My SO bought herself a VW "City" Jetta in 2007. For the record, I didn't have any influence in that particular purchase.
Anyhow...it recently had its 96000km service. The maintenance schedule doesn't call for a timing belt until 180000km--longer than most vehicles, I'll admit.
Of course, the local dealer has there own "recommended" service schedule that includes liberal use of various additives and conditioners for nearly everything (no thanks) and a timing belt at 96000km. When pressed on the timing belt, they recommend it to be done between 100-120k (with the standard inclusion of a water pump because you're in there anyways), rather than the manufacturer's recommended 180k. One of the reasons given is:
"Because the water pumps don't last--the impeller is plastic and it falls apart." (As it turns out, this "feature" of the water pump is well-documented on the forums)
"So, would you be replacing the water pump with an updated design?"
"No, VW sends us the same one."
I shake head.
FWIW, a local independent shop tells me that the timing belts are also prone to early failure.
Now, I can see that they'd want to squeeze out a $1000 service as often as possible, and I do appreciate the value of preventative maintenance when there is a known defect, but it's hard not to be irritated when they plan to install the same shitty part. Of course, Honda owners went through this for a long time with the regulator/rectifiers, and I'm sure there are many similar occurrences out there.
So, the SO is just ecstatic to know that timing belt service will cost a grand (although that'll probably turn into parts + my labour, although I hate working on the car--even an oil change is a chore) and they tell her that the secondary air injection pump is toast ($780--again, much cheaper to do at home, and might even be repairable for a few bucks worth of screws and silicone).
The point of my ramblings:
-don't drop your vehicle off blindly at any shop without clarifying that you want to stick with the manufacturer's recommended services. Luckily, I did the drop-off and was very specific.
-frugal people shouldn't buy a new VW when they've been used to paying to maintain a base-model Civic that didn't even have power-steering
-can anyone recommend a good independent import shop in the valley for the stuff I don't want to do in the driveway?
I'd guess that these "dealer-recommended" services are everywhere--maybe m/c shops, too?