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SheepRock

Smart Cars and the Embarrasing Cost of Ownership

48 posts in this topic

Im SURE this is a tired old topic, but I have to beat this horse anyway:

I took my car into Edmonton's david morris for my first "B" service. Conversation went thusly:

--------------------

SALES GUY: So, the "B" service will cost you about 430 dollars.

ME: Yeah, I kinda figured it would be pricey. What exactly is a "B" service anyway?

SALES GUY: Well, we give it an oil change, we take off the tires and give a visual inspection to the brakes. We give everything a visual inspection

ME: What happens if you find something wrong?

SALES GUY: well, then you have to pay for the repair.

ME: Do you do anything else?

SALES GUY: Nope.

ME: So for over 400 dollars, you do an oil change and look for problems? thats it?

SALES GUY: Yeah, pretty much.

ME: Do you think you could tighten my parking break? when I engage it on a hill it does nothing.

SALES GUY: Sure, ill have them take a look.

...When I come back to get my car, they charged me 457 bucks and DIDNT fix the breaks.

...When I told my GF about this, she showed me the reciept for the "B" service equivilant they did for her new mitsubishi. For comparison:

2008 SMART CAR: $457 B service

-oil change

-visual inspection

-clean the outside of the car

Mitsubishi: $168 B Service equivilant (southide mitsubishi on a 2008 lancer)

-oil change

-visual inspection with checklist

-tire rotation and balance/alignment

-clean the outside of the car

Whats wrong with this picture? I'll tell you whats wrong. Everyone I've spoken to about this responds the same way: with laughter. I don't blame them. Im embarrased now, simply because I can no longer justify my purchase. All the money ive saved on parking and most of my gas just went into the pockets of whoever owns david morris. Everyone thinks im an idiot now for buying a smart car because of the cost of a bloody oil change.

Even with the "Mercedes markup" this bill is hard to take, even moreso with everyone thinking im a sucker. So the way I see it, I have three options here, and keep in mind I really want to keep this car:

1) Actually Justify this expense. Im willing to assume the sales guy was just having an off day if someone can give me a valid explanation (with backup) of what exactly happens during a "B" service.

2) find a competitor in Edmonton - not Weber motors, they collude with DMFA (speculation based on the fact that they sometimes do trade shows and events together as one unit). Someone like a lubex or a mom&pop shop that can do warranty approved work. then I can shut everyone up :)

3) sell the car and buy something less embarrassing and expensive to maintain.

I shudder to think how much my brakes are going to cost the first time I get them done....

So, does anyone know of a lubex or some other place that will service smarts in the edmonton area? I Guarantee they will get not only my business, but the business of anyone I can convince that owns a smart.

I'm even willing to travel here: If there is someplace in red deer or Calgary that is significantly cheaper it would be worth the savings to do the drive down to get it done.

Help me keep my smart!

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I bought my own oil extractor for my diesel smart, I purchase the oil filter from MB and the EU Blend 0/40 from the Esso Bulk plant.I just can't justify 400 dollars for a basic oil change when it costs me around 40 dollars too do it my self and it only takes 15 minutes too do the actual oil change.I still love this car but i would sell it in a heartbeat if i could get a decent price for it.

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The problem isn't with the car ---- it's with a few of the unscrupulous dealerships scattered around the continent.

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All I can say SheepRock is : WE NEED A %$#ING SERVICE MANUAL !!!They sell one on CD, but I'm not really into coming into the house to boot up the computer for info.I would also either buy a pump for your oil or do what I did and get an oil pan with a drain plug, and a twist on oil filter kit.Then you can do 90% of your service all for yourself, but for some things you will need a manual with directions and specs.I'ts a SCAM alright, but I'll bet when someone does a book, service costs will drop, second thought............ MB? maybe not.Steve

Edited by Coast Steve

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Why so much??! I thought Mercedes standardized pricing at $120 for an A and $180 for a B service a year after the thing was introduced in Canada.It is a stupid-expensive car to operate in the long run, though, and you can never make it up in fuel savings.-Iain

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Someone should be contacting M-B Canada and the Press if need be about those prices.

