car itself, at least until the warranty ran out, was fine. Then suddenly it wasn’t, and getting it serviced after that just felt like getting robbed over and over again, unconvincing reasons and repeat visits attached to hefty price tags, stuff we’d thought would stay fixed from the last time.
If we were still in Ottawa, I’d take it to Mr. Takaki again in a minute. But we’re not. So, our long saga of sporadic car repairs has come to a close. After yet another Toyota dealership tried to screw us, this time out of twelve hundred dollars (half of which was to replace almost-brand-new but dangerously aftermarket parts…) I went, bought the parts and did the repairs myself.
I’m looking over their list of “recommended repairs” now, and I don’t know whether to be angry or just laugh. “Replace cracked drive belt: $107+Tax”. That breaks down to a twenty-five dollar part, and (presumably) an hour of labor; it turns out that a rank amateur with the right wrench and the replacement part can do that job exactly right, on the first try, in less than ten minutes.
These time estimates they give you are apparently written down as the “accepted industry times” somewhere, giggle. I’m sure somewhere it says “time to replace rotors: 1 hour” and “time to replace pads: 1 hour”, but when you take your car to (just to pick an example) Downtown Toyota on Queen Street East, they won’t tell you that the time to replace rotors and pads at the same time is 1 hour and two minutes. The retail cost of replacement parts is less than $150. Time? About one hour for the first one, and about twenty minutes for the second one. From start, with zero experience. Toyota wanted more than four hundred dollars for that work. And, according to them, not because there was anything wrong with the brakes but just to replace almost-brand-new parts whose only defect was that they weren’t manufactured by Toyota.
And it turns out that once you’re willing to get your hands dirty, the actual work is about as difficult as changing a bicycle tire.
I should have done this years ago.