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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Needed to change the oil on my girlfriend's bike yesterday, so went to the local dealership (where I would NEVER, under any circumstances, take a bike to be repaired) for oil and filter.

Tried charging me $23 for the filter, which was soon cleared up (oops, we made a mistake, which I can accept, but still--anyone working in a shop should know a filter, even a genuine Honda part, doesn't cost that much). No, the kicker came when I noticed the GN4 oil was 10W-30 and there was no 10W-40 on the shelf.

Honda quit making 10W-40, the man behind the counter said. But don't fret--this'll work just fine.

Gulp.

I walked out with tingling spine. BTW, this same dealership once quoted me one price on some plastic for my ST1100, then upped the price by $30 when the part arrived a few days later. What's up with that? Well, red parts cost more than black ones, they explained, and the quote we gave you was for a black part. Then, when I had a flat, they didn't have parts to make a plug, but assured me that slime-in-a-can would work fine for a tubeless radial, even though the product said right on the label that it was for tubed off-road tires only.

I've learned through bitter experience that it doesn't help to complain to Honda about places like these, nor does it help to complain to the manager. All you can do is not patronize them except in dire emergency and hope that they go out of business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's RTD Motorsports in Springfield--hope that doesn't break any rules on this site.

My fallback was Niehaus in Litchfield. Niehaus is, by far, the most expensive place to get a bike worked on in Central Illinois (or the St. Louis area, for that matter), but, in my experience, there's no other choice. I lived in St. Louis for five years and tried every Honda dealership (with the exception of Chesterfield Power Sports) in that town and had nightmare experiences. Charged more than $200 for a tuneup on a 1975 Goldwing that was nothing more than new plugs and oil--it went out the door with RPM set at 3,000 and the old points, rotor and condenser still on. Even after making the request upon bringing the bike in, brake shoes gone unchecked on a tire change (which is standard at every dealership I've been to in ten-plus years) resulting in ruined rotor and a $600-plus repair, with no satisfaction from dealership or Honda. Charged $200 for adding a pint of antifreeze and told the overheating bike was just my imagination. It wasn't--it needed a thermostat. Duh.

All of the above--and more--happened to me at three St. Louis Honda dealerships between 1999 and 2004. Sure, they charged less than Niehaus, and they were a lot more convenient geography wise. But their work was so shoddy as to be dangerous. Completely different story when I lived in Phoenix, where more people ride and the season lasts year round. Maybe that has something to do with it. There are a lot more dealerships there, the competition seems keener (Town and Country in Chandler was especially good), so perhaps there is no room for folks who don't know what they are doing. That certainly has not been my experience in the Midwest.

Sorry for the rant. That "Honda doesn't make 10-W40 anymore" remark yesterday brought back some awful memories.

OK, I've given full disclosure. I'd be interested in hearing about other dealerships, good or bad, so I know whom to patronize on road trips or should I ever move again.
 

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Good Dealer Story:

I just bought an 06 VTX1300S from my local Dealer (note: I didn't use the term "stealer"). I traded in my 98 VT1100C3 (Aero 1100) that was giving me nothing but grief electrically for the last year and a half.

The dealer repaired the Aero and deducted the cost from the trade-in. KBB and NADA listed the 98 Aero in "Good" condition at $3300. I got $3000, which I thought was fair, considering they had to repair the bike to make it resaleable.

The 06 VTX1300S lists MSRP at $9599. I got it for $8300 + a $500 Honda rebate.

The Dealership is Dutrow's Honda in Frederick MD, and I will not hesitate to go back for new bikes or service from them.

Radar
 

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I use Bo-Jo Honda in Sycamore,Il for all my work. I have had great work done there over the past 9 years with no complaints. I'm told there are cheaper shops 30-40 miles away but I have heard more complaints about them than Bob-Jo. I am a regular customer and know all the mechanics by name. I just picked up my bike after having it fixed for a crash in November and the mechanic came out to adjust my shifter and highway pegs to fit me. I have a little less flexibility in my left foot. He must have spent 15 minutes getting it just right. No charge just wanted to make sure everything was right.

billp
 

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nice to see some good experiences with dealerships as well...too often we remember the bad and not the good. Thanks!
 

