Hooniverse Asks- Has a Repair Shop Ever Made Your Car Worse?

Camaro SS
We’d like to think that when we engage a business – any business – that they know what they are doing. You expect the food in decent restaurants to be tasty, and for that plumber to clear your pipes, but that’s not always the case. And when it comes to car repairs, sometimes a professional shop may not actually be all that professional.
I’ve heard tales of Quickie-Lube’s that have stripped drain plug threads, have forgotten to refill the engine oil before sending the customer on their way, or committed other acts of negligence. Sadly, I’ve also heard of shops that have actively damaged certain customers’ cars in order to gain more business, or just because they were ticked off at the car’s owner. That’s some bad mojo.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of any sort of unfortunate Auto Shoppe behavior, either through lack of their proper care, or through malfeasance? If you have, what happened, and what did you do about it?
Image: TriFive.com

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  1. ConstantReader Avatar

    Oh yeah! First one was back in the 70s. Brought my car in to have the exhaust replaced. Mechanic brought me into to show the gasoline dripping from a bad section of tubing. Said he couldn't work on exhaust because of the danger of a fire when he uses his torch. This said as he is about to light a cigarette standing under my car!
    Next episode was just a few years ago at those three guys place. Forgot their names but their mechanic "Kareem" used a "torque bit" to tighten the lugnuts. A few months later, I went back for brake work. Kareem had over tightened the nuts so badly that they ended up DESTROYING the nuts in the process of removing them. I sent the nuts and a letter to the regional VP. Got free service for a year. I don't trust ANY grease monkey these days. Try to do most things myself, but I hate crawling under cars now.

  2. cabinboy63 Avatar

    I took my wife's car to our local Car-X MANY years ago to have them look at the rear brakes on her Chevy Sprint. They told me the brakes were fine and as I went to drive away there was a terrible grinding noise coming from the rear. Took it right back and had them take it apart while I watched. Nothing seemed wrong until they went to reassemble it and used an impact gun to tighten down the wheel bearings. I took the car to work and replaced the bearings after work. Never went back again.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    Got a quick lube place to do a coolant flush on my car once. Once is imperative here. It was overheating within 15 minutes. In retrospect, I'm sure I should have taken it back and demanded it get done right, but I just took it to another shop to get it done again, by someone more competent, and all was well.

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    The weary clutch of my late Nissan went to Valhall on a family trip. I had bought the car with a huge discount the year prior, among other things because the clutch felt tired – so it was already in the budget.
    After picking up the car, I went to a nearby gas station. Just to buy chocolate without my wife noticing it, ahem. Coming back, there's a huge green stain under the car. The mechanic forgot to get the coolant fluid container back in space.
    What made matters worse: He didn't want to refill the fluid, because then his boss would notice his glip.
    Before that, I just told him "everyone makes mistakes, no harm done". After that, my tone changed … some people are in sore need of a spine.

  5. LTDScott Avatar

    Kinda. My beloved '85 Ford LTD LX was rear ended at a traffic light several years ago. "Thankfully" it was rear ended by a rental car, and in California rental car insurance coverage is required to cover up to $5K in damage to the other vehicle. My car had about $3500 worth of damage, so this law was the only thing that kept my car from being totaled (since Blue Book value was pocket lint at the time). I've since obtained agreed value insurance.
    Anyway, I was looking for a shop that would work with me to fix the damage and repaint the whole car for a decent price out of pocket. I found one that made me a fair deal for what I wanted to do, but they told me it would be a secondary job for them since fleet jobs were their bread and butter, so it'd take a while. Since it was my second car, that was fine for me considering the price I was paying.
    At first the shop kept in contact with me. The right rear quarter panel was pretty munched so the shop elected to have the rear end cut off a donor car for undamaged sheet metal. First, their junkyard source cut the back off a Crown Victoria. Then a week later they cut the back off a Tempo. At that point the shop decided to actually repair the metal, and a friend of mine (who owns my previous LTD) helped source some pieces like tail lights, trunk lid, and bumper filler. Weeks turned into months, and calls about the status of the car were normally met with a response that there had been no work done because they were doing fleet work first, or no response at all. I went to the shop a few times and while I did see progress was made, the shop owner confessed to me that he was having financial problems and needed to do fleet work first.
    One day during the week I decided to call and found the phone number was disconnected. I was at work at the time and decided to just leave immediately to find out what was going on. I got to the shop and found the gate closed and chained shut. The shop was closed and I was just about to go buy some bolt cutters to break my car out when I saw a woman in the back of shop. I called her over, and she turned out to be one of the techs who worked there who also happened to be a friend of one of my co-workers, so she knew about me and my car through talking to my co-worker. She told me she was only there to collect her tools because all of the employees decided to walk off the job since they hadn't been paid. She recommended I get my car out of there ASAP. She didn't have to tell me twice, and I hate to think about what I would have done if she wasn't there.
    The car was basically done (all bodywork and paint had been done), but there was overspray and paint dust everywhere, lots of trim and interior pieces were missing, and the battery was dead. I got a jump start and drove out of there (leaving my other car illegally parked – I didn't care about a ticket). Thankfully all of the removed parts were in the car, but I had to do a bunch of clean up work and reassembly. I actually still owed a few hundred bucks on the job, but considering the circumstances, I considered my bill paid. Overall the work was decent and the paint has held up well, so in the end it was a net gain, but there are some things I would have wanted the shop to correct if I had the chance.

