How long does it take to do these jobs?

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How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby djcat [OP] » March 19th 2017, 10:14am

Hi all,

I posted on here back in December (I think) about an Astro Van that I just bought here in the Netherlands. It is imported from Japan where such vans apparently have an easy and pampered life as cult cars and the totally like new rust free underbody looks like it confirms this theory.

Long story short, I paid good money cash for it to an importer of American cars who said he got a specialist mechanic as well and that the car would come fully registered, taxed, government inspected (a very bureaucratic process to import a car here...) and with a full service. Because it was base spec and didn't even have a radio, I ordered a few things to be installed in it that the importer said are all pretty straightforward and all in all it wouldn't cost too much to do. I did so because I just have no time to do anything myself and I wanted to have it done before the arrival of my second child in May.

Unfortunately about three months later the car is still not ready, I understand we had Christmas in the meantime and that importing from out of the EU is a long process but I fear he might want to take a few bucks too many out of my pocket. I told him to call me if any of the things I had ordered would turn out to be more complicated to install but he did not and on our last call he said that the stuff I had ordered would take another week to do and especially the tow bar (trailer hook) and alarm took a few days :shock: longer than expected and that my extra costs are beyond 1000 Euros by now. :shock: :shock: :shock:

Hence I do appreciate if you could please let me know how long it would take a competent professional mechanic and a professional electrician to install the following:

- A tow bar (trailer hook) purpose made for an Astro Van (coming with instructions) and electrics for the trailer
- Rear gas shocks
- A Pioneer AVH-X7800BT Moniceiver radio with Metra 99-3002 Dash Kit For GM Truck And Van 95-05
- Rear drive camera (engaged when reversing)
- Viper 5105V Car Security System
- A MICTUNING 22 Inch 120W-Curved Cree LED Light Bar Combo Off Road Lamp w/ 12FT Roc behind the grille
- A block heater
- A set of Osram LED fog lights


I understand it is work to install what I ordered, but I am surprised that someone who said he is competent and experienced in Chevy vans apparently got caught by surprise by installing a tow bar and an alarm system, both of which he said took a day longer than expected without calling me about it :confused:

I am just confused if the guy is taking me for a ride or if it is "just" a case of biting off more than he could chew and appreciate your input of expected installation time for the above mentioned parts. I am not looking for exact times but time frames e.g. part XYZ should take between 2 and 4 hours: part ABC 4 to 6 etc....Thanks for your help!
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby AstroWill » March 19th 2017, 10:53am

djcat wrote:Hence I do appreciate if you could please let me know how long it would take a competent professional mechanic and a professional electrician to install the following:

- A tow bar (trailer hook) purpose made for an Astro Van (coming with instructions) and electrics for the trailer
- Rear gas shocks
- A Pioneer AVH-X7800BT Moniceiver radio with Metra 99-3002 Dash Kit For GM Truck And Van 95-05
- Rear drive camera (engaged when reversing)
- Viper 5105V Car Security System
- A MICTUNING 22 Inch 120W-Curved Cree LED Light Bar Combo Off Road Lamp w/ 12FT Roc behind the grille
- A block heater
- A set of Osram LED fog lights



Apparently a few months, give or take a month or three. ;)

30min for a trailer hitch, extra 30 for the wiring unless you are also adding an electric brake controller.
Shocks are 30-40min
30min for radio including soldering the adapter.
rear camera would depend greatly on the routing, I would guess at least an hr.
security system 2 to 6hrs depending on options.
don't know about the light bar, but probably a couple hours
block heater, a little longer than a freeze plug, so 40min
fog lights, 30-90min depending on how they are installed

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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby djcat [OP] » March 19th 2017, 12:40pm

Thanks for your reply.

wow looks like I have really been taken for a ride...I will definitely talk to the guy, I have thought it wouldn't take that long by my past experience.

Worst case scenario could I count on twice that time? Anyone else thinks the stuff I asked this competent professional experienced mechanic is not that difficult to install even if some of the stuff is a little unusual to him?
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby Lumpy » March 19th 2017, 1:09pm

I'm not sure I follow your concern.

