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Was I overcharged for car repairs in Chiayi, Taiwan?

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Was I overcharged for car repairs in Chiayi, Taiwan?

Postby Winston » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:37 pm

Today, at my dad's advice, I took our car to the dealer where we bought it from, to see if they could fix the car door. Every time I turn off the engine, when I open the car door, it wouldn't shut. To fix it, I'd have to lock and unlock it with the remote keychain, and then the door would close. This would happen every time. When I went to the dealer, a franchise of SUM (Serve Your Motors), the couple that ran it told me that they knew my parents for a long time and so I figured I could trust them.

After checking the door, they said the locking mechanism inside had to be replaced. So I sat around and had tea and candy there while they ordered the part and replaced the door lock. It took about 3 hours, for both the delivery and labor. They said they'd just charge me for the parts, but not the labor, since they knew my parents. I thought that was nice.

But then they said that the car was overdue for an oil change, and showed that the sticker on the windshield indicated that it was 2000km overdue. The last oil change had been nearly one year ago. So I agreed to let them change the oil. My parents got their oil change there last time, so I figured that it was the best place to do it.

However, the oil change ended up costing over 2000NT (about $70). I figured that was normal, since filling up a full tank of gas usually cost me 1000NT ($33), and in the US, oil changes usually cost $40 or $50 at those 10 minute Jiffy Lube type of places. I was also charged 3000NT for the door. So the total cost of everything came out to 5400NT. I highly doubt that they only charged me for the part and not the labor?

Later, when I called my expat friend Mark (who has lived in Taiwan for 16 years), he told me that oil changes in Taiwan usually cost about 500NT. WTF? Can it really be that cheap? Only $17? Then I called my uncle and he told me that oil changes do cost around 2000NT in Taiwan.

WTF? 500NT and 2000NT are a big difference. Which one is right? Did I get ripped off or overcharged? I know in the US, car dealers always overcharge for repairs, and usually want to replace every little thing even when it's not necessary, but I wasn't sure if it was true for Taiwan or not.

Later I called my dad and he said that the last oil and filter change he got at that dealer cost 1400NT. So then how come they charged me 2000NT?

Momopi, what do you think? Was I ripped off or overcharged?

I do have an itemized list of charges from them, so I guess I can show it to people and ask around to see if those costs were legit or not.
Last edited by Winston on Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby eurobrat » Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:17 pm

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Last edited by eurobrat on Sat May 25, 2013 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby momopi » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:30 pm

Last I recall, your father was driving an used car from a relative. Did he purchase a new (or used) car from a local dealership?

Dealerships will charge more for oil change. Next time, ask for pricing before agreeing to any service. But as far as visits to the autoshop goes, you got off pretty light.
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Postby Winston » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:02 am

eurobrat wrote:You went to the dealer, that's your first problem.


Why do dealers charge more? Why do they always try to replace everything rather than fixing it? Is there a reason for that?

This is true in the US, but not sure about Taiwan.

Momopi wrote:Last I recall, your father was driving an used car from a relative. Did he purchase a new (or used) car from a local dealership?

Dealerships will charge more for oil change. Next time, ask for pricing before agreeing to any service. But as far as visits to the autoshop goes, you got off pretty light.


Yes he bought a new car from a dealership here.

Why do dealerships charge more? They did give me pricing in advance, but I had no idea what the appropriate pricing is for such a thing in Taiwan. Besides, I don't know of any other place here to do oil changes or car repairs. And I figured I could trust them, since they knew my parents for a long time.
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Postby momopi » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:49 am

Dealerships charge more for services because they have higher overhead. Ask local taxi drivers about the cost of oil & filter change, and which garage they go to for service.

A car is made of moving and non-moving parts that get worn and will eventually need to be replaced. What should be replaced and when is often a grey area. i.e. should you replace your battery after 5 years, or when it dies risking being stranded on side of the road? These are the risk assessments that you have to make for yourself.
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Postby Winston » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:33 am

momopi wrote:Dealerships charge more for services because they have higher overhead. Ask local taxi drivers about the cost of oil & filter change, and which garage they go to for service.

A car is made of moving and non-moving parts that get worn and will eventually need to be replaced. What should be replaced and when is often a grey area. i.e. should you replace your battery after 5 years, or when it dies risking being stranded on side of the road? These are the risk assessments that you have to make for yourself.


I've already asked around. My uncle and the couple that runs one of the vegetarian places I go to told me that 2000NT for an oil and filter change in Taiwan is very standard, and that I didn't get ripped off.