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Totally. I was a junior in high school. Took my Honda CL125S (my first bike) in for a tune-up at the local Honda dealer. I picked it up and the cam sprocket fragged 2 miles from the dealership. They disavowed all responsibility, the bastards.
    The good news was that I bought a socket set and rebuilt the top end myself in the garage, initiating my mechanical education.

  7. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    I was told by a friend working on my car that the tie-rods on my 2006 Scion tC needed to be professionally looked at (120,000 miles.) So i brought it to a (recommended by friends) shop and said, Oil change and can you look at them. Told them no rush.
    Two days later I call to check on my car as I didn't hear anything. They tell me that my tie-rods were fine, but my manual transmission was serviced, the front bearings were replaced and the brass pins in the manual case (that according to him were prone to failure) were replaced with better parts as well as fluids and some sort of spacer in the transmission.
    I flipped out. I hadn't authorized any of the work, there was never a call. He claimed his second in command was to have talked to me. I said, "Why would I be asking about tie-rods if your paperwork says they were fine and that would have been part of the authorization?" I was travelling for business, so I had to control my anger while standing in an airport.
    He goes on and on about how some kid that had a tC in his shop had passed up on doing the bearings and two-weeks later they went and caused a horrific wreck, that i should appreciate the work and that he can't undo the work because getting the old bearings out destroys them. Yadda Yadda. There was also a lame excuse about how there was another tC in the shop right now, so his writer may have mixed them up.
    At this point my wife had been dropped off at the shop (in the rain with my 2 year-old) so she lays into him. He says he'll cut us a break if we pay cash. The bill was over $1000, he'll drop it to $700 for 'his mistake.'
    She used to work in a shop, so she's savvy and says she doesn't carry that kind of cash, but that she'd have to go to the bank. He says ok. She says, "I'm not walking in the rain, let me have the car."
    He relents. She drives it immediately home and parks it in the garage without paying him. Calls the cops, BBB and the attorney from the shop she used to work at.
    With the shop screaming that we were stealing their parts and that he could have us arrested if we didn't return and our local Police department going, "You have the car? Keep it locked up. Let the lawyers talk." We'll just say it was an interesting evening-3 AM.
    So being the honest guy I am (Hey, I have face to keep as a leader in my church) we compromised to pay, in cash, for parts to a total of ~$275.
    On the way out he had the audacity to say, "I hope this hasn't clouded your opinion of the shop, I'm going to have a long talk with the service writer. We'd like to see you again for other service."
    Anyway, after that the shifts from 1-2 and 3-4 were noticeably notchier, especially in the cold. I know he screwed it up. Thankfully at that point I wasn't driving the car much as i was train commuting. I sold the car 4000 miles later.
    I drive past the store on my new commute and saw a sign in the window that they are moving to a town 20 miles away. Guess they ran out of victims here.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      That's a classic one. I have never paid for unauthorized work that was more than a broken bolt or some such thing. Great thinking on behalf of your wife!

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        I don't know if she had it figured out when he gave her the car. I think she legitimately wasn't about to walk 6 blocks in the rain for this scumbag, especially with the 2 year-old. I know once she was in the car at the bank she called and said she was taking the car home and calling the police.
        So somewhere between those two points in time she figured it out.
        The local cop on duty (we're very friendly) said, "He let you take the car? That was stupid. He's got no more leverage." Not legal advice, but funny nonetheless.
        Our yard is 100% fenced in (My wife watches neighbor's children during the day) so they would have had to go through my locked fence to get at my locked garage. No shop should be stupid enough to do that in a small town just because he didn't get paid on $300 worth of parts, especially with unauthorized work that put them there.
        When I gave him the cash I told him i was giving him $275 too much. Said I was well within my consumer rights to not pay a nickel and he knew it. Problem is a lawyer would have cost me more than $275, so it wasn't worth it even if I was right.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Would you have had to pay the lawyer yourself if you had won the case?
          Anyway, it's a standup thing to do to pay for the parts. A job was done, after all.

          1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
            PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

            Probably not, but I don't need two slimy people getting paid at the expense of my time and and his money and shop. It was a fair compromise.

  8. MrHowser Avatar

    A few years ago, we decided to put a little money into my wife's Civic to make sure it was all up to snuff. Took it to a mechanic that came highly reviewed on the internet for a tune-up. The "tune-up" bill came to SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! My favorite part was the five quarts of oil he charged me for on a car that only takes four. He said that was just a default in the program, and gave me an extra quart, but i was suspicious.
    Turns out I was right to be suspicious. There was a long list of things he "fixed", but the icing on the cake was the rear brakes. I had asked him to replace the pads, and he did, but the brakes were VERY soft afterward. I told him to put it back up on the lift and fix it, since it felt like there was air in the lines. He "adjusted" the brakes and sent me on my way
    I drove it home (carefully) and asked my wife if she ever remembered the brakes feeling like that. She didn't, so we drove it back (carefully) and insisted that he bleed the brakes. He promised us they didn't need it, and that he noticed the ichthus fish on the back of our car. "Don't worry, I'm a Christian too, and I wouldn't rip you off, he said.
    As it turns out, his son, the other mechanic, had, in fact, opened the brake lines, and then went home sick without bleeding them. As you can imagine, I was livid.
    We decided to just cut our losses and never go back, but that got me started on doing my own work. I saw how much he had charged for very simple things, and said "well shoot, even I could do that!"