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onephsyco1 said:
The Honda dealer I bought my 1100 shadow from
Still gives me A 15% discount . And I dont own that bike no more !
They know me by name also.
http://www.kencarrcyclecenter.com/

Jack
Ken Carr.....got my Coretech jacket from them in January and prior to that some stuff at their old place out in King of Prussia. Maybe a forum member meeting place in the future....... :)
 

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I'm sure there are some good dealerships out there. I've found only one of the three here aren't out to screw you, & that's only because the only work I've had them do has been my annual inspection sticker. They have been extremely prompt about doing that while I waited - even without an appointment. That's Joe Harrison here in San Antonio. There's one other (cycleplex) that i wouldn't let check the air in my tires because they'd tell me that I need to have my turn signal fluid changed & then charge me thousand$$$ more than the shop manual says. Honda of NB gave me an estimate on getting my ACE fixed several years ago, & then raised the price of labor on me when I came to pick it up - it took a lot of loud protesting in their showroom about how they quoted me $55/hr & now are charging me $75/hr to get them to finally honor their price. I won't step foot in there, again, either.

My solution is that I do my own work. And, if there comes a time when the work is too complicated for me, I ditch the bike & start over. And, if I get stranded on a road trip? I'll ship the machine back home where I've got my tool chests and can do my work - & I'll fly home or rent a car to bring me back here. This attitude is extra motivation for me to spend the time working on the bike when necessary and spend the money on the tools that I don't already have. And, it helps to have the dealership's shop manual on CD - it's MUCH better than any Haynes or Chilton I've ever seen. And, as for training - "mechanic training" - I've found it's only necessary to be able to USE the tools, not necessarily to know HOW to do the work. Now, I'm not saying anyone who knows which end of the screwdriver to hold is able to do the work that must be done with the screw driver. But, with all due respect to professionally trained mechanics, it ain't rocket science. And, it helps to have a bike with a "bulletproof" engine (just one reason I own a Honda).

I ain't bashing dealership shops, I'm just telling the truth & relating how I've responded to my experiences. This plan of action seems to be the best way to avoid unscrupulous shops and avoid the need for me to recombobulate my bike after some incompetant "professional" discombobulates (decombobulates, uncombobulates, miscombobulates, whatever) the bike in the first place. Plus, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I've accomplished something.

Best of luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
David said:
I'm sure there are some good dealerships out there. I've found only one of the three here aren't out to screw you, & that's only because the only work I've had them do has been my annual inspection sticker. They have been extremely prompt about doing that while I waited - even without an appointment. That's Joe Harrison here in San Antonio. There's one other (cycleplex) that i wouldn't let check the air in my tires because they'd tell me that I need to have my turn signal fluid changed & then charge me thousand$$$ more than the shop manual says. Honda of NB gave me an estimate on getting my ACE fixed several years ago, & then raised the price of labor on me when I came to pick it up - it took a lot of loud protesting in their showroom about how they quoted me $55/hr & now are charging me $75/hr to get them to finally honor their price. I won't step foot in there, again, either.

My solution is that I do my own work. And, if there comes a time when the work is too complicated for me, I ditch the bike & start over. And, if I get stranded on a road trip? I'll ship the machine back home where I've got my tool chests and can do my work - & I'll fly home or rent a car to bring me back here. This attitude is extra motivation for me to spend the time working on the bike when necessary and spend the money on the tools that I don't already have. And, it helps to have the dealership's shop manual on CD - it's MUCH better than any Haynes or Chilton I've ever seen. And, as for training - "mechanic training" - I've found it's only necessary to be able to USE the tools, not necessarily to know HOW to do the work. Now, I'm not saying anyone who knows which end of the screwdriver to hold is able to do the work that must be done with the screw driver. But, with all due respect to professionally trained mechanics, it ain't rocket science. And, it helps to have a bike with a "bulletproof" engine (just one reason I own a Honda).

