Greetings once again from The Car Inspector. A few months back I was dispatched to University Cadillac in Pembroke Pines, Florida to inspect a 1995 Cadillac Seville. The dealership had reported that the water pump and transmission side cover gasket were leaking.
I first verified that the water pump was indeed leaking. Next I noted that there was clean pink transmission fluid dripping off of the transmission side cover. I noted that there was no road debris in the fluid stains and no blow back onto the crossmember or undercarraige. I also noted that there was pink transmission fluid on top of the transmission and brake lines.
When I checked the level and condition of the actual fluid inside the transmission, I noted that the fluid was full and it was light brown in color from age.
Before making any accusations, I asked the technician what was leaking. He pointed to the fresh clean pink transmission fluid dripping from the side cover and stated that the side cover gasket is leaking. Basically, he was proclaiming that this dirty transmission was leaking clean transmission fluid. As I think we can all agree, this is not possible. The technician was trying to get paid for work he was not going to do. The scam works like this: The technician tells the service advisor that the gasket is leaking. The service advisor, taking the word of the technician, tells the customer or warranty company that there is a leak.
In this case, replacement of this gasket requires about 11 hours in labor and $25.00 for the gasket. At $75.00 per hour, this works out to $850.00 in parts and labor. Once the owner or the warranty company authorizes the repair, the technician simply cleans the transmission fluid off of the transmission and puts the brand new gasket in the garbage or in his tool box. The technician spents 15 minutes cleaning off the transmission fluid and then gets paid for 11 hours of work.
Please understand, most dealerships pay the mechanics a flat rate. That means that the mechanic gets paid for the number of hours he turns in, regardless of how many hours he actually works. In the case above, the mechanic turns in a ticket for 11 hours but only spent 15 minutes on the "repair". It is this method of pay that allows many technicians to clock in 70-100 hours or more of work in a single week while actually only putting in about 40 hours of real time.