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The other thread about why you wouldn't take your car to a dealership hit close to home and I didn't want to hijack that thread so I'm starting one.

First question, how do you guys find/research a good dealership to take your car to for service, other than word of mouth of course?

I found a decent website I've posted reviews to and read reviews about specific dealerships but some dealerships can be "Certified" which screams conflict of interest to me. The site can still be informative though. It's Car Dealer Reviews, Dealership Ratings, Cars For Sale - DealerRater.com

Second question, do any of you know/trust any good dealerships in SE Houston area? My home dealer is Star Toyota but just went through an experience with them that makes me not want to use them.
 

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Word of mouth.
DealerRater and other review sites can easily be manipulated. Figure it is in their interest for their own sales and shop staff to post favorable reviews.

I just checked out two dealers in the DFW area I know suck, and everyone I have spoken to about them agrees. They both have 4+ stars on DealerRater and Yahoo Reviews.

I posted a complaint on DealerRater, and the sight shared my email address. The dealer contacted me to offer to comp some stuff in exchange for me removing the review. They were not offering to change their dodgy up-selling of unneeded services in a manner that implied they were required for warranty, merely offering me a credit to stay quiet about it.
 

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After something like 30 years of bad dealings with dealers (various manufacturers) I gave up on dealerships for anything but warrantee work. For regular service and repairs I have been fortunate enough to find good private shops that offer excellent service and stand behind their work. No they aren't the cheapest, but quality work is worth more than discount prices.

YMMV,
Dave
 

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I think one important thing that you have to do is develop a relationship with the service manager. Basically kiss his ass and try to become friends with him. I haven't personally done this but I have a friend who has and he has good luck. He is always getting better deals and treatment because of it. Probably wont work with everyone but its worth a shot.
 

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Well,

Mostly I got lucky with my local dealer, Findlay Toyota.

Secondly, enthusiasts. One of the sales managers pimps a highly modified 4Runner, can't remember his name right now. The service department carries a slew of off road equipment such as ARB and Icon Vehicle Dynamics. I do see a very nice FJ70 in their showroom as well. I think they are pretty high volume so their prices are a bit better than the rest in the area.

Experience. I brought my truck in for the 5K service and they identified the rear shock was leaking. I have a 2.5/1 level and they didn't blink an eye on replacement. I also had discolored grab handles and they took care of that without question as well. They did the recall on the AIP thing straight out. So all and all, not bad.

I think the test is the small stuff and see how they handle it. Trial and error I suppose. I get a good feeling there and would buy a new vehicle from them again, and I will continue to use their service department.

I see stories of oil being left out and what not. My take on that, they did it, they are obligated to fix it. I do it in my driveway, I get questioned on everything. Besides, I don't want to work on my truck. I'd rather work on other things.
 

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Anyone is SoCal please post up a good Toyota dealer for service. I've heard Buena Park is good. They are part of AutoNation though and overall I've heard nothing but bad stories from this corp.
 

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The other thread about why you wouldn't take your car to a dealership hit close to home and I didn't want to hijack that thread so I'm starting one.

First question, how do you guys find/research a good dealership to take your car to for service, other than word of mouth of course?

I found a decent website I've posted reviews to and read reviews about specific dealerships but some dealerships can be "Certified" which screams conflict of interest to me. The site can still be informative though. It's Car Dealer Reviews, Dealership Ratings, Cars For Sale - DealerRater.com

Second question, do any of you know/trust any good dealerships in SE Houston area? My home dealer is Star Toyota but just went through an experience with them that makes me not want to use them.
I go to as many sources as I can. Most are bias but at least some input is better than none. Only you can decide if it is true or not. Examples: BBB, DealerRater, Google, Yelp, Yahoo etc.

Some of the things that you may find interesting are that DealerRater and BBB will often report the exact opposite of each other. There is so much lying on these webs sites, just don’t believe everything. I have a tiny amount more trust in BBB than DealerRater.

Also, if you have friends and relatives in the area they might be another source for brands you are looking into.

We recently moved to a new area, so finding a new dealer that is a good dealer can be a very challenging process. I understand that no one wants to go on “blind faith” alone, so researching as best you can, can pay off in a big way.

Houston: lived there over 40 years. I am not going into detail about bad dealers, there are a few for sure; but I would rate Fred Haas Toyota as one of the best car dealers in the United States (yes I know it’s on the far north side). I purchased 9 new Toyotas from them. At the same time my last new car from them was 2001 so I would hope their service quality is the same.

Also, if you are going to a new dealer for service then talk with the service manger first, explain the problems you have had and the “type” service writer you want etc. Even ask for a quick 5 minute walk through of the shop. You can learn a lot about a dealership just walking and talking through the place; you will see some good and some bad.
 
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