By on November 11, 2012

 

Since my last entry involved Crooked Customer behavior, I think its only fair that I give equal time to that of the Shady Shop. Rather than merely relating what have most certainly become cliché’—and I’ve pretty much heard them all—I’m going to relate a few accounts in which I personally have been on the receiving end, as either a consumer or a shop owner.

They really stand out due to a few factors, not the least of which is the absolute unflinching nerve, if not downright out-and-out hubris on the part of the perpetrators.

The first involves a shop that I had been referring customers to for alignment adjustments, as I didn’t have what I considered at the time to be proper equipment for performing such a task.

The time had finally come for me to take one of my own vehicles into their shop for an adjustment. It was a project I’d been working on for a while, and was now ready for the road: a 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400.

I had just finished an overhaul of the steering system, replacing all ball joints and bushings, and roughing-in the critical adjustments. I told the owner of the shop this and other pertinent facts, also making sure that he recognized me as a fellow shop owner, and one who had been trusting him with the responsibility of servicing my customers vehicles, as well. He seemed appreciative, and he recognized who I was.

He gave his tech the key and the car was pulled into the bay with the alignment rack. O.K., I thought, this shouldn’t take long.

It didn’t take very long for the tech to climb out from the pit over which the car was suspended on the rack’s ramps, and approach me to inform me that he was going to have to replace all of the car’s steering ball joints and bushings in order to perform the alignment adjustment!

I asked him if his boss had informed him that all of those parts had just been replaced and a basic adjustment performed, and all that was needed was a final adjustment.

His response to that was a slightly modified version of his original statement: that unless I approved of him replacing all of the parts he’d just recommended, he would not perform the alignment adjustment.

I went back into the office to discuss this proposed auto repair blackmail with the owner. To my surprise, he completely backed his tech, and didn’t waver from his position, even after all three of us went into the pit to confirm that the parts in question were in fact new, and correctly installed! Even after I reiterated the fact that I had sent a fair amount of customers to him, and—figuring he might understand this approach—if he continued in his stonewall course, future referrals would be in jeopardy. No dice. He just wasn’t going to get off his position.

I asked for the keys and left the scene.

I subsequently, and understandably without delay, learned how to perform final alignment adjustments at my own shop, with nary such an encounter after that.

 

Another involved a customer referred to me by another longtime customer. He pulled into my shop driveway with his engine making the telltale rhythmic popping that indicated a spark plug was missing from its assigned position.

He said that he’d had a tune up performed on his Y2K Expedition about three weeks previous, and after two weeks, the spark plug fell out, collecting its ignition coil as collateral damage. He had taken it back to the Blue Oval Dealership, where the alleged “tune-up” had been performed, to complain about it. After inspecting it, they claimed that they were not responsible for the damage, and they were going to have to replace the cylinder head to correct the present problem. All for the tidy sum of just at $2000!

He brought it to me for a second opinion.

It turned out that there was no damage to the head—the new spark plug I provided properly threaded into the head, and seated as normal. I suggested checking out the installation on the rest of the plugs, which he agreed was a good idea at that point.

All of the other three plugs on that bank of cylinders were not tightened properly. But that was not the end of it. Three of the four spark plugs on the other bank of cylinders were still the ORIGINAL units! The s’Dealer had not even made an attempt on their replacement!

I wound up replacing all of the plugs and the one missing ignition coil, and that vehicle lived happily ever after. I gave the customer the old parts, and he went back to the dealership and got his money back.

But to think of what would have passed if he hadn’t complained and sought a second opinion!

The last story I’ll relate in this entry is of a customer that came in for a diagnosis involving a driveability problem and a check engine light illuminated. The visual inspection showed a physically damaged Oxygen Sensor and wiring pigtail. The failure code from the ECM confirmed that was the sole reason why the check engine lamp was illuminated. I showed the customer the damaged sensor by merely raising the hood and pointing. The customer nodded in agreement.

He didn’t have me do the repair at that time, saying he was going to have another recommended shop check it out, and get back to me later.