I ain't bashing dealership shops, I'm just telling the truth & relating how I've responded to my experiences. This plan of action seems to be the best way to avoid unscrupulous shops and avoid the need for me to recombobulate my bike after some incompetant "professional" discombobulates (decombobulates, uncombobulates, miscombobulates, whatever) the bike in the first place. Plus, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I've accomplished something.

Best of luck to you.
You obviously don't own an ST1100. There's a zillion specialized tools you need for those suckers. That, plus the fact that I can barely change my own oil, forces me to use shops. Sorry for your experiences. I've come to accept that I'll be charged out the ying-yang by the only shop within a 100-mile radius that I can trust to do work right. They have no shortage of business, and they wouldn't be able to charge so much if other shops were honest and reliable. That's one thing, I think, that Harley has over Honda. I've never heard the horror stories about Harley shops that I've heard, and experienced myself, on Honda shops. I'm guessing that's because HD rides herd on their dealerships. Honda, it seems, doesn't give a rip what its dealerships do.
 

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You obviously don't own an ST1100. There's a zillion specialized tools you need for those suckers. That, plus the fact that I can barely change my own oil, forces me to use shops.
Every motorcycle ever made requires some sort of special tool(s), even my bone-simple KLR650, so your ST1100 is no different. Some of the time you can work around the problem by creative substitution, and failing that borrow or buy the special tool.

The second statement is actually pretty sad to read. If you've got the intellectual resources to write a grammatical sentence you can also master the skills necessary to fix your bike. Information abounds in service manuals, on internet in sites like this one, and with friends who have some mechanical experience. I have no practical or useful skills at all (career as a foreign service officer) and no mechanical training, but I have been able to successfully do every kind of maintenance and/or repair my cars and bikes have needed. And I've had some cars and bikes greatly in need of repair. It's just a question of approaching it methodically, with the right information and a high threshhold of frustration. Every first time through a procedure will have unforseen complications, but plugging away will ultimately solve them. Cursing violently also helps.

Will there be something some day that I can't fix? Probably, but it hasn't happened yet, and until it does why surrender to the tender mercies of a dealer?
 

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Strider,
Sorry to hear they hosed you at RTD. I've gone there numerous times and never had any issue with the parts people anyway. I had to make an emergency parts run on Saturday looking for water return tube seals. They didn't have 'em in stock but gave me some that were similar to try. They worked and the shop didn't charge me anything for them.
I also go to the RTD shop in Taylorville. Owned by the same outfit but very friendly helpful folks there.

Mark
 

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Bought my Sabre at Extreme Motorcycles-Gastonia in April 06

The clutch cable was not properly installed and dislocated itself while I was warming the bike up....Clutch pulled in no hand on brake....not pretty, and it was August before I realized that I did not have an inspection sticker....

I shop at the local Suzuki place now and I do my own preventative maintenance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
MikeB said:
You obviously don't own an ST1100. There's a zillion specialized tools you need for those suckers. That, plus the fact that I can barely change my own oil, forces me to use shops.
Every motorcycle ever made requires some sort of special tool(s), even my bone-simple KLR650, so your ST1100 is no different. Some of the time you can work around the problem by creative substitution, and failing that borrow or buy the special tool.

The second statement is actually pretty sad to read. If you've got the intellectual resources to write a grammatical sentence you can also master the skills necessary to fix your bike. Information abounds in service manuals, on internet in sites like this one, and with friends who have some mechanical experience. I have no practical or useful skills at all (career as a foreign service officer) and no mechanical training, but I have been able to successfully do every kind of maintenance and/or repair my cars and bikes have needed. And I've had some cars and bikes greatly in need of repair. It's just a question of approaching it methodically, with the right information and a high threshhold of frustration. Every first time through a procedure will have unforseen complications, but plugging away will ultimately solve them. Cursing violently also helps.