    1. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      William S Burroughs on doing business w/ the overtly religious. Words to live by.
      <img src="http://godlessmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/napoleon-1.jpg-1024×569.png&quot; width="400">

      1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

        Once they're convinced your soul has been saved, they couldn't care less about your physical or financial well-being.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        That's what I learned when I spend my first child-free weekend for threee months sitting 15 hours on a bus and one hour on a ferry, then the same back again, to look at a claimed nice Peugeot 504. Sold by an 80 year old church foreman, I just didn't imagine to be lied to my face. Should have known better…

  9. karonetwentyc Avatar

    I had moved into an apartment with a no-working-on-cars-in-the-parking-area clause in the lease, and needed to change the gear oil in my Peugeot 505's differential. Had I been thinking, I would have found a quiet side street where nobody would have noticed me doing the job, but I made the mistake of taking it to Jiffy-Lube. The person who did the change didn't tighten the drain plug down sufficiently, which fell out at 70mph on the freeway.
    After a very interesting exercise in heavy traffic vehicle control at speed, I had the car towed 40 miles to a shop that was able to replace the entire diff with a new one they had in stock. Jiffy-Lube did their best to weasel out on the repair, even going so far as to claim that the car had never been at their location despite the invoice for the work – clearly showing their address – being in my hand.
    Their regional VP eventually gave the OK on cutting me a cheque for car rental and the replacement, and refunded the cost of the original work, but not until I had my lawyer send them a letter. Amusingly, the cost of the part plus labour for the rear diff was more than the car was worth (it was a true beater, but in the best sense possible), so I did at least take some small measure of satisfaction from that.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      My wife and I took her old Buick LeSabre to a Valvoline quick-lube place once. We sat inside the car and watched the technician yank and fight with the air cleaner box for about five minutes. When she finally got the filter out, she came to the window with it and tried to sell us a new one, even though it was only about six months old and hardly discolored.
      The next oil change, we took it to our regular garage. They said, "By the way, do you know that the latches on your airbox lid are broken?"
      We went back to Jiffy Lube and told the manager that the technician had broken our airbox. "No way that's our fault, and besides, it's been more than 90 days since you had the work done." So we wrote a complaint letter to Valvoline. Their solution? Send us two coupons for free oil changes. We threw them in the trash and haven't gone to another quickie lube since.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        A few years back, I was on a cross-country trip in my (thankfully-gone) '99 Subaru Forester. Partway into the trip, it was time for an oil change. I didn't want to deal with doing the job at the side of the road, so I put aside my general distrust of quick-lube places and stopped at one in (I believe) Utah. While the car was in the bay, I told the writer that I'd be back in an hour or so and walked down the street to grab something to eat.
        When I came back, my car had a number of maladies that required immediate attention. The transmission fluid and filter needed changing, an immediate 'full engine flush with protective coating compounds for internal parts due to severe sludging' was also critical, my brake pads were dangerously low on all four corners, two discs at opposite corners were warped, and the air filter was completely clogged.
        I walked over to the car and removed a folder containing receipts (carried with me in case I had to take advantage of lifetime warranties on some of this stuff during the trip) for everything on his list and then some, including the completely rebuilt engine that had been put in that car about 12,000 miles prior.
        When I asked him how – in a voice loud enough for the entire waiting area to hear – he came to the conclusion that all of this was needed, he got really quiet, handed me the keys, and walked off. The Regional Manager got an angry call; I have no idea what came of it after that.
        And yep, unless absolutely forced to, I will *not* go to any of the quick-lube places for anything. I've even gone so far as to do basic maintenance on friends' cars for them to keep them out of those places.

  10. buzzboy7 Avatar

    My old roommate took his 4.3 powered Jimmy in to a quick lube type place for an oil change. Somehow two different techs decided to add the oil to it. 10quarts of oil in a 4.3 chevy. This was when I learned that overfilling the oil by that much can, in fact, damage an engine.

  11. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Pretty sure the guys at this Midas (https://goo.gl/maps/fHuLA) stole, or were somehow involved in the theft of my '91 Wrangler. (roughyl 12 years ago).
    Took it there for a quick exhaust system repair while in college and they hit me with like $1500 worth of estimate of stuff that they "found" that needed to be done (it didn't). On my way out, I remember some dudes in the parking lot (employees coming off shift at the end of the day) eying my car weirdly. Stolen the following week from an on-campus parking lot at UCSD (10 min down the road).