Well, he did get back to me in a couple of days. He showed me an invoice from the other shop, which described a different repair, not the replacement of the 02 sensor I had recommended. He showed me the absence of the check engine light (I verified that it was still functional), and how well the engine was running (it was, indeed, running well).

I asked to have a look under the hood, and invited him to take a look with me. Sure enough, it had a brand new O2 sensor in the place of the damaged one we both had confirmed was there before! The customer was beside himself in disbelief! Even though my years “in the trenches” prevented me from being in that place, I had to admit that I’d never seen a dirty-tricks PR move like it, either. Apparently, the other shop wanted so badly to cast mud in my direction and elevate themselves, that they actually falsified their repair record, charging the customer for something other than the repair they performed!

One of the reasons I got into the Auto Repair Business, was that I figured I could make a decent living at it by just dealing with factual evidence. Eventually, though, these “Other Roader’s”—both Crooked Customers and Shady Shops—had an unfortunate and significant impact on my ability to do so.

The “Other Road” seems to know no boundaries.

As an ASE Certified L1 Master Tech, Phil ran a successful independent repair shop on the West Coast for close to 20 years, working over a decade before that at both dealer and independent repair shops. He is presently semi-retired from the business of auto repair, but still keeps his hand in things as a consultant and in his personal garage.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

42 Comments on “Memoirs Of An Independent Workshop Owner: Two Can Play At That Game — Part Two — Sundry Shady Shop Swindles...”


  • avatar
    JREwing

    I consider myself fairly savvy on vehicles and vehicle repair, up until recently performing most repairs myself (my current residence prevents such work being done). Having this knowledge helps stave off attempts by some shops at screwing me over.

    And yet, I can name a number of occasions I’ve been bent over by unscrupulous repair shops. Some of them happen to have a new car sales franchise.

    Take someone who has little to no knowledge about cars and throw them into this situation. Those shops are like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    A business relationship is like any other relationship in that both “sides” have to live up to their responsibilities. Customers should expect an honest mechanic who stands behind their work and their diagnosis, and the customer has to pay for that work, unless they decline such service. Most of the time this works fine. My problem is when an error is made and there is additional cost due to it. Case in point was when my mother’s car had a brake noise that I recognized as metal on metal contact in the front brakes. The mechanic returned the car as no problem found, and did not charge her as our family were “regulars”. Three weeks later she complained to me again and returned the car the the wrench. This time the diagnosis was front pads, one new rotor, and one machined rotor. I argued that had the shop not misdiagnosed the problem to begin with, we would likely be turning two rotors and not replacing one. I asked that the bill be changed to pads and the cost of machining two rotors, plus the usual labor. With the mileage between visits small (and accounted for on both work orders) I felt that I was being a completely reasonable customer. The shop refused.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Today’s vehicles are pretty reliable often with oil changes, brake pads, and tire rotations all they need for 150000 miles. The new hot thing, especially at dealerships, is a fluid flush. “Uh Sir, your (fill in the blank fluid) looks dirty and your muffler bearings are making noise. Hogwash, change my oil and do the scheduled maintenance. Dad taught me to change oil like religion, which I do. I find the attempted upsell irritating. Happy Veteran’s Day to all the veterans on here. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Changing fluids is not a scam. Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture. It should be changed every 2 years to prevent the boiling temperature from getting to low, and to prevent corrosion. Trans fluid also fills up with contaminants and it’s additives wear out over time just like engine oil. You wouldn’t keep engine oil for the lifetime of the engine would you. MB used to suggest that their trans fluid was “lifetime”. After seeing many failure they went down to 40,000 mile intervals and most of the trans failures went away. Coolant is an organic substance and breaks down over time. Comparing maintenance services to the rip-off attempts mentioned in the article is pretty pointless.