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Check other posts on what a proper B service entails - there is a list a page long - that they are supposed to review with you and give you a copy - as well they are supposed to lube things and check for wear - and no it is not supposed to cost that! Mercedes standardized the cost a couple of years ago.

Here is the link - A and B service Costs

Cheers,

Cameron

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The title of this thread is wrong. It's only embarrassing if you go to DMFC for that rip off of a price on what costs less than half of that (<$200 all costs in) in Victoria at TPM. I don't recall reading an endorsement of reasonable service prices at any Alberta M-B dealer, so if you are price-gouging-averse, DIY is the way to overcome your problem.

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Dealerships and warranties are the devil.Here's my cost of ownership, just for comparison, because I read on here almost daily how "bad" of an investment the smart is:Total mileage on car: 77000kmOf which I've driven it for: 62000kmOil Extractor: 80$Oil: (30$ x 8 oil changes) 240$Oil Filters: (10$ x 8) 80$Air Filters: (20$ x 3) 60$Set of brake pads: 55$HIDs (to replace burnt out headlight bulbs): 250$Various other replacement bulbs: 15$ Spare set of Alloys with semi-used tires: 200$Total: 980$Fuel Savings compared to the vehicle it replaced (1996 Ford Ranger 4cyl 5 spd): ~3900$

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I just posted the actual check lists that the dealers are supposed to follow when servicing the 450 smarts here..

When you look at the lists you will see that it would take a good hour to check everything which is keeping in line with an ''A'' service.

The ''B'' service involves taking off the wheels and servicing the brakes (dismantling , cleaning and lube).

I know personally that the work for me to do a proper service will be at least 3 hours.

So, if you don't mind getting dirty and are willing to spend the time you can save yourself a lot of money.

Like booneylander I do my own servicing and know that my smart car has saved me a lot of money over the past 165,000kms, and no other car would be able to take you on a 5,000 km trip for under $200 :D

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I think the first thing I need to do is find out if this is normal or not. If a dealership is breaking the rules and overcharging, all they are doing is hurting the image of the smart in general. Ill paste the response I get from Mercedes Canada when I get it on this thread.I wish I had a garage and the skills to do my own servicing, but even if I did, the car is new. Doing my own servicing will almost certainly void the warranty.As an aside - the bill and the dealer mentioned nothing about actually servicing or lubing anything. brakes were only observed. They even had the audacity to advise me that I had no block heater in the car in the comments section.

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Sounds like a lot is in perception. You say "They even had the audacity to advise me that I had no block heater in the car in the comments section." An audacity to one man is doing you a favour to another. When you hit -30c in a month or so might feel differently about the simple observation that was being conveyed to you. Take it for what it is worth to you, but just don't complain that gee, the car won't start and no one told me I had no block heater. You are in Edmonton man!

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DIY servicing will not "void" the warranty.

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As long as you can document that you did indeed purchase the oil filter and oil and you state you actually did do the oil change at the required interval they can not deny you warranty.If the warranty claim in question is a gray area or just past your warranty date and you did not let them gouge you for oil changes over the years then they most certainly will tell you too get stuffed.I buy my oil filters from MB so they have a record of it and what else would i use this particular oil filter for except for the smart. The money i save doing my own service will pay for something else down the road when MB no doubt says no too a gray area warranty issue.It truly is a shame these cars had too be marketed through a Mercedes dealership and not an independant one.

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Sounds like a lot is in perception. You say "They even had the audacity to advise me that I had no block heater in the car in the comments section." An audacity to one man is doing you a favour to another. When you hit -30c in a month or so might feel differently about the simple observation that was being conveyed to you. Take it for what it is worth to you, but just don't complain that gee, the car won't start and no one told me I had no block heater. You are in Edmonton man!

