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looking for an honest shop in middle and/or lower bucks county, pa

Discussion in 'BMW' started by west76, Mar 13, 2011.

    west76 guest

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    title pretty much sums it up, but here is some more detail. i try to do my own work, but given skill, tool, and time limitations, it's not always feasible. i used to have a great mechanic (actually he was also a good friend) for 10+ years. however, he changed over the years as his business grew. long story short, now that he has more cars in his garage than time to work on them, he wants to cherry pick his jobs. for example, his ideal job appears to be putting on crappy brake parts marked up 100%, doing the job in an hour, and charging labor for 3. basically $500 for an hour's work and $100 in parts. ($500 for front pads/rotors was a quote on my e46). good work if you can get it i guess. anyhow, he just didn't have time for me and my old bmw anymore. so, i tried a few other places. one shop where i went for just inspections and oil changes on my two cars managed to underfill the oil in one car by two quarts, overfill the other car by two quarts, cross thread 5 lug nuts, lose my gas cap, and to top it off, break my tail light housing and then proceed to 'fix' it by screwing it to the metal of the car with a screw. i kid you not. my last experience, with a different shop, involved changing out the belts and pulleys on my e46. because i did not have the fan removal tool, i figured i'd give this new shop a chance. with the proper tools at hand, most people can replace the belts and pulleys in 2 hours or so. they changed me 5 hours labor at $100 hr. yeah, $500 for what probably took under 2 hours.

    so i'm just trying to give a feel for the kind of service i get around here. does anyone know of a shop that will install parts at an honest rate, and does not think that bmw ownership means they get to charge you more? i would consider anywhere in lower / middle bucks, but near newtown, bristol, or near I95 would be a plus. let me also mention that thompson bmw service is a disaster, and i am not a fan of zygmunt's service either. thanks!
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    granthr

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    I know it is not Bucks county, but I would go to Bavarian Specialties in KOP or VAC's Motorsport in South Philly. They both support the club and know BMWs inside and out. I live in Central PA and have taken my E30 M3 to Mike at Bavarian Specialties for a valve adjustment. He does good work.

    Regarding prices, don't forget where you live, you are basically in a suburb of Philly and should expect those prices for a decent shop. Bavarian and VACs won't be the cheapest on the block, but they won't screw your taillight to the sheet metal either!

    west76 guest

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    thanks for response. a little far for me, but i'll keep those two in mind. as for price, i hear you. i know this is not the cheapest area. my thing is this, i'll pay the $100/hr. rate, but i'd like a) the work to be competent, and b) to be charged for the number of hours actually worked. my old mechanic, before he got greedy, delivered on both a and b. now he's just a.
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    89dle30

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    I've had good experiences with Ron from Makefield Motors. He's on Dobry Rd., just off Oxford Valley from Rt. 1. I moved from Lower Makefield to Newtown 3 years ago, but I still take my e30 there for state inspection, and he's done work on 2 e30s for me in the past. He replaced the seized water pump on our e46 for less than $500, and that included replacement of a pulley that chipped when the belt was thrown, all the belts, the WP, and the coolant (which is non trivial on a dealer part invoice). I forget the labor component of that, but it was definitely less than the 5 hours you were charged for just the belts and pulleys. The bleeding was done correctly, and that can be time consuming. He's competent, but very low key, and doesn't gouge.

    I'm curious about your experiences with Zygmunt and Thompson. Zygmunt is a DelVal chapter sponsor, and my one experience with them to date has been positive.

    Cheers,
    Pat

    west76 guest

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    wow - i have never heard of them . . . that sounds exactly like the kind of shop i need, and it is great location for me. that price sounds quite good, considering i paid $500 for just the labor. so thanks a lot.

    as for zygmunt, they are great for parts. but as for service, i used them once or twice years ago and was not impressed. once they put the flat-out wrong shocks on my M3. it raised the rear of the car several inches making it look like raised pickup truck. i was amazed that they would even try to give the car back to me like that. more the kind of thing i'd expect from a gas station garage -- not a bmw specialist. they did make it right in the end, however. as for thompson i don't even know where to begin, but my overall experience with them is that they will do anything they can to avoid warranty work, but out of warranty, they will recommend outrageous and unnecessary repairs. i plan to have all of my warranty maintenance and service done by west german from now on, even though it is another 20 miles away.
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    89dle30

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    No problem. The shop is "off the beaten path," so to speak, and Ron's very laid back. The water pump was a few years ago, but from the inspections, prices haven't gone up much, if at all. One note is that his house brand of brakes isn't terrific (but they are pretty dust free), but he hasn't given me too much grief for bringing my own parts with a slight labor upcharge to compensate for the loss of the parts sale. I consider this more than fair.