  12. Scott W. Avatar
    Scott W.

    About 5 years ago, I took my Isuzu Trooper to our local Firestone for a brake job, since the rear brakes had worn down to the point that they were grinding on the rotors. (I was a stupid (and broke) teenager, and my not-car-savvy dad was in denial that the brakes were making noise) I go to pick it up, get in, and discover that the ABS light is now on. Dad's suggestion is "drive it a bit and see if it goes away." (see what I mean about not car savvy?)
    I knew that the ABS light had never been on, so I head back into the Firestone, with dad trailing behind me. When confronted, the service advisor behind the desk doesn't even look up from his computer before claiming that "it was on when you brought it in." My dad actually believed Mr. Firestone Man and walked out, but I stood my ground. When I insisted that the light hadn't been on when I brought it in, the service advisor rolled his eyes and said they would look at it and tell me how much it would COST TO FIX. Those were his exact words.
    The Trooper goes back into the service bay and up onto the lift. By this point my dad is long gone, so it's just me and Mr. Firestone Man. 10 minutes later, he walks back in to the waiting area and tells me that "the technician admitted that he cracked your ABS sensor ring while replacing your rotor."
    To their credit, they did fix it for free, but given that they had to track down an Isuzu part for it, it took a week before everything was squared away. Needless to say, I haven't been back to that Firestone since.

  13. frankthecat Avatar

    A couple of years ago, I went to a tire shop to get my van's tires rotated and a NYS inspection. THINGS OF NOTE; my parking brake was working and on when I parked the van in their lot. I gave them the keys and my cellphone number, and wandered into town to get a bite to eat.
    TWO HOURS LATER they finally call me and tell me my van failed safety inspection, and that they would discuss why when I got there.
    When I got back, the guy at the desk said the car had failed because the parking brake was inoperable (what?), and that it'd be $300 to fix it (double what??) I helpfully pointed out that, in fact, my parking brake was perfectly operable before I'd handed over the keys, and was on when I parked the van in the lot. I then asked for the manager.
    Manager walks out. I ask him which one of his techs screwed up my parking brake, and why they're not owning up to it. Guy says, in slightly more polite terms, that my van is an unsafe piece of shit, and they're "doing me a favor." Granted, yes it was a bit unsafe, but that's a little uncalled for. I then asked why are you quoting $300 for $35 in parking brake cables and maybe an hour in labor? In that case, I'll go home and do it myself.
    Boy, did that make him livid. He called me (again in slightly politer terms) that I was a stupid naive little shit and I'd fuck it up if I tried to do it myself. What.
    It took me talking VERY LOUDLY in front of all the other people in the lobby about how I'm not happy they're trying to screw me over after breaking my van, and implying I'd call the cops, for them to hand over the keys.
    Walk out of the shop, get in my van, and sure enough, the parking brake doesn't latch! I put it on ramps when I got home, and found the parking brake cables were absolutely fine. Turns out some fucker in their shop had somehow BENT the parking brake pedal assembly (probably trying to release it, not realizing there was a handle for that,) so the pawl was missing the ratchet. I bent it back with a hammer and the parking brake worked fine.

  14. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    I forgot one story.
    I brought my 1994 Lightning to a shop in town who had down thousands of dollars of work for my family over the years. It needed tires, he gave me a good deal on the tires and everything was peachy.
    I drove it home and it was a little funny with shifting. That wasn't rare, if you disconnected the battery, sometimes it felt a little different for a few shifts. I can't explain it, but it was just a less deliberate shift than that E4OD usually made.
    2 days later I couldn't back out of the garage. I pushed it out and had it flat-bedded to the Ford Dealer. The transmission was shot. I can't remember if it was a universal or planetary joint (I don't do transmissions, haha) but it was toast.
    I was steamed. I drove the back road from the Ford Dealer to the shop that did my tires to see if they had noticed anything when they were working on the tires. As i came up the back road (not the one I had driven when picking up the truck) I noticed two, very dark, very distinct stripes down the road, just about as wide as my truck. I immediately knew what happened.
    I went in and asked for Charlie, the owner. He came out, greeted me by name asked what was up. I asked if he was in the shop on Tuesday when i had my tires put on. "Nope, had to run home for an emergency."
    I told him to check his security video. Sure enough, there was my truck leaving their lot sideways and out of view. However about 15 seconds later a huge plume of white smoke filled the lot from the D-bag cooking my old tires off for me.
    He knew who the tech was, called him over the intercom, the "kid" (22? I was 20 at the time.) came walking in with his chest up like he was expecting an award, shook my hand like he was supposed to be greeting me. Charlie goes, "Your shit will be in the back lot at 6, you can pick it up then. That's the closest you ever come to my shop again. GTFO."
    Thankfully the truck's previous owner had gotten a very extended warranty and it cost me $100 to repair. Charlie paid that and gave me a rental for the time being.
    I saw the guy at a bar 3 years later with a girl I was friends with. He didn't recognize me. Why would he? When he got up to use the bathroom, I told her my story, said I hoped he learned to respect things that weren't his. She laughed. When they left they walked past my truck, she told me she asked him if they were fast. He said "Enough."
    Moral of the story and the one I posted earlier, Don't follow me to repair shops. Also, i do most of my own work now, haha.