You think you've been "taken for a ride" because the install of all those parts and aftermarket systems is taking one day longer than expected?

In my experience, aftermarket alarms are the most labor intensive, creative problem solving jobs in the world. These vans were not meant to have that system installed. Finding this and that wire that may or may not be the expected color or in the expected place, etc.

"Competent professional mechanic" - Regardless of his competency level, he's working on a car that hasn't been made in 10-20-30 years and apparently extremely rare in your country. That and "professional mechanics" aren't particularly trained in installing aftermarket alarms. Any estimates that HE could give you are based on guessing but not knowing the van much at all.

"Professional electrician" - Might be different there, but in the US, an electrician doesn't work on cars. They work on buildings. Perhaps there's a difference there.


Once you take posession of this van, will you be doing the service and preventative maintenance on it or will an out$ide mechanic be doing that all the time?


Lump

EDIT:
I re-read and see that he's now charging you for the additional time. Not knowing what your original agreement was, consider that you've given him/them a laundry list of add-ons. Much or all of the labor you're paying for is more than the cost of the item you're installing. Paying someone ELSE to do that kind of non-specific work on a new and unfamiliar vehicle is filled with time wasting problems. Here in the US, a car stereo installer could probably install an alarm and stereo in a couple hours for a relatively small cost. I wouldn't dream of taking it to a specialty mechanic for something like that.

I guess my bottom line here is that it sounds like you've made about the most expensive choice in getting some general work done. And now it's, predictably, expensive. I can't imagine that the guy is deliberatly stretching out the work just to keep this old car that needs a light bar around in his shop. He'd surely want to get more predictable repair jobs in and out than have a project car sitting around taking up space.

How about doing some of that work yourself? That will relieve some grief that's guaranteed to surface in the future every time you feel the need to pay someone for general work.
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby chevy57bert » March 19th 2017, 1:55pm

Seems to me they only want to sell cars.. but a little extra work no..
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby Mmusicman » March 19th 2017, 2:14pm

Let me take a stab at it. Bear in mind that time lengths can vary greatly, depending on whether you do the same thing every day for a living (professional)... or doing it as a novice/amateur. I'm going to estimate what I think would be real-world times if I had to do it, or was going to charge someone as a service (estimating somewhere in between):
2 hrs - A tow bar (trailer hook) purpose made for an Astro Van (coming with instructions) and electrics for the trailer
30 min - Rear gas shocks
1 hr - A Pioneer AVH-X7800BT Moniceiver radio with Metra 99-3002 Dash Kit For GM Truck And Van 95-05
2 hr - Rear drive camera (engaged when reversing)
4 hr - Viper 5105V Car Security System
2 hr - A MICTUNING 22 Inch 120W-Curved Cree LED Light Bar Combo Off Road Lamp w/ 12FT Roc behind the grille
2 hr - A block heater
1 hr - A set of Osram LED fog lights


Mind you, I'm probably being someone generous with the times, assuming much of the work would be spend figuring it out, figuring out what tools would be needed, doing it for the first time.

I used to install car alarms and stereos, and know that the work can be done quicker by someone who does it professionally... so I think my times are fair. The alarm also depends on how extensive it is.. how many options are installed... so it could take longer too.

The tow bar could probably go much quicker.. there really isn't much to it. I actually used to swap a bar from from one van to another for trips... it took me 5 minutes. Wiring the lights would take a bit more time... but there are ONLY 4 wires that typically hook to 1 location, with the possibility of 1 addl location. In other words... if a friend rolled up into my driveways.. we'd probably have the bar in, wired and done in about 2 hours total. If I had a shop... probably 30 minutes. But as a shop, I might charge for 2 hours time... it just depends.

We don't have block heaters in Florida.. so my time was a guess. Some of the others were too. I may be under on the camera, since I don't know what's really involved. Lighting is usually pretty straight forward. Realistically, shocks could take all of about 5 minutes to do... 10 min tops. I gave 30.