Sure I am, and if you go to the smart dealer and ask him for a block heater for a smart car, he will tell you that none exists. It could be that they made one now, but it was not communicated to me directly. The only communication at all about this was in the "advice" section of the invoice, which among other things stated "no block heater".Having said that, why warn me in my invoice something that is apparently by design? They cannot punish me for not having one - and this is no excuse to void the warranty on a future issue (why else put it in writing?). If one made specifically for the smart does exist, then damn, I want it!Im not concerned about a frozen car so much as I am that a possible future warranty claim on something like the transmission will be voided because of a defect in design that's my fault somehow, like the lack of a block heater. The car should be able to survive warranty wise out of the box.

As long as you can document that you did indeed purchase the oil filter and oil and you state you actually did do the oil change at the required interval they can not deny you warranty.If the warranty claim in question is a gray area or just past your warranty date and you did not let them gouge you for oil changes over the years then they most certainly will tell you too get stuffed.I buy my oil filters from MB so they have a record of it and what else would i use this particular oil filter for except for the smart. The money i save doing my own service will pay for something else down the road when MB no doubt says no too a gray area warranty issue.It truly is a shame these cars had too be marketed through a Mercedes dealership and not an independant one.

This is good to know. Ill have to find someone with a garage now :) is this in writing anywhere, that the warranty wont be voided with DIY? and what about the "b" service? how do you prove that you looked at things?I wrote to mercedes about this. If they can give me a reason for the cost that makes sense ill be ok with the expense, but I'll probably try to find a lubex anyway, unless of course I just buckle down and learn to do an oil change for my next A service :)It bothers me to think that alot of people might be being ripped off here, let alone that Im being laughed at because of it.One more thing - they didn't do any brake work, lube or anything. There is no mention of work on an invoice relating to the brakes, and the advice section simply says "brake fluid due" which I only noticed yesterday, about a week after I had it done. The service rep said nothing. Smart142 suggested that this might be the case (at least for the 450, but I'm in a 451)

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The fixed-price for A/B services died the month after it was "introduced". Dealerships charge what the traffic will bear. Alberta smart centres are notorious for over-pricing. I suppose that's what you get for being a "have" province :dunno:

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Ya, DMFC is definitely NOT the place to go for regular servicing.Last summer I had my car in for warranty work. They replaced the head as valve seats were leaking. I have done most of the servicing myself, with one or two dealer services. While it was in, it was due for an A service. So I had them do it, and they charged me for the oil and the whole inspection, even though I'm sure they had to replace the oil for the head replacement anyway. So really they were "Double dipping" by getting paid from me and smart Canada for the same oil, and probably for a lot of the time. I wasn't in town when the car was picked up, so I didn't get a chance to say "What the heck?"Anyway, my next B service I was in Vancouver so I had Eddy do it. I'm out of warranty in 6K kms. Hopefully I won't have to give the dealer's anymore money. Unless I happen to be on Vancouver Island. I would take the car to TPM. Heck, I could almost pay for the ferry from Prince Rupert with the money I would save from not travelling to Edmonton and paying DMFC.

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Yeah my "A" service was $225. Our Toyotas have cost $40-$60 for the same service. Yes, the service at MB was better but I don't know if it's really worth 4-6x the cost. It could be mostly labour too. Maybe MB design their cars that don't have easily accessible parts so it takes longer to do a job.

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Yeah my "A" service was $225. Our Toyotas have cost $40-$60 for the same service. Yes, the service at MB was better but I don't know if it's really worth 4-6x the cost. It could be mostly labour too. Maybe MB design their cars that don't have easily accessible parts so it takes longer to do a job.

Even when i go slow the oil change takes 15 minutes TOPS !!!, another half hour too look at all the various things that need too be looked at.Thats 45 minutes. Ok add in a coffee break and it's an hour..The price MB charges here is absolutely insane!!!!They insist on having the car ALL DAY too help justify the cost!?They do a quick wash and hope you don't notice the scratches in the paint that weren't there when you dropped it off and send you on your way.I love this little car But i truly wish it DID NOT have a mercedes engine.Thats the worst thing that ever happened to this wonderful little car !! In my own biased opinion of coarse.MB is the reason i will probably eventually sell this car and get something japanese.