  15. marmer01 Avatar

    The dealer I used to use always used to charge me 20 bucks for washer fluid refill on every scheduled maintenance. I top it off myself every weekend. Finally I got tired of it and told the service writer that they couldn't even add one ounce to that reservoir and that if they kept charging me for that I was going to file a complaint for fraud. They took it right off and never did it again. I suspect it was some kind of "default" thing. Then I started going to a local independent shop. I like them a lot, but once they failed to reconnect my headlights after doing some engine work and once they left my rear wheel bolts finger tight, which I learned when the car started to shimmy like crazy. I called the owner and told him that going forward I expected him to QC the car personally and if something like that happened again I wouldn't be shy about sharing my experiences and naming names. So far, so good.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      I had my A4 (B6, not the B5 which is a whole other can of hell) at the dealer for some COP covered work. Got the call it was ready. I drove the loan car to the shop, walk in and get the lo-down on what was covered. The car was already in the drive ready to go.
      I sign off on the work, service adviser can't find the keys. Not in the car and not on his desk. 30 minutes searching and I give up and take the loan car back to my house and get my spare key. Drive back to the dealer, get my car. A soon as I get home, SA calls saying they have my key… so I turn right around and had back to the dealer.
      I asked to see the manager but got the dealership owner. Nice discussion on what expectations I have.
      The owner was a good guy. The techs…. whatever.

  16. Preludacris Avatar

    In December 2010, I took my rusty 1989 Accord to Mike's Service Garage in Sioux Center, Iowa. It had a loud squeak I was concerned could be a ball joint and a major safety issue. I also wanted an alignment because the car was pulling to one side. I was about to graduate from college and drive it across the country to British Columbia, I had limited time and resources and I made the mistake of telling them so.
    I got a call half an hour later, "you need new shocks and a new radius rod bushing. That'll be $500."
    That was absurd pricing, and I had a vague idea that the noise didn't seem like shocks to me, but I was naive and wanted to be safe. Even though I could barely afford it, I approved the work and picked up my car the next day. Instantly I realized the alignment was WORSE than before, and the horrible suspension squeak hadn't changed in the slightest. I went back and told them they hadn't fixed the problem and was there anything they could do for me? "No, we did the work you approved."
    Shaking with anger but too non-confrontational to do or say anything more, I took my car to another shop in town, Darlo's. $35 later, I had a new tie rod end and the squeak was gone.
    Like many of you, this led to me learning how to work on my own car. Nowadays, I bring a car to the shop only to perform something that requires an expensive tool or a hoist. What I really bought for my $500 at MIke's Service garage was the ability to detect B.S., and it's one of the more important car repair tools I own.
    That and a pair of jackstands…
    <img src="http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z313/ndrwhrnr/2012-08-28132048.jpg&quot; width="500">

  17. r henry Avatar
    r henry

    I am very mechanically inclined, and do almost all my own work.
    My wife's Mazda MPV was making a bad gear noise in first gear. I took it to a local transmission shop, who diagnosed it as a bad planetary–which I already knew. I negotiated a $500.00 discount for removing and re installing the trans-axle myself. When I installed the rebuilt transmission, I was fastidious about all the electrical connections, cooler lines, etc. It was a better-than-new installation in every way.
    Once I had it all buttoned up, I added fluid and started the engine. Upon test drive, I noted that the gear noise in first gear persisted. I also noticed a 3 second pause when reverse was selected.
    I took the car to the shop that did the work. It was confirmed that bonehead who "rebuilt" the unit only installed the soft parts, did not replace the planetary. The service manager agreed to drive me home, and would R&R the trans again, and replace the planetary and fix the reverse issue with a correctly rebuilt valve body—for not additional charge. How generous!
    I picked up the van a few days later–the trans was finally operating properly.
    Two weeks later, no start. Dashboard was a Christmas Tree of warning lights.
    My inspection found that all my very careful wire routing was a bowl of spaghetti now…and that the negative lead from the battery, which was designed to be bolted to the trans case…was just hanging free.
    A month later, my wife (with my young daughter) called from the parking lot of a local Barnes and Nobel. The right front spindle had separated from the strut…and the whole wheel/tire/brake assembly was under the car! When the trans was reinstalled, the tech failed to properly torque the suspension bolts, and both spindle to strut bolts came apart
    Moral of the story: If you want your car fixed right, fix it yourself.