    I have been a Zygmunt parts customer for years. The single repair experience was a standard m20 timing belt/WP/etc. No problems, no complaints.

    I just ended my maintenance period and am into the CPO block of my warranty. I bought at Thompson, so I'm eligible for their valet program, and that goes a long way toward satisfaction due to the convenience. I had no major issues during the factory warranty (e90 328), but they were very responsive with fixing minor issues that I brought up like rattles and even replaced items like the shift knob and window switch surrounds (plastic peeling) that were similar to those denied as normal wear and tear in another recent thread. I got brakes before they were due (more than 3 mm left) when I said they were squeaking too much. My impression is that this is above and beyond due to strict requirements from NA for the free maintenance. Point being that my experience with Thompson has been very positive so far, and they've done everything I've asked when it was on their dime. I also have a proactive service advisor, and that can make a difference within the same dealership organization. Was it an inspection 2 that was expensive just out of warranty?

    west76 guest

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    off the beaten path and laid back are positives in my book. i love shops like that. that's sort of how my old mechanic was. so i'll be hitting up ron for an inspection in the fall -- if not sooner if need be. thanks again. i'm glad to hear that you've had good luck with ziggy and thompson. i guess everyone has their own experience / opinion. at times i got the sense when i was younger and had my m3 that i was getting the young-guy-fancy-car upcharge. but who knows. and yeah, the sa makes a big difference -- and mine is not the greatest. the last straw for me was when she swore to me that the e60's auto trans is 'a completely sealed system' and the 'trans fluid level cannot be checked' -- ever, at all, can't check it.

    Syrupflow guest

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    I must say I've had a similar experience at Thompson. I almost feel like anyone under the age of 40 is treated as though they were in kindergarten. They've also managed to "misplace" my service appointments more than once and ended up DKing me when I would bring my car in.
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    89dle30

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    Maybe using the valet helps? They (the valet team) always call the day before to confirm work or home pickup. The only issue I had was that they showed up at work once when they were supposed to go home for my wife's car. So they were 40 minutes late for that pickup, but it was their time and their gas.

    Anyway, due to the valet, I actually don't think I've ever interacted with my SA face to face, and I'm under 35. But, I also quote SIB numbers when I make appointments as well. Thanks to Tech Talk, I have a pretty good understanding of the limits of the maintenance and warranty, so they've never tried to BS me. I'm not defending Thompson to a fault, but I've had different experiences with them. But, it just brings us back to the original post, which is that having a good, competent independent is key when you're out of warranty (or even during warranty for out of pocket items).

    drummerfc guest

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    On that note, c'mon over to Joisey (Somerdale, to be exact) and check out MD Motorwerke on the White Horse Pike if you're game. Check out: http://www.bimmershops.com/new-jersey/md-motorwerke-inc for directions, pics, and lots of great reviews on the shop. I've been going there since I bought my '02 525i in June 2008 and these guys are THE BOMB!!

    My doctor recommended them to me, and they don't disappoint. The owners are factory trained experts who used to work at DiSimone BMW in Mt. Laurel (they fix MBs too) for a number of years. They are "old school" guys who aren't just your typical, what I call "Budweiser and Marlboro" mechanics (we all know the type!!). These guys are passionate about BMW (and MB) autos, know which cars were built best and which were problematic, they know the cars inside and out, and they are MUCH cheaper than the dealership - without all the games, Best of all, they won't sell you a job you didn't come in for. They will recommend that you get this work done, or that part replaced, etc...but nothing will be done without your approval. I believe one or both guys are members of the CCA as well (copies of Roundel are always around).

    I know it's a haul for you but trust me - you will not be disapponted. It's a short throw from Rt. 295 North, using either bridge (WW or BF).

    west76 guest

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    now that would REALLY be a hike for me... probably too far for me to go from home, but i'm going to keep this place in mind if i ever have a problem on the way to the jersey shore, etc. so thanks!

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