      But hey, I’m just as happy to change your trans, hydraulic components of the brakes, and cooling system components because our services are a scam. You are going to respond with dealers make most of their money on these “scam” services. Let me blow your mind. Auto service centers are not charities that fix your car, but for profit businesses that make money out of servicing your vehicle. Your evil local supermarket also makes all their money by selling you your groceries, but you’re not on a message board complaining about the scam Kroger is doing.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        MBella, I change my fluids as scheduled or even earlier. Seven months after I had my brake fluid changed I was told it looked “dirty” and needed flushed. Just about every time I get my oil changed I’m told something looks dirty or needs flushed. This was after I showed the service manager my own records of fluid changes. The more senior mechanics are great. It’s the new oil changing guys who recommend some fluid or another needs changed each and every oil change. I consider that a scam and have bitched to the service manager about it. It boils down to “you didn’t buy your care here”; I wasn’t living in the same state when I bought the car. My new favorite? Every other oil change it’s recommended I change my air filter. Finding a good shop whenever you move is hassle; it’s s sweet spot of competency, convenience, and trust. I’ve also praised the same shop on here and another shop in Alexandria, VA. It’s nice when one of the tech’s goes “my wife drives one of these”. The bad is the “this fluid needs changed/flushed” every time I go in there. That is an attempted scam and many people wouldn’t notice or care.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I can’t comment on your personal experience but the problem you will have with any service establishment is that you are in the mercy of the tech who gets your car. I have worked with many honest techs, and many dishonest ones. The problems like you mentioned are what is wrong in the business today.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        MBella:
        2 years sounds too conservative for me. I’d probably just change fluid the 2nd time you replace your brakes. I’ll usually change out fluid and replace any rubber brake lines and watch all the corrosion (usually stays in the flex line) bleed out when I overhaul the calipers. But I also like to push engineering safety factors.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        “Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture.”

        Not on my car it isn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        #1) He said “flush” which is a scam and will do more harm than good, especially in an old transmission.
        #2) Transmission fluid does not have to deal with combustion by-products. It needs changing as often as the owners’ manual recommends. This is from experience.
        Think before spewing malarkey.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      On the upselling – I had my BMW into the dealer for its first annual state safety inspection. The service advisor came into the waiting area and solemnly advised me that they recommend that the tires be rotated and balanced, and an alignment performed annually. For $350, not covered by BMWs Free Maintenance, of course. I responded that the owner’s manual CLEARLY and in no uncertain terms says that BMW does not recommend rotating the tires, the car has no balance issues, nor does it have any alignment issues. The backpedalling was EPIC. Then they had the gall to try to get me to sign a paper saying that I had “refused a recommended service”. And then sent me a letter in the mail expounding on thier wonderful service offerings, and here is a discount coupon for you since you did not take advantage of them.

      $350 for an alignment, rotation and balance?? Sheesh. I don’t like their capacinno that much, even if the car had needed the work!

      Most recently, my Mom called me up in a state of panic Friday. The ’08 Dodge Caliber she bought my kid brother (without consulting me – family sore spot) needed $1500 worth of work to pass inspection at 65K miles. She had no idea what the issue was, wanted me to lend them my spare car while it gets fixed. Uh, no, kid brother doesn’t return cars in the shape they were lent. Call kid brother – Toyota dealership where car was purchased says it needs balljoints, that will be $1500 please. A quick Google shows that yes, these turds DO need balljoints at that age, but it is a 1hr per side job, complete control arm is $180 from Dodge. Being the nice big brother that I am, I did it for him today. I beat the 2hrs by a few minutes. $60 for an alignment after at a local tire shop. $1500 at the Toyota dealer…. Again, sheesh. My mechanic would have done it for $250 plus the same cost for the parts, but the kid hasn’t got two nickles to rub together to I figured I would do him a favor.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You’re a good brother. The poor purchaser in my family is not my brother, but my mother. Nothing by Chrysler products over my lifetime gives me great facepalm.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I’ve had this happen before. I had a car that I drove less than 5000 miles per year, and the service writer assumed that my car was newer than it actually was.

      I once pointed out that the car was 2 years older than he had written on his service ticket. Without even opening the hood, he said, “wait, really? Since this car is X years old, you need new belts. Your belts are all cracked up.”

      I asked him to show me the cracks in the belts, especially since it wasn’t listed on the maintenance schedule. He immediately backpedaled and said, “well, I’ll have the technician look at them, and if he recommends a change, we’ll need to change them.”