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Heck... Mercedes will even put AQUAPEL on your windshield for ONLY $24.99 ...will last 4-6 monthsSounds alot like RAIN X to me.It is Great stuff but you can get a bottle @ CTC for $9.99 ...enough to last 3-4 years for your smart!!DIY is probably the best way to save money in todays world.EVERYBODY wants your hard earned $$$$$$$$$$E.B.

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They do a quick wash and hope you don't notice the scratches in the paint that weren't there when you dropped it off and send you on your way.

Ah yes, I forgot about that. I had that experience from both dealers in Edmonton. The last time I had it at DMFC, they gave me grief about it too. He said something about, "You're not going to complain about scratches again are you?" So obviously they had a note on file about me. I replied something about it had been all scratched up from the dealers already that I wasn't worried about it anymore.

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I too have the oil extractor and pretty much do all of my own repairs. The icing on the cake for me wasn't the cost of the "B" Service at Star Motors on Hunt Club in Ottawa as I knew what it was going to be before I made the appointment; it was the extra quart of 5W30 synthetic oil that was added and clearly identified as 5W30 synthetic on the paperwork. If I wish to sabotage my engine I can do it at home and for much less $$$. Is this the same service that Mercedes owners are getting at Star Motors? Same technicians, just different cars. Owners beware!Cappytanjack ...

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Just a heads up that Ive been in touch with Mercedes regarding this and they've responded. Ive replied asking for details to their response. Once I get it ill post the entire thing for reference.

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OK I heard from, and am satisfied with, the correspondence with Mercedes: Initial letter:

Comment or Question: I just had my car "B" serviced at David Morris Fine Autos in Edmonton.For an oil change and a reminder that I didn't have a block heater in my car (?!?) they charged me $457.70.They specifically said they don't do anything but an oil change and a visual inspection. Bill even mentions I need brake fluid but that it wasn't done. I complained, and the manager called me to tell me basically the same thing. I did not get a check list of what they did after the work was complete. What I want to know is that if these prices are normal. Are there guidelines given out by the head office to have quality control on work and pricing? As it stands now, im a laughing stock of everyone I dared to tell this to, and all of the reasons I have for owning one have just been mitigated by the embarrassingly high cost of a simple oil change. For comparison, a mitsubishi servicing does and oil change, tire rotation, clean the car, and provides an actual check list to the user. Cost: $168.00. I recognize that smart cars require more love than normal cars, but this is ridiculous.Happy to provide all paperwork, and myself and several members of the forum at clubsmartcar.ca are eager for a response either justifying why this location charges hundreds of dollars more for the same work as other places, or alternate places to go that won't void the warranty. One more thing: Will installing a scanguage void the warranty? I installed one last winter so that I could both track my miles (for work) and to keep a guage on the water temperature during freezing conditions - this in combination with a lack of block heater makes it obvious that the smart is very clearly not built for Canadian winters, but I digress - making sure the water temperature is good before you head out helps keep the car happy, in my humble opinion.Thanks in advance for your comprehensive response. Despite my frustration, I want to thank you for creating such a fun car to drive.VIN: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Their Response:

Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX:Thank you for your email.We are sorry to learn of your disappointment regarding the maintenancecharges for the ‘B-service’ of your smart.smart Canada has recommended fixed maintenance pricing to our smart Centresnationwide. With that being said, please note that individual smart Centrelocations, such as privately owned dealerships, may adjust their labour andmaintenance rates based on local market conditions. The service chargewill include the cost of parts, labour, and any additional work that isrequired.Upon receipt of your email, we contacted the service manager at DavidMorris Fine Cars, Mr. XXXXXXXXXX and requested information on the serviceperformed on your smart during your recent visit. It is our understandingthat the service included the removal of all under panels and inspectedsuspension and body components, replace air filter, performed majorservice, removed all wheel and balance, perform test with smart diagnosticsystem to make sure that your vehicle is operating within specification.The prices quoted in your email appear to be inline with what most smartdealers charge for ‘B-service’.Mr. XXXXXXXXX further informed us that you expressed disappointment with thecharges during the service follow up call; therefore he contacted youdirectly and as a gesture of goodwill offered to cover your next servicefree of charge. We regret that this offer was not to your satisfaction.Regarding the installation of the scan gauge please be advised that shouldthere be any electrical failure caused by the installation of this feature,the failed components will not be covered by your new factory warranty.Thank you for contacting us and allowing us to investigate your concerns.Best regards,