  18. Felis_Concolor Avatar

    Well, the list of problem-inducing repairs from Windward Dodge's shop were numerous and traced to an extremely tribal service department. If you had not actually purchased your ChryCo product from them, they'd give you the runaround regarding warranty repair, and never use the then-new diagnostic computer tools.
    The first problem occurred when I took the bucking and stalling GLH Turbo in for some warranty repair work. I knew something was up when they handed me a long form and checklist of potential problem areas. I asked them why they didn't use the computer to figure out what was happening and was told, "oh, this is SOP; everyone fills out this form."
    While they tried (and failed) to properly diagnose a failed in-tank fuel pump RF filter, they managed to disassemble my dashboard in a vain attempt to locate a short circuit in the tach, and break off a critical noise-cancelling tab on the Mopar A/C system during reassembly. This caused a very nasty resonance buzz around 2000 RPM, which coincides with 35 in 3rd gear, 45 in 4th gear and 55 in 5th gear.
    A followup visit saw them replacing the burned-out high pressure pump, which promptly failed a week later as the in-tank pump was still inoperative, thus starving the fuel injection system.
    Yet another visit later, they had replaced the logic module with the wrong year's version, causing the car to immediately suffer limp-home mode no matter how I drove it.
    A slight coolant leak from the heater core hose was repaired with a tightly wrapped sheet of rubber and 2 hose clamps, which promptly failed on the return drive to the college campus.
    Oh yeah, during the botched A/C reinstall, they also cut off the evaporator canister drain tube, thus ensuring underhood air pressure would push the moisture back into the open cell foam bushing, then draining down into the passenger side footwell. This is a common malady among 2.2 equipped L-bodies and K-cars; often the only part of the body that's corroded is the passenger side footwell, and it's completely rotted through.
    Eventually my father flew over on a day when I had no classes, and we visited Chrysler's Pacific VP in his Ala Moana office. Giving him a tearful rundown of my travails, including the full history in receipts on his desk, I watched as he quietly picked up the phone, dialed Windward, got the service manager on the line, and fired him. Apparently the complaints against that service center had been stacking up for years. The VP then called the combination Dodge/Nissan dealer down the street, chatted with their service manager and described our situation, letting him know they didn't need to worry about the cost, just track down and clear up the car's problems.
    The issue was eventually resolved the following summer, when I returned to my home island and shipped the car back ahead of time. when I visited the guys in Kahului they said, "oh, that sounds like an in-tank fuel pump's gone bad; you need to replace both at once when that happens."
    The parts counter guys at Windward were also crooks of the highest order; they'd slit the bag for each new Direct Connection parts catalog and remove the Racer's Net price list from it before handing it over, then attempt to triple or quadruple the price when you tried to order through them.

    1. r henry Avatar
      r henry

      Does a Manufacturer VP have power to fire dealer employees? I think not.

      1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

        In this case, he did; I visited the despised shop shortly after making the switch to the Downtown location, and there was a new guy at the service manager's desk. He most certainly wasn't promoted to a greater level of incompetence.

        1. r henry Avatar
          r henry

          Good to hear!

          1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

            It has been close to 30 years since that fateful day, but I do remember the phone call and I do remember the service manager gone from the Windward office afterwards. It may not have been a direct intervention and I have definitely been overly insistent on the precise events.
            Perhaps it was the general manager or store owner who was called. Perhaps the VP mentioned if the individual in question wasn't sent elsewhere, that particular dealer wouldn't see anything but Colts and K-Cars for the next 3 years while Cutter and the rest of the dealers on the island got first pick of their choice of loaded Grand Caravans and Daytonas. I do remember being assured that Windward's service department wouldn't be a problem any longer, and that Chrysler was still having problems with the sort of dealer service center rivalries which should have died long ago.
            It truly was bad on O'ahu; up through the 80s many new vehicle owners would be treated poorly if their service center did not match up with the showroom location. Oddly enough, my best experience came from an out-of-warranty A/C compressor fire which destroyed the entire system – and it was the dealer installed Mopar unit, which made that particular GLH Turbo exceptionally rare in an era when most people settled for the hack job ARA units. Though I had purchased the car on a neighbor island, Cutter not only offered me their New Yorker loaner (turned down as I could still easily use The Bus on O'ahu while without my wheels) while they slowly replaced all the dead bits, their service manager winked and told me they managed to put it under the 5/50 full replacement program since the Mopar numbers qualified for same, even though technically it was long out of warranty and would have set me back approximately $2,500 in '89.
            I can see from Google's overhead view how Windward has somehow lost its Subaru affiliation in the past couple decades, while Cutter has moved from its location near the docks to a plum spot right near Ala Moana and the upscale market section of town; I guess the latter's been doing something right.

          2. Felis_Concolor Avatar

            And a bonus story from the OT files!
            The ruined repair visit, bicycle shop edition.
            "Yeah, this is the shop you dropped your Cannondale off at."
            "Oh yeah; how's the tune up progressing?"
            "Well, whoever installed your rear derailleur must have used some thread
            locker on it; the threads completely stripped the hanger when we removed
            "Did you loosen and remove the set screw on the back side first?"
            "What set screw?"
            "Sachs-Huret Duopars have no tensioning spring: the rear derailleur is
            installed snug, then loosened 1/8 turn to allow movement, then the set
            screw is installed, which prevents the entire assembly from working loose."
            "So what are you going to do about repairing or replacing my frame?"
            "You never told us about the set screw."
            "The Duopar derailleur has been in general use for over 5 years; I know
            at least 4 riders on this island who use them and who visit your shop
            "I'll call Cannondale's technical service department first, and have them
            fax you some instructions on frame repair. Then I'm going ask if they have
            a legal advice department to see just what else I need to do regarding your
            "Uh – okay."
            "And can you put someone else besides your gorilla for hire on the repair
            once it's faxed in? I really love that frame."
            I found out later the shop owner hated Cannondale bicycles and their owners
            due to a nasty bit of competition from a new bicycle shop proprietor who
            had since moved to another island. Cannondale informed me of the C&Ds they
            had emailed the shop owner regarding his loud and incessant bad mouthing of
            their then-new frames, lying about weak head tubes when in fact the brief
            run of failures were from the Tange-sourced forks, a small batch of which
            were immediately replaced with no questions asked in the mid 80s.