      The car had 16K miles at the time, and I had taken a look myself before I took it in. He tried to get me to do a few other things too, but I stuck to my oil change (with my Mobil One that I brought) and other standard maintenance + recall work.

  • avatar
    ajla

    One thing I’d like to see from this series in the future is how shops set their prices.

    Is any kind of analysis ever done to see if they are at optimal levels?

    Why do so many shops cling to the seemingly inflated “book rate” so dearly?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      They are not necessarily inflated. Once you get good at a job you can do it faster, but not all things go that way. Also, the book times give you a consistency from an independent source. Do you want to pay times that a tech just makes up on the spot?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Do you want to pay times that a tech just makes up on the spot?”

        That’s pretty much exactly what I want. I don’t care about consistency, I care about what the particular shop I’m at will charge me to do a job. I don’t understand why an owner has to rely on a book to tell me that.

        You work for dealer shop, does Mercedes or your franchise owner ever examine your prices are at the best level? I’m guessing a lot of your prices are due to overhead costs, are the managers on top of that?

        I’m not talking about “I want you to fix my car for free”. I’m talking about “we can make more money by lowering the price of this service to increase the number of people accepting it”.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        As with so many products and services, shop rates will be largely based on the competitive situation — i.e. what other shops are charging. An independent shop will usually choose a price level somewhat below the dealers — how much below, will often depend on how aggressively the shop needs to go after new business.

        As for the book times, most customers want to know costs in advance. Charging actual times may result in a lower cost many times, but at other times you could pay double. Most customers don’t want this kind of uncertainty.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Without going on a rant about my own gripes with management at the my dealership I will say that the service manager does try to stay competitive in the area. That is one of the reasons are per hour rate rate is cheaper than the Chevy or Toyota stores right by us. The parts manager probably doesn’t do as much as he could and Mercedes gauges on some parts that make it less competitive compared to an aftermarket part.

        This is going off the topic of book rates. When quoting a job, especially if you are performing it for the first time, you need a reference as to how long it’s going to take. The book time is your reference. There are plenty of things you get a huge discount on. We have many labor rates that the book time is way more than the customer is charged. Labor on brakes is 2.5 hours on an E-class, but the customer is charged $125, just over an hour. The people never realize when they are getting the deal.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        What irks me about some shops and “book time” is that they will charge you book time if the job takes LESS time than the book says, but if they snap a bolt or something you are going to get nailed for the actual time they take to do the job. Having your cake and eating it too!

        MBella, your dealership sounds like one of the good ones out there – who are they? Always nice to have an idea of who the good guys are.

        I will say, my local Mercedes dealership is very reasonable too. Both parts and service. The probably make actual money selling cars… As per my previous post, not too impressed by the BMW dealers service dept at the moment. Which is fine, they can do any work on my car that BMW will pay for, but they aren’t getting any money out of me! We have two fantastic BMW indies here, and both have all the dealership level computer equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I kind of want to keep myself a bit anonymous as far as my employer goes. Are you in the Detroit area? If so I might have to figure out a way to get you the dealership info.

        We don’t charge you for breaking a bolt, but sometimes you do find more wrong if a car once you take something apart.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Mbella

        Understood. No – I’m in Maine, so not likely to be buying a car from your employer.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      On a lighter note, Dale Earnhardt JR said he could do an oil change in eight minutes when he was working at his dad’s dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        Number6

        If I had a lift in my garage, my dog could too. If I was paying somebody to change my oil, I’d want all of it out of the motor. That probably isn’t happening in eight minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ ajla It could always be worse. I had moved for a new job; air mattress and clothes in new location, the rest of my stuff 2 hours away waiting on the moving van. I needed an oil change and whipped into a quick lube place I know, I know don’t go to them; I needed an oil change. After they changed my oil they asked if it was AWD. My answer of yes resulted in an instant “Sir your transfer case needs maintenance done”. The oil change before that was done at an indy mechanic who works on Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I passed.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      They don’t all cling to the book rate, although I bet stealerships cling to it more than independents. My mechanic bills at actual time if it’s less than book, which it almost always is.

