What other profession do you expect people to work for you for free? From what you've said so far, your expectations are unrealistic. The air bag recall involves unsnapping the old air bag assembly from the steering wheel, lifting it off, unplugging it, then the horn switch is removed and transferred to the new air bag. The new air bag is plugged in and snapped onto the steering wheel. It takes more time to walk to the parts department to get the new air bag than it does to do the repair. The steering wheel is not removed, and no one goes near the clock spring.
To do the clock spring replacement, the steering wheel has to be removed to get to it. That requires special tools, and can take up to an hour.
We have enough trouble already with unjustified accusations from people who don't understand how the machines work that we trust to get us back home, I'll never defend a dishonest mechanic or shop owner, but unwarranted accusations only add to the bad reputation good mechanics have just by being part of the industry.
There's two things your complaint has in common with the original question. This is a common problem, and in both cases, it was not caused by replacing the air bag. As proof, neither problem showed up right after the recall was performed. In my tv repair industry, and the car repair industry, we call that, "being married to the product". That means whatever goes wrong from the date of the repair to the rest of the products' life is our fault because we touched it five years ago, . . Or two years ago, or as in your case, seven months ago. If you get a flat tire, is it because you hit a pot hole seven months ago? If your engine runs rough, is it because of where you filled with gas three weeks ago? Those make just as much sense.
There's over 2,000 defects your Engine Computer can detect. Half of them cause the Check Engine light to turn on. If your mechanic fixes the cause of one of those defects, then a completely different problem develops a week later and turns on the Check Engine light again, is that the mechanic's fault. By your logic it would be.
I DO take issue with the charges you were quoted, but that is not surprising. BMW, VW, Audi, and GM are well-known to be the worst manufacturers in the world when it comes to customer-friendly business practices. They have more ways figured out to separate you from your money after the sale than all the other manufactures combined. According to a large group of national-level trainers for our industry, the best manufacturers at putting customers ahead of profits are Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler. Even with those brands, it is common to find hourly shop rates around $100.00 per hour. If I'd show you my list of expenses and government regulations auto shop owners have to worry about, you would be unable to figure out how they manage to stay in business charging so little!
My reason for sharing that wondrous information is not to justify the high cost of auto repair, but to explain my concern regarding the charges you were quoted. Step one for your complaint of "Air Bag light is on" is to connect a scanner to read the diagnostic fault code. That takes all of five minutes. Some unscrupulous shop owners have a one-hour minimum charge, so that five minute diagnosis could cost you a hundred dollars. In my city, we have about 15 new-car dealers. Most of them are extremely honest and ethical, but the Chevy dealer is the notable exception. He has that one-hour minimum, and almost no repeat customers.
It is an accepted practice to have a separate charge for using the scanner on your car. Those can cost as much as $10,000.00, plus the annual updates that can cost over $1000.00 per year. One of BMW's customer-unfriendly business practices is they are very selfish with their service information and specialized test equipment. They are one of the very few manufacturers that will not share that with the independent repair shops. That's why a lot of shops won't work on BMWs. You're stuck with the dealership and whatever they want to charge.
Finally getting to my point, even with a one-hour minimum, and a test equipment charge, I would be ashamed and embarrassed to hand a customer a $180.00 bill to do a five-minute diagnosis. To give the benefit of the doubt, lets say it takes five minutes to drive the car into the shop, five minutes to find the equipment or wait your turn for it, five minutes to write up your findings on the back of the repair order, and five minutes to drive the car outside, a half-hour charge would not be unreasonable. The fault code for a defective clock spring is very specific as to the circuit, and there's only three connectors, some wire, and the clock spring involved. Given that clock springs do fail, connectors in this safety circuit are of very high quality and have a real low failure rate, AND this is a common problem on this model, a conscientious mechanic would not waste your time and money ruling out those other possibilities before condemning the clock spring. We DO take the time to rule those things out for other problems before we spend your money on a part, but not in this case. The chance of being wrong is less than one in a thousand, and no boss would blame a mechanic if the new clock spring didn't solve the problem.
I'm also surprised with the price you were quoted for the new clock spring. I'm unhappy that a new one for my minivan costs almost $150.00. I suspect your price includes the installation, but even if that takes an hour, the cost is unreasonable. Given the age of the car, I would look for a second opinion from an independent shop, and ask if they will quote a price for a new clock spring, and a used one from a salvage yard. If this is a known high-failure item, a reputable shop owner may not want to trust a used one, but if the dealer will sell them the part, you should get a much better repair estimate for the new one.
My issue with your complaint is threatening to take this to a higher authority. Unless there's more to the story that you haven't shared, you're looking for someone else to blame for the failure of a high-failure part on an expensive fifteen-year-old car, built with expensive parts. When the rest of us need a new clock spring, who do we complain to if our air bag system wasn't worked on previously? It looks to me like the mechanic didn't do anything wrong, and the new air bag didn't cause this problem. That repair was seven months ago with no problems in between.
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 AT 1:33 AM