My Reply:

Im happy to hear that future electrical problem failures need to be causedby the scan gauge before the warranty is considered invalid.A Free "A" service oil change is nice, but knowledge of what they do to mycar is better. Im ok with spending money so long as its justified.As it stands now, the smart is a laughing stock to anyone I dare tell thestory to. The prices charged by the dealer might actually hurt thereputation of the car locally, as others like me who might not be willingto discuss the issue with you guys simply talk down the car in privatecircles instead. If the dealer can literally charge any amounthe wants that’s fine - he just lost my business by pricinghimself out of the market - capitalism in action. The fun and gimmickfactors just aren't worth it. So much for possibly buying a second one forpersonal use from him. It appears I'm not alone in this:http://clubsmartcar.com/index.php?showtopic=19477&st=0Since the car has a built-in counter that reminds the driver with wrencheswhen they need service and what type, I fell under the impression thatthere were enforced guidelines for the dealers to follow, at least in termsof what these services entail, if not the price. I guess I should haveasked before I bought the car. The forum and fellow smart owners tellstories that vary from my own experience - people getting replacementheadlights free of charge, being provided a checklist of what was actuallydone in the shop, etc. One person even claimed to get a visual inspectionwith his "A" service. Since there appears to be no enforced standards, Ino longer know what a "B" service gets me, and so I see little point inpaying over $450 dollars for one, or any amount for that matter. If notpaying for a seemingly ambiguous service that doesn't fall under anyguidelines somehow invalidates the warranty, please explain how. If Imisunderstood this entirely and there are in fact specifics to a "B"service that has to be done by the dealer - each and every dealer - pleaseexplain what. If there are is in fact a "B" service checklist, then am Irequired to deal specifically with a smart car dealer to get it done?I want to thank you for your continued attention in this matter. I'mcertain it's more miscommunication than anything, but when I don’t get achecklist of what was done and instead get the advice section on my invoicesaying things like "no block heater" (I'm still laughing about this one) or"lighter missing" I start to question the quality of the workmanship.I would rather be a bee in your bonnet and ask questions then get mad, sellthe car, and bash it to everyone I know out of ignorance. I hope you agree.Thanks again,

Their Reply:

Thank you for acknowledging our response to your email.For information on what the service intervals entail, please review pages66 to 83 of your smart Service booklet.As a goodwill gesture, your smart dealer with the support of Mercedes-Benzof Canada has offered to replace any burnt out headlight bulbs on yoursmart for up to 2 years or 40.000km whichever occurs first. This offerapplies to all smart customers.Regarding the issue raised in your email on maintaining your smart at anon-smart facility; we strongly recommend that all maintenance services beperformed at an authorized smart dealership. Nevertheless, it is youroption to have your vehicle serviced at the facility of your choice,although warranty repairs can only be performed by an authorized smartdealership. If the vehicle's maintenance services are performed outsidethe smart dealer network, we strongly recommend that you keep a detailedrecord of all work performed, including invoices. Should your vehiclerequire warranty repairs, a smart dealer will require proof that themaintenance services have been performed according to the manufacturer'sspecifications using the recommended and approved OEM parts.Thank you for taking the time to write.Regards,

So there it is. Mercedes responded quickly and kindly to my emails. I don't hold any fault towards the smart or Mercedes. In fact, I feel even more comfortable with my purchase now that I've spoken with them directly about this.If the B-service was something more than a visual inspection and oil change Id be OK, but as it stands now I'm just paying them to find ways to charge me more money.So, Ill be at lubex if you need me, until I can learn to do it myself. DMFC just lost a customer until they clean up their act. It a pity too - I would really much prefer to use them instead of some third party, but the money I'll save from a single service to get the same thing done will probably be enough to feed me for at least a month. 'Nuff said.

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It is really too bad there are no smart friendly independent mechanics to take your car to in your area.

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