Will there be something some day that I can't fix? Probably, but it hasn't happened yet, and until it does why surrender to the tender mercies of a dealer?
Ah, if only it were so simple. Every once in awhile, I get the notion that, yeah, it's just mechanical. I'm not stupid. I should be able to do this. And every time, I swear never again. Last time was changing the headlight bulb on my ST. Took a whole afternoon--and that was the SECOND time I'd done it. Don't get me started on cars.

No. Being able to write a grammatically correct sentence has no bearing on being able to work on a bike. Being a professional writer and a motorcycle enthusiast, I think I have some expertise in this arena. I've seen plenty of posts on this and other Web sites by mechanical geniuses who couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted them the c and the t, but they can nonetheless fix just about anything.

Being a mechanic takes a certain mindset and temperament, I think. Nonetheless, I'm about to dive in again and put the controls on my Sabre back where they belong (the previous owner has them pushed forward three inches with brackets), which involves replacing a shifter linkage. I'm looking at it thinking "This can't possibly be anything but easy." Deep in my heart, though, I know I'm about to get schooled again.
 

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The things you can do yourself, you do. Those things you can't, you learn. that's what this forum is here for. Don't have the right tool, you buy it. Working on the bike is a pleasure second only to riding it. Just my opinion, but I don't want another mechanic touching my bike when I'm not there to see what he's doing (wrong). Don't tell me it's a mind set. It's a learned skill, like anything else. Be patient, take it slow, and do it at your own pace. You'll know your bike a lot better when you're done, and you get the satisfaction of doing it (right) yourself. When I bought my scooter I thought I would take it to the dealer for everything it needed. It's never been back since the day I rode it off the lot. Anyone can do it (themselves). JMHO.
 

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Dealers, ahh....dealers.

My experience is a mixed bag. For Hondas, many people here in Vegas go to Carter Powersports. I personally bought my Shadow Aero there. Their retail prices and service fees are an absolute rip-off and I wound up doing most of the work myself because as other say, its easy, fun, and there's plenty of online research available. But, Carter did declare my bike a total loss after I wrecked it instead of sticking me with a shoddy repair job to make a quick few thousand. They also quoted all my aftermarket components accurately at the retail prices I paid for them (even though they ddidn't sell me any of them), which helped me to get a fair settlement.

With my BMW, the main issue is I'm captive to the dealer, since no one else seems to know how to fix them. Prices for service work are usually high. But, the staff is knowledgeable (I've verified with my own online research), and they've come up with some "creative" solutions for certain problems for very low cost, that got me through a sticky situation. So, what's a man to do (other than go to BMW mechanic school).
 

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strider said:
I've never heard the horror stories about Harley shops that I've heard, and experienced myself, on Honda shops. I'm guessing that's because HD rides herd on their dealerships. Honda, it seems, doesn't give a rip what its dealerships do.
I won't argue with what we might think Honda does, or doesn't do, to keep their dealership "in line." But, my cousin had a brand new HD burn up a valve because of a bad camshaft. Dealer said it'd take 3 weeks to get the parts in & another 3 weeks to do the work - under warrantee. My cousin rode one of his other HDs across Texas to a dealer that had the parts in stock. That was on a Saturday. That Sunday he had the whole thing replaced & was taking a Sunday afternoon drive on the new bike - with new valves, headwork fixed, and a new camshaft. He's since put another 25k miles on the bike in the past 2 years & is about to trade it in on a new one. BTW, he gets a new one in exchange for his 2 yr old one at virtually no cost to him because HD has a deal with certain groups (Police officers, Shriners, etc.). The moral of the story is that there are stories everywhere.

Someone in this thread said "There are things I can't do, & things I learn how to do." I agree with this but prefer to state it differently: "There are two kinds of things in this world: Things I can do & things I'm going to learn how to do." but I'll put the limit at bodily surgery. I ain't operating on myself, & I dang sure ain't operating on you. But, if it's somewhere between tying my shoelaces & rocket science, I either know how to do it, or I know that I can figure it out - & will, if the need be. Remember, Necessity ain't just a mother, it's THE mother of invention, & that includes inventing your own skill.
 
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