      But it wouldn’t be unfair to pay at book rate. If the mechanic can do it faster, it’s because they have experience, in which case you are benefiting from their expertise generally.

      This is true in other professions too — doctors, lawyers, etc.:
      “It’ll cost you $500.”
      “$500 for 10 mins your time?”
      “no, $500 for 20 years of experience and being able to identify on the spot that it will take 10 mins”

  • avatar
    MBella

    I can’t believe the alignment story. The part of the tech trying to rip you off like that is an unfortunate reality in today’s service world. Not enough of these places get inspected regular to prevent these kinds of things. The fact that they tried ripping off a shop owner who has been sending them work, and obviously knows what he’s talking about, on a car that has just had the entire suspension overhauled is mind boggling. It’s these king of idiots that make it harder to up sell an actual issue. I had a car that came in for an alignment where another shop just replace the outer tie-rods. The two inners were were loose and the customer didn’t believe me because the other shop said that I might try to do something like that. These kind of people give the business a very bad name, and they are way more common than we would like to believe.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      “It’s these kind(sic) of idiots that make it harder to up sell an actual issue.”

      Up-sell? An issue is an issue. Calling it an ‘up-sell’ is what makes us look at you like the shark you are.

      It is almost as if mechanics and shop personnel allude to having money for the $500 service they tell us is required every third month. This is why people like you don’t touch my cars. They run 200,000 miles just fine without your grubby hands laid on them :)

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I’m sure your tech doesn’t make money for the work he performs. I bet you also do your job without expecting compensation. You do it because you are a nice guy. It must by a nice world in your mind. However, in the real world it doesn’t work like that. McDonalds makes money on selling you a cheeseburger. Are you that naive. I have never sold a repair that didn’t need to be performed, and I can always show the customer why I have come to the conclusion that a said repair needs to be performed. However, at the end of the day, a sale is a sale. Would you rather prefer I didn’t look a car over for issues, and let a car with my example of loose inner tie rods onto the streets? Now that is a very big difference between that and the guy mentioned in the article who tried up-selling repairs that did not need to be performed.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        mbella, you sell flushes that don’t need to be performed, so any truth you claim stops right there.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    The best alignments I have ever had have been from hard core car guy friends in their garages…one an ex GM tech, the other a serious auto crosser.
    Nothing makes me cringe more than the thought of having some clown “align” my car until the monitor shows all green.
    When I have attempted my own alignments, It usually takes me all weekend, and I was never able to straighten the wheel perfectly.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Hunter alignment systems we use in final assembly plants are legit. I usually get mine done at a shop that has one. But you are trusting that the shop has a good calibration for you car.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The nice thing with the new Infrared Hunters is that there really isn’t any sort of calibration that it can lose. It’s quick and very accurate.

        lilpoindexter, I’m just wondering how much of an investment you had to make in tools to do your own alignments. Some of the kits I have seen are pretty expensive and very clumsy. Was that investment really worth the $50-$70 savings each time you need own, not to mention your time. I’m not trying to sound condescending but I didn’t think it was worth it. I have to pay to get them done too, because our alignment machine has Mercedes specific heads that will not mount to any other manufacturers wheels. If you found something cheep and easy let us know. Might be interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      I’ve had alignments botched and mangled so badly that I now only take my vehicles to a well known alignment specialty shop 30 miles from my house.

      Are proper alignments really that difficult to perform? Seems to me they are right under brain surgery in skill and precision required for a successful outcome.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I’ve found that, as long as all the components are good, they usually don’t involve much more than setting the front toe. Easy to do with only a tape measure, and you can decide where in the enormous allowable range you want to be.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Once again ;

    A very good thread ! .

    Some Customers just cannot ever be made happy .

    Being a Journeyman Mechanic my self , I may be one ~ I just had the engine replaced in a 1991 V6 Toyota Camry , it came back with disconnected heater valve and rotten tranny cooler hoses they’d clearly touched and cut too sort , used the wrong clamps so it failed on the freeway after maybe 100 miles , lucky I was driving so I *think* the tranny is O.K. .