  19. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Also, remind me never to actually read a classic Chevy forum. For guys who seem to be all about classic American cultural icons, they seem barely capable of properly writing in English.

  20. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    Spring break, HS, 1986.
    Was in Galveston, TX, had driven to Austin to pick up a still good friend from UT, then road-trip to his folks' place on the island.
    Got there, day two, and the '67 Dodge A-108 passenger van (windows all around), 318, three-on-the-tree, ordered by my male parental unit in 1967, was hemorrhaging axle 'grease'.
    I nursed it to town, where I found a shop who said the could put new seals in it.
    Cool! It sucked being stuck at the shop for the day, but hey…
    Got it home, to D/FW, via Austin, and sumbitch, it's leaking again!
    Take it to "my guy" there, and they swapped the axles when they were put back. Normally, this isn't noticeable, but on that era of Mopar, they had "left" and "right" lug nuts. Turns out, the right one, I think, it's been a while…backed the seal out, and was re-leaking.
    It was immediately after this point I determined I will learn as much as I can about automotive repair, to prevent such stupidity in the future. As it stands, I've become pretty good at A/C work, live axle diffs, independent suspension axles, front-end parts/alignment, and other stuff most wouldn't dare touch.
    To be fair, I've yet to rebuild an automatic transmission, but the 46RE in the '98 5.9L Jeep ZJ may be the first.

    1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

      There seems to be a permanent low level debate regarding which part of automobile repair is the nastiest; the brain surgery of automatic transmission rebuilding or the neurosurgery of electrical system troubleshooting.

      1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
        C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        I'm pretty comfy with electrics…finally…but automagic transmissions…
        I had a couple of valve bodies apart, one a couple of years back, in the '05 V8 STS, and they flat-out make me nervous.
        This said, I know the 46RE in the 5.9L ZJ is effectively a 727 Torqueflite with a fourth gear thrown on it.
        I should be able to do it…maybe.
        BTW, I've been chasing a low-level parasitic drain in the STS for three years, now. Can't sit for more than three days without killing a larger-than-OEM, one week-old, battery. It's pissing me off.

        1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

          3 days to empty? Good god, that's nasty; my '96 Roadmaster has what might be considered a parasitic drain in the always-on load leveling air suspension, but I can go for months without using the wagon and still fire it up with no drama.
          From way out of left field comes the thought; if it's a constant drain, shouldn't there be a field associated with it, and couldn't some sort of scanner or scope determine in which direction that field lies? It might help physically pinpoint where all that juice is going.

          1. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
            C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

            I'm at the point of pulling fuses and measuring across the terminals, but one fuse box is under the rear seat…facepalm…and I haven't gotten there, yet.

  21. 7FIAT's Later Avatar
    7FIAT's Later

    Lots of horror stories here, so I will counter-balance it a little I think. When something is beyond my scope of doing myself, I do business with a local indy shop, they are pretty fair with repairs and pricing and the bonus is the owner/mechanic lives fairly close by, so he picks up my vehicles in the morning and drops off the vehicle and the bill when finished. I also had a roommate who was a mechanic and he made the comment that "what is the point of being dishonest, when you can literally make wheelbarrows full of money by being honest and doing good work".

  22. pursang Avatar

    It was the first warm day of spring a few years ago when I drove my car to a local branch of a regional tire franchise with my worn out summer wheels in the trunk of my SAAB and my new that winter dedicated snows on the car. I left the summer wheels and said I would return before closing to pay and pick up them up with newly shod summer Continentals, and I would put them on at home myself the next day. Mostly so I would not have to hang around the shop watching a wrestling channel all day, and as I did almost all of my own work, it gave me a chance to recon the suspension and brakes on my own.
    I arrive back about closing time, and while I'm waiting for someone to help me, I overhear a conversation behind the counter between an obvious regional manager of the chain and Joe, one of the technicians. The regional manager was telling Joe that he was going to get promoted to a manager's position in their new East Bumf*ck location and how he could make "commissions" on every additional repair he wrote up for the customer. "They are buying just tires, but you get $10 for signing them up for an alignment, $15 for shocks, $10 for a brake job, etc…." He pointed out Joe could make an extra few hundred dollars or more each month from such "recommendations" and he could "make his own success". OK, I always suspected that was the business plan, but since I do all my own work, I didn't care. I'm just getting tires. Joe and the regional manager walk out and drive off at quitting time.
    Then Louie the local supervisor asks me my name and I pay for my four tires and high speed balance. I was the last customer on line. It's Miller time on Friday afternoon, he wants to get out. As he staples my receipt to the work order, he then proceeds to recommend that I either leave the car or bring it back as the ball joints were shot and the tie rod ends were just bad enough, that they could not align the car. Also the rear brakes were not too bad, but they might as well get them while the front end was fixed. "And get an alignment, otherwise those new tires will be shot in a couple of thousand miles. We will need the car the whole day."
    He handed the work sheet to a tech guy, who then rolled my wheels and new tires to the counter, which I rolled out and put in my trunk. I asked Louie how he knew about all of those worn parts as he never had my car, and smiled. He didn't say anything, and was not the least bit embarrassed, it was just another day for him, making his own success. Of course, none of the work was needed, and I knew that before I ever got under the car the next day.