So I don't know why Mark said that he gets his oil changes for 500NT.

I thought dealerships made their living from selling cars, and that their repair shop was something they put up for extra money?

There are recommended guidelines on when to change your battery and stuff. You just have to find an honest expert.

Do you change your oil every 3,000 miles?

Btw, is the overdrive function in my gear shift used for climbing hills or going down them? What is it for? How is it different from shifting to 2nd gear?
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Postby Truthville » Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:05 am

Winston?

To my knowledge, dealerships make money by selling cars true BUT they also, sometimes, make MORE money making repairs, often unnecessary ones, or charging for "upgrades" and such! Service mangers, especially for luxury brands of cars, can make BIG money! I believe they work on commission or get a percentage of all servicing/repairs done?

I would NEVER NEVER NEVER buy a brand new car! It depreciates quite a bit as soon as you drive it off the lot. IMHO, better to buy last year's model gently used.

I'm confused by what you are calling "overdrive?" When I have had manual transmissions, "overdrive" was 5th gear which was used once you reach 50mph for better gas mileage BUT has less power.

I currently have an automatic transmission truck...........overdrive is the D with a circle, once again for less power but better gas mileage.
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Postby Winston » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:07 pm

Truthville wrote:Winston?

To my knowledge, dealerships make money by selling cars true BUT they also, sometimes, make MORE money making repairs, often unnecessary ones, or charging for "upgrades" and such! Service mangers, especially for luxury brands of cars, can make BIG money! I believe they work on commission or get a percentage of all servicing/repairs done?

I would NEVER NEVER NEVER buy a brand new car! It depreciates quite a bit as soon as you drive it off the lot. IMHO, better to buy last year's model gently used.

I'm confused by what you are calling "overdrive?" When I have had manual transmissions, "overdrive" was 5th gear which was used once you reach 50mph for better gas mileage BUT has less power.

I currently have an automatic transmission truck...........overdrive is the D with a circle, once again for less power but better gas mileage.


I mean the overdrive button on the gear shift stick. I just googled "overdrive button" and read a few articles. It seems that some articles say what you say, that it's used for cruising over 50mph to save gas, but other articles say it's used to climb hills. Why is that? Is it used for both? That sounds odd.
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Postby momopi » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:14 pm

On Japanese made cars with automatic transmission & overdrive (OD) button, the OD is probably the 4th or 5th speed and makes the engine operate at lower RPM to improve gas milege on freeways.

I am not familiar with your driving habits & patterns, so the best suggestion I can give is to carry a notebook in your car and track your gas milege after filling up. Try driving with and without the OD enabled and see which one yields better gas milege for you.
Last edited by momopi on Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Winston » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:26 pm

Well when I turn the overdrive off (button comes out, the button is in by default by the way, which turns it on), the car seems to slow down, so I can't imagine it'd be used for cruising speed. If I turn it off while driving 50mph, the car will slow down, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to do that. The acceleration when it's off sounds like a variation of 2nd gear, it becomes slow and loud. So I don't know.

Maybe we are confused here. Maybe leaving the overdrive on, in its default position, is what saves the gas mileage on the freeway, and you turn it off to climb hills?

But then, how do you know whether to turn off overdrive or use 2nd gear for going up hills?

Btw, why is it that every car I drive, whether new or old, has trouble climbing hills? I mean, I seem to go slower uphill than everyone else. Even other drivers in older cars always seem to pass me up when going uphill. How do other drivers go uphill so fast? Are they pressing really hard on the gas pedal? If so, isn't that bad for your car?
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Postby Winston » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:45 pm

Btw, something is wrong with the control box under my seat, the one that works with the remote control lock. The car sometimes has a repetitive clicking noise, very much like the turn signal clicking sound. While it makes that clicking sound, the interior lights blink on and off too. It's very annoying. So I took the car back to the dealer. They said that the control box under the seat, which receives signals from the keychain remote lock, is broken. It would cost 2000NT to replace it.

There are two fuses connected to it. When one is removed, it still works, but it stops the clicking noise most of the time, but it occasionally comes back. When both fuses are plugged in though, the clicking sound definitely continues.

Who designed the control box to make this stupid clicking sound? Did they do that on purpose to annoy you? It seems unnecessary. If it's broken, then the fact that it doesn't receive signals from the remote should be enough. Maybe it's a ploy to get you to replace it? lol

I wonder if the dealership broke it on purpose to get me to replace it? lol. I doubt it though, because it only happens sometimes, not all the time.