    This after I _repeatedly_ told the Mechanic (a guy I know) and the shop owner that I wanted this done 100 % , no short cuts , no hassles just DO THE DAMN JOB and bugger the co$t .

    That Mechanics and Shop Owners cheat each other , boggles my mind and makes me glad I no longer own my own Shop .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    The non replaced plugs and coils I had. My Acura MDX, just out of warranty, was idling poorly. I ended up taking it three times to the dealer. They replaced nothing, then one coil, then two. They also claimed they replaced the spark plugs (and billed Acura). They refused to replace all six coils even though I’d been there three times-it wasn’t throwing a check engine light, so it didn’t exist. It was fun pounding the loaners, but it was getting tiresome.

    I decided to replace all the plugs and coils to see if I could fix this…and discovered that they never touched the coils in the back of the engine. It appears one of the back coils failed, and worse, all the plugs were clearly original. It was worth the $250 or so in parts, as the truck went back to sewing machine smooth. I never went back to the dealer, as it was clear to me that they’d never touched the rear plugs or coils.

    The service manager maintained that they did replace the plugs, as they had to send them back to Acura to get reimbursed. I replied that someone got fresh plugs, but it wasn’t me.

    • 0 avatar
      confused1096

      I’ve seen that a bunch. My ex-wife’s van still had the original two rear plugs, after it had been in for two dealership tune ups. Pretty sad as it was 9 years old when I met her.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I was nearly ripped off by a BP owned place, so when I saw the logo in the pic at the top of this thread, I had to laugh.

    My A/C went out on my 1993 Grand Cherokee, which had just come off warranty. I took it to the place as they had done some work for me in the past, and done a decent job of it, even though I thought it was overpriced. I went in and left it and walked home, about 2 miles away. Soon after I got home, they called and said the compressor was bad. I borrowed a neighbor’s car and went back, and I saw the leak detector dye puddled up under the front of the car, and instantly saw the condensor was cracked. There was no dye anywhere near the compressor. The boss comes out and said the compressor was leaking. I pointed to the crack and said, “It looks like that’s the problem there!”. He kind of swallowed and said, “Well, the compressor is bad too, the sniffer says so!”. I told him to get it ready, I’m leaving. He insisted the compressor was bad and got very angry when I rolled my eyes. I took it to the dealer, who almost instantly told me it would be a freebie, as it was a known issue. A new condensor fixed it for about a year and a half, when it cracked again, and was again, a freebie, and a year and a half later, fixed again for nothing. I traded it just before it was due again. Other than a drum brake issue soon after I got it, and the “death shake” when the steering stabilizer failed, it was the only major issue it had. I kept it the longest of any vehicle I ever had, and still wish I had it back. Maybe some other color but silver this time though. Silver gets boring fast, very fast.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I have a favorite recent shop story. I went to one of those places that does all but major repairs, set up was like a Pep Boys shop. They were advertising a $20 oil change, heck that’s cheaper then I can do it myself.

    I knew to expect them trying to sell me other stuff. That’s why the oil change is only $20, after all. They come back with a couple of things I know are an issue with my baby, I’d just bought it at that point and hadn’t had a chance to get them corrected.

    Then they announce I need major steering system work (that the alignment shop had somehow missed two weeks ago). This is followed by “You need new CV joints”–I drive a Grand Marquis. I politely thanked him and told him I’d have my regular mechanic look. I checked to make sure they’d done the oil change properly and left. I didn’t bother to yell or make a scene. If they’re crooked enough to recommend parts my car doesn’t have, nothing I’m going to say will make a dent. I bet there has been a lot of sabotage of perfectly innocent cars at that rat hole.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    my younger brother has an exceptionally nice merc 380SEc, a 1983. We picked it up for virtually nothing as the engine was rattling and running on 6 . The Po had been told that it had jumped a chain which is common on high mileage mercs of this era. I pulled the cam covers and the chain was worn out but it was OK as was the dreaded left hand tensioner. But the rockers were all loose.. