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2000 ml320 & 2002 c32 AMG
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I went to the dealership this morning to get a complimentary 25-point inspection. The results included a leaking rear main seal. They told me this in January when I was there, but when I took it to my local transmission shop he fixed a valve stem gasket. After the free inspection I brought it back to the transmission shop and he said it is likely to be another leak that has to do with the valve or whatever. Has anyone had any experience with the rear main seal leaking?
Thanks
 

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The rear main seal is a $17 item with almost 11 hrs. of labor to remove and install. The valve stem gasket is probably the valve cover gasket, but when you are told things you must write these things down, and not post them from memory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah i mis-typed.
The strange thing is that back in January when the Mercedes Dealership thought it was a rear main seal, my independent Transmission Shop replaced the valve cover gasket. Is it unusual for rear main seals OR valve cover gaskets to fail?
 

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There is nothing unusual for any item on a vehicle to fail. It's a mechanical device. And you're welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just havent seen this except in three places on the forums, and it was 'lightly' discussed. Anyways, thanks for your help; looks like its another 800 bucks...
 

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There seems to be confustion here. Are you referring to a transmission fluid leak or an engine oil leak?

And as mentioned gaskets and seals are normal wear and tear items. Usually between 100k and 200k miles you are going to spend a few thousand replacing them. Then you are good to go for another 100k+ miles as long as you've done all of proper maintenance.

If it is actually a main seal first find an honest shop. I don't see it taking 11 hours for someone who is experienced. Also you should go ahead and consider replacing the driveshaft support bearing and the transmission mounts since they'll have easy access to them. If the shop is halfway honest they'll just tack on an hour or so of labor to take care of those.

All in all it is probably a 6 hour job for everything. The shop will round that up to 8 hours as a fudge factor to allow for any screwups on their part (hey, you have to make a little profit - a little is OK. Doubling the time is not).
 

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Gene, the repair facility, either it being the dealer or and indpendent, can legally charge what the book hourly rate is. If a job calls for 11 hrs, and he accomplishes it in 5 hrs. he is still entitled to the repair of 11 hrs. regardless.
 

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There is no "legal" charge, at least not in the free states. NY may be a price controlled area but the USA is generally not like this. The charge is whatever is negotiated between the supplier and the consumer. There is no governement "legal" rate deciding how many hours to do a job.

What you state may be true for NY but the rest of the country does not operate this way. Just because there is a "book" rate that is incorrect does not mean that a shop "legally" has to charge that amount in the rest of the USA. Personally my advice to the forum would be that if any mechanic is so incompetent that s/he thinks that they need 11 hours to do this job then one should leave the shop immediately and advise everyone they know that the shop doesn't have a clue about how to do their job.
 

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Dirrerent vehicles but the same engine. I had a rear main seal leaking last year in my E320 at about 70,000 miles when the car was 7 years old. I had it fixed at the dealer (covered by CPO warranty) but I don't know what they charged MB. They did it in one afternoon so it must have been about 4 hours actual labor.
 

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"Book rate" is something that grew largely out of the Stealerships need to make money on the back shop because they were loosing it on the showroom floor.

The way it works as to 'legal' is that if they (or anyone else charging by the hour) charge you labour based on an "hourly rate" the law (nearly everywhere) says they have to charge you the actual hours they worked "unless the consumer is informed otherwise" and that is why you see signs in repair shops that say something like "Our labour charges are based on Industry Standard published guidelines.".

In other words, if they don't tell you by a sign or otherwise that the labour charge is based on 'book time' instead of the clock, they can't charge you more than the time it took to do it 'legally'.
 

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The problem is that I read the earlier post as implying that the law said that that they had to charge 11 hours. No, they don't. They can charge whatever is negotiated between the consumer and the shop. The "book" rate is just a made up number that usually has little to do with reality.

This is why it is so important to find an honest repair shop. Now even the honest one is going to round the time up when preparing an estimate. After all there will be unforseen problems or even screwups on their part that will take more time than optimal.

Now you aren't going to find honesty at a McChain nor at a dealer (unless you have a fairly significant fleet). But there are plenty of good repair shops out there that won't try and rape you for every dime.

Not that the alternative is any good either. The shop has to make a profit to stay open and if it is a good place of business it is to the customer's best interest to make sure that they stay open. So in this case paying 8 hours for a 5-6 hour job is IMO worthwhile. Paying 11 hours is pure robbery on their part. Just because it is "allowed" doesn't make it an honest business practice.
 

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The "book time" is just a guideline based on how fast an average mechanic can do the job. Mercedes does have there own time guide (startime) that list almost all repairs and the times they will pay under warranty to the dealer/tech. But once you get into customer pay, its a totally different story. Lots of dealers will bump the "book time" up by 30-50% for customer pay items. It depends alot on the dealers flow of work and also there competition in the area. Lots of independants in a close proximity will limit the amout the dealer charges for repairs, since the indies charge a lot less per hour. I have heard of some dealers charging nearly $500 bucks for a B service, while mine only charges a little over $250. But there are over 30 indies within 8 square miles of my dealer. So you have to be competitive to keep work coming in the door.

On a side note about the customer pay bump- some dealers will not mark up basic maintanence work like brakes, oil changes, tires and belts. but again that depends on the dealer and there area.
 

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Gene, I never implied nor said that the law stated that they HAD to charge 11 hrs. Every repair starts off with the price of parts plus the labor rate (hrs.) x the shops hourly rate, which gives the total price of the repair.

If that same repair takes less hours to accomplish, there is no legal or moral obligation to refund the customer. Labor rates to remove and install parts are established by each manufacturer when they assemble each vehicle. The industry uses their determination on how long it would take to remove and install a certain component. There must be some standard set throughout the industry and that standard applies to repair shops in NY or Oregon, hence the labor rate. The only difference in the total price, should be the hourly rate that each facility sets. The same labor rates are referred to and used everywhere and those rates are published, either in book form or on CD. These rates were established to remove the old practice of charging "whatever the traffic will bear". Now that labor rates came into being, the consumer still feels his pockets are being emptied. Maybe you believe that each vehicle owner should just walk in to any dealer or repair shop and say "I want my transmission replaced and I am only going to pay $200. When do you want me to drop it off?"

Agreed that the industry is rife with thieves, but a repair shop can never be accused of over charging a customer if the labor rates were adhered to and the hourly rates were not changed. If you are looking for morality in the industry, you won't find much of it. Should a repair shop reduce the cost of the bill because you lost your job, or you don't have the enough money to pay,or he or she just went through a divorce or his vehicle has been a headache to him from the day he bought it? Why is it always that the mechanic has to be moral and feel sorry for the consumer? Would a customer be morally obligated to pay more for a certain repair because the repair shop had a bad month and couldn't meet payroll or couldn't pay his rent? Of course not.
 
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