How do I fix it? Should I go to a standard repair shop to see if they can fix it?

Any of you ever have this problem before?
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Postby Winston » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:34 am

Well it turns out that the dealership tried to trick me into an unnecessary replacement.

I went to an auto shop today to ask about the clicking noise caused by the control box under the seat. The mechanic said that it was not defective. It only clicks to remind you to close or lock your doors. Also, both of the connectors are supposed to be plugged in, not just one. For some reason, the dealership we bought the car from, SUM, disconnected one of the connectors when they were fixing the door, probably to trigger the clicking sound more often, so that I would believe that it was broken.

In other words, they tried to trick me into replacing it, even though it wasn't broken. I am lucky I didn't fall for it, or I would have paid 2000NT for nothing. I didn't know Taiwan dealerships try to trick people into making unnecessary replacements. Oh well. I guess that's business.

As far as the oil change price, the auto shop said that they would also have charged about 2000NT for an oil change with high grade oil, so I wasn't overcharged for the oil change last time. Several other Taiwanese people I asked also said that 2000NT was a standard average price for an oil and filter change in Taiwan.
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Postby onethousandknives » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:29 pm

I change oil myself, it costs about $4 for a filter, and about $12 for 5 quarts of oil bought at Walmart. High grade synthetic oil runs like $20 or so per 5 quarts. In USA most cheap oil changes run like $20 or so. I feel it's better doing it myself as I know for sure what kinda oil and filter is going in, rather than a magical mystery drum of oil from a shop. All you gotta do is buy ramps, a socket set, oil filter wrenches, and a drain pan. Takes like 10 minutes. Wear old clothes and wash your hands.

But this is because I don't trust people.
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Postby onethousandknives » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:40 pm

Winston wrote:Well when I turn the overdrive off (button comes out, the button is in by default by the way, which turns it on), the car seems to slow down, so I can't imagine it'd be used for cruising speed. If I turn it off while driving 50mph, the car will slow down, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to do that. The acceleration when it's off sounds like a variation of 2nd gear, it becomes slow and loud. So I don't know.

Maybe we are confused here. Maybe leaving the overdrive on, in its default position, is what saves the gas mileage on the freeway, and you turn it off to climb hills?

But then, how do you know whether to turn off overdrive or use 2nd gear for going up hills?

Btw, why is it that every car I drive, whether new or old, has trouble climbing hills? I mean, I seem to go slower uphill than everyone else. Even other drivers in older cars always seem to pass me up when going uphill. How do other drivers go uphill so fast? Are they pressing really hard on the gas pedal? If so, isn't that bad for your car?


Overdrive is higher geared. You'd only turn OD off for something like going up hills, yeah. Most cars have 4 speed autos, so it'll go up to 3rd gear with OD off, or if it's 5 or 6 speed auto, up to 4th or 5th. Most people just leave OD on all the time and only turn it off if they're climbing some crazy gradient hill. Or just leave it on and don't even know what the little button is and ignore it.

Usually the best way to climb a hill is, all hills have downhill and uphill sections generally. So what you try to do is gain speed going downhill or flat, and try to keep momentum going up the hill, while still accelerating smoothly, you will use more throttle going up hill, but usually you don't need to like, floor it.

It could also be you're buying small engine 4 cylinder econo cars that have low power. Even in a car with the same horsepower ratings, a 4 cylinder car with less capacity will have less torque thus you'll need to rev it higher to get the same power out of it. Horsepower is an equation of torque by revolutions per minute. So like, an example is like, a bicycle. You can probably push a bicycle pedal with like a hundred or more foot pounds of torque, but you're only able to pedal maybe 100RPM, thus the bike is like 1/2hp. Conversely, you can have a motor from like, a cassette player, spin like a thousand RPM and make no torque, so it makes like .0001hp or something. So like, a Lincoln Town Car with a V8, even though it's older, will have more torque and probably more horsepower than like, a new Kia Rio or something. And cars like the Kia Rio unfortunately to get them to move, you gotta rev them higher and it makes for a "buzzy" kinda riding experience compared to said Lincoln Town Car that revs at like 1500RPM everywhere you go. Like my mom's Taurus on the highway would consistently be like 2000RPM. It was rated for 160hp. My Mitsubishi Galant is rated for like 140hp. It's consistently like 2800rpm on the highway, as the engine makes more power up high due it being smaller.
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