Autobahn Motors, Belmont CA - avoid at all costs

campskunk

Member
as a fulltime RVer i get services done wherever i happen to be, so i've never used the same dealer twice in my ten 10k services on my 2013 3500 NCV3. 100k rolled around as i was coming up the Pacific Coast Highway, so i started trying to find a shop in the Bay area, and Autobahn Motors gave me an appointment within a week even with the AEM crunch, so i thought great, how bad can it be? it turned out to be very bad.

service writer was chatty and seemed to be OK, but we sat in the waiting room from 8 AM until 2 PM, when i get a text on my phone - $9000 estimate for a service B plus "stuff they found". the mechanic and service writer claimed they "couldn't find records" of the 80k big service, so they wanted to redo the trans, differential, brake, and belt services, plus replace all pads and rotors, center driveshaft bearing, and a seal on the intercooler. talking to the service writer was unproductive - i couldn't get any information out of him about what was wrong specifically. he kept saying the center driveshaft bearing was "cracked". bearings don't crack. they spin, they burn up. but they don't "crack". service writer couldn't elaborate on how this bearing had "cracked". i said i need to talk to someone else. manager shows up, immediately provides additional information (with photos). the "cracked bearing" is a small crack starting in the rubber support for the center driveshaft bearing, so the mechanic's proposed solution was to take it all apart, replace just the bearing, and reassemble it for $2000 - when the dealer probably has $1000 OEM rebuilt driveshafts in stock. the estimate was an blatant effort on the mechanic's part to provide him with as many hours as possible.

i told the manager that i had worked at a Mercedes dealership 40 years ago as a mechanic. so stop blowing smoke up my ass. he pulled up the VMI and we went over it, probably technically illegal to show this to a customer but i had said to him that if the dealership that did the 80k had smoked the service i was going to make inquiries, and his employees were telling me that this was in fact the case. he immediately started doing the backstroke. there on the vmi was the trans, power steering, differential, and other 80k service items, all done on schedule. oops. i had replaced all belts, pulleys, and tensioners myself, three months ago, as preventative maintenance, so he allowed as how that too was unnecessary. he said he was "going to have to talk" to the service writer and mechanic about this. yeah, that would be a good idea.

the intercooler seal was legit and only $100 so I authorized that and front pads (down to 4 mm) for a mere $580, and said give me my van back. $2000 for the service B (priced at $1300 - they charge about $1000 for service A), front pads, and an intercooler seal. and another $7000 in unnecessary work on the estimate that i would have gotten stuck with if i hadn't refused to take the service writer and mechanic's word for things. i realize this is the closest dealership to silicon valley, and they're used to people with money to throw around, but this is the most egregious abuse of customers that i've ever seen. don't go to this dealership unless you're getting towed in.
 
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borabora

Well-known member
Doesn't really surprise me. This MO seems to be common at Mercedes dealerships. I now go to Mercedes at Fremont and so far have had good experiences.
 
as a fulltime RVer i get services done wherever i happen to be, so i've never used the same dealer twice in my ten 10k services on my 2013 3500 NCV3. 100k rolled around as i was coming up the Pacific Coast Highway, so i started trying to find a shop in the Bay area, and Autobahn Motors gave me an appointment within a week even with the AEM crunch, so i thought great, how bad can it be? it turned out to be very bad.

service writer was chatty and seemed to be OK, but we sat in the waiting room from 8 AM until 2 PM, when i get a text on my phone - $9000 estimate for a service B plus "stuff they found". the mechanic and service writer claimed they "couldn't find records" of the 80k big service, so they wanted to redo the trans, differential, brake, and belt services, plus replace all pads and rotors, center driveshaft bearing, and a seal on the intercooler. talking to the service writer was unproductive - i couldn't get any information out of him about what was wrong specifically. he kept saying the center driveshaft bearing was "cracked". bearings don't crack. they spin, they burn up. but they don't "crack". service writer couldn't elaborate on how this bearing had "cracked". i said i need to talk to someone else. manager shows up, immediately provides additional information (with photos). the "cracked bearing" is a small crack starting in the rubber support for the center driveshaft bearing, so the mechanic's proposed solution was to take it all apart, replace just the bearing, and reassemble it for $2000 - when the dealer probably has $1000 OEM rebuilt driveshafts in stock. the estimate was an blatant effort on the mechanic's part to provide him with as many hours as possible.

i told the manager that i had worked at a Mercedes dealership 40 years ago as a mechanic. so stop blowing smoke up my ass. he pulled up the VMI and we went over it, probably technically illegal to show this to a customer but i had said to him that if the dealership that did the 80k had smoked the service i was going to make inquiries, and his employees were telling me that this was in fact the case. he immediately started doing the backstroke. there on the vmi was the trans, power steering, differential, and other 80k service items, all done on schedule. oops. i had replaced all belts, pulleys, and tensioners myself, three months ago, as preventative maintenance, so he allowed as how that too was unnecessary. he said he was "going to have to talk" to the service writer and mechanic about this. yeah, that would be a good idea.

the intercooler seal was legit and only $100 so I authorized that and front pads (down to 4 mm) for a mere $580, and said give me my van back. $2000 for the service B (priced at $1300 - they charge about $1000 for service A), front pads, and an intercooler seal. and another $7000 in unnecessary work on the estimate that i would have gotten stuck with if i hadn't refused to take the service writer and mechanic's word for things. i realize this is the closest dealership to silicon valley, and they're used to people with money to throw around, but this is the most egregious abuse of customers that i've ever seen. don't go to this dealership unless you're getting towed in.
Sorry to hear about your experience with AutoBahn, but it is not surprising. Just an FYI, this dealership is not the “closest dealership to Silicon Valley.” Generally speaking San Jose is the Silicon Valley epicenter and they are over 30 miles away. There are actually 2 MB dealerships in San Jose. Of the two I recommend MB of San Jose. There are also 4-5 other MB dealers scattered throughout the Bay Area (Fremont, Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Marin etc).

If you ever roll back through the area my rec is to head north to MB of Santa Rosa. By far one of the best around. Not sure why AutoBahn is so FUBAR, but my sentiment mirrors yours. I’d drive 100+ miles to MB Santa Rosa then ever go to AutoBahn.
 

campskunk

Member
i called santa rosa, they were snowed under and talking October for a Service B appointment (this was a month ago). i'm a fulltime RVer with extended boondocking capabilities - my normal m.o. is to sneak into town 3 times a month or so to get water, dump wastewater, and shop for groceries. then it's back out until i run out of something important (wife likes doughnuts). the rest of the time i'm as far from civilization as possible. the whole bay area is a gauntlet i run on my way up and down the pacific coast highway, although i do like to overnight at the vista point at the north end of the golden gate bridge. very scenic.
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I had that issue with MB Santa Rosa and explained I was limited on time and coming from 100+ miles. Was placed on hold and few minutes later then squeezed me in. Worth a shot on your next dealer service. Just PM me if you you need a few Bay Area donut shop recommendations. Stay safe!
 

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