  23. ptschett Avatar

    Minor, but nonetheless stupid:
    I'd taken my Dakota in for its very first set of replacement tires. A few weeks later, I opened the glove box and couldn't find the owner's manual binder… which was where my registration and insurance cards lived, so I'd been driving without proof of insurance for weeks. I was sure I'd left the binder somewhere dumb at home, or had set it on the roof or the tonneau cover and it had blown off onto the highway somewhere. And I was going to drive the Dakota for a 9-day vacation the next day.
    Finally I called the tire shop and asked if they happened to have it. They said "Yeah, we've had this sitting here for a few weeks, and weren't sure whose it was". They took the binder out of the truck, allegedly to check the tire pressure setting, didn't put it back in, and weren't curious enough to open it up and see the registration and insurance cards with my damn name and address on them.
    …and the tires were set to 44 PSI instead of the correct 35.
    Same vehicle, different shop, many years later, more satisfactory outcome:
    My shocks were getting worthless and I suspected I had a ball joint going out, so I took it in to my local Chrysler dealer's shop to have it fixed. With how some things were so bound up with rust after this having been my winter driver for the last 10 years, they ended up having to do some torch cutting and install a new lower control arm on one side of the front suspension (unfortunately, not the side with the bad lower ball joint, since the LBJ would have come with the arm.) That kind of stuff happens, I can't begrudge them that.
    Then the day I got the Dakota back I found there were holes burnt in the rubber boot that goes over one side of the steering rack, on the side that got the new lower arm and would have had the torch work. I brought it back in late that afternoon, parked in the middle of the service drive and was a bit vocal when discussing the issue. The Avenger I'd had for a loaner during the Dakota's shop stay was gone to its next temporary assignment so they gave me a Ram off the used lot for an overnight loaner, replaced the burnt boot and realigned the front end at no additional cost, and delivered the Dakota to my workplace by noon the next day. (Several of my coworkers thought I'd traded the Dakota for the Ram… the loaner happened to be Deep Water Blue like my Challenger.)

  24. Generic1 Avatar

    I took my Jetta GLi to a local shop for a new clutch. Kept calling the shop, and was put off, as they told me they were really busy, would get to it in a few days. Finally, my dad looks into, as I had left the state for a while, and he is told he needed to pick the car up right away. He is told by shop owner that it's problematic to the shop to keep my car there any longer. Come to find out, he'd left it outdoors the whole time, and the window had been busted out, with no other damage or loss. Without calling us, he'd repaired the window and left it out overnight again! This time not only was the windows busted, but an expensive sound system (as valuable as the car) was stolen as well. He claimed the shop had no responsibility. We protested, due to his shady actions with the first break-in, and he (his insurance) ended up paying for my loss. Come to find out it was an inside job, one of his workers was responsible for it all. It was a shame, he did quality work, but we never trusted them to do our work again!

  25. Sjalabais Avatar

    So much fail!
    I have one that equally balances stupidity on both ends of the transaction. Shortly after we became parents, my wife's then Corolla was in for inspection. Some brake lines had to be changed. Couple of days later, the red brake warning light came on. Since we had had trouble with the hand brake, we took a look at that. Hm…nothing. In the fresh-parents-brain-mist we didn't really do anything after that. Some nights later, my wife calls with a shaken voice, she just had to stop the car on gears alone as there were no brakes.
    Turns out: Guy at shop didn't screw on all the brake nipples hard enough. We were to stupid to follow the meaning of a red dashboard light. I can't even remember if we got some money back, our minds really weren't up and running back then.

  26. jeremy![™] Avatar

    hell yes… I had some leaking valve stems in the miata a while back. turned out, because of mazdas awesome racecar support, that a new motor was cheaper than a head removal valve job. I thought, simple enough! called a well regarded mazda service center and arranged the swap. a few weeks later they call and say the car is ready. excitedly I pickup my car and start the 40 mile trek back home. ill skip the details but the car turned off on the freeway. hobbled to a parking lot to see ZERO coolant in the resivour. mechanic had forgotten to connect a coolant line in the back of the engine so the motor went poof. brand new mx5 motor got to whizz around for 10 miles…

  27. mac350 Avatar

    Back in 1977 I bought a low mileage 72 Coupe de Ville, cheap. One day the car wouldn't shift into high. Took it to a automatic transmission repair shop and after waiting an hour was told that the car needed a complete transmission overhaul for about $1,200. I said I'd think about it and drove home. I jacked it up put it on a jackstand and crawled under the car to take a look – the vacuum hose had slipped off the vacuum modulator on the transmission. The end of the hose was soft, so I cut off about and inch and slipped it back on and, voila, a fully operating transmission. It worked fine until the day I sold it.