Electronics can be difficult for some, and easy for others. Installing things like fog lights and light bars "should" be a snap.. it's pretty basic. But if it's not something you normally do.. something this simple can take more time.

Lumpy summed it up well:
"Competent professional mechanic" - Regardless of his competency level, he's working on a car that hasn't been made in 10-20-30 years and apparently extremely rare in your country. That and "professional mechanics" aren't particularly trained in installing aftermarket alarms. Any estimates that HE could give you are based on guessing but not knowing the van much at all.


Well that's my "quick and rough" estimate.. with a little extra rolled in to cover. I may have missed a detail or two, so I could be off. Dealerships are in business to make money! They make it convenient for you to do it all in one place.. even though they are not necessarily the experts! You could shop around and take it to different professionals and possibly save money... but you'd likely spend a lot more time and travel too.

Finally, what was the deal? Was it a a "quote" with room to add more if needed? I know in professional business, we often times "ate it" if we guessed wrong on how much time it would take. If he had trouble with say, the towbar... perhaps he ordered the wrong towbar and wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out or make it fit. His mistake. Sometimes we could get extra if warranted, but usually not. It really depends on the original work agreement.

Bottom line: It sounds to me like they may not be competent and professional in the service world.. but they are good at making a sale! Now we will see how good they are at getting extra money from you. But dealing with an "Importer"... I'd say the rules may be different.. since they may have to deal with many different issues, not typical.

Good luck.
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby djcat [OP] » March 19th 2017, 8:32pm

Thanks for your replies, I appreciate your input. Imagine all the reasons that one can have for going to a dealership to buy a car and do a service and installation, all of them you can guess are the reasons I told him to do it.

We agreed on an Astro Van in excellent condition that he had in his massive, football field sized showroom full of US vans - half of them Astro Vans imported from all over the world. Included in the deal would be conversion to camper van according to Dutch taxation law, meaning he would have to cut the roof to install a flip up tent. He does that on a regular basis, on top of that he does other electrical and mechanical work that includes tow bar installations and high end media (radio and TV) sets making those Astro vans he got in the showroom look like executive jets including the leather seats. I would expect him to have the competence to install all the parts I ask him to install, on top of that he said himself it looks like a straightforward job. I specifically told him to call me if anything would take an hour longer than expected and he did not call at all.

I understand the alarm system is unusual over here, but the most I ever heard was eight hours top. I emailed the manufacturer of the tow bar and got a very quick response:

"The towbar is held onto the chassis by 3 bolts on each side. These bolts attach to existing holes and match the bumper mount bolts that are already there. On occasions, larger bumpers mean that some work is required to cut the bumper, but that should take no more than 1 hour at the most. I cannot explain why it took so long to fit this towbar."

It is made to fit spot on on an Astro Van...

I understand that what I asked for is work, I did not expect a cheap quote. I understand he got a family to feed but so do I and I am still his customer, to tell me three months later that I am well over a thousand Euros BEYOND the expected given the above is not acceptable in my book.
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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby RECox286 » March 19th 2017, 11:11pm

Some things, like an alarm system, can be more hassle than it is worth. Alternative solutions

like a hidden, yet within easy reach "kill" switch to disable the fuel pump or ignition system

are a way to save money while retaining the truck to your personal use. If you feel a need for

a greater level of security, there are inexpensive solutions such as a sticker you can affix to a

window touting that the truck actually has a wired system. Too, there is a device that looks

like a gigantic bicycle padlock to limit the turning radius of the steering wheel...

Just my :2:

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Re: How long does it take to do these jobs?

Postby Lumpy » March 20th 2017, 12:39am

djcat wrote:
...he does other electrical and mechanical work that includes tow bar installations and high end media (radio and TV) sets making those Astro vans he got in the showroom look like executive jets including the leather seats...



In that case, it should look great.

Every Mexican shop in Phoenix does that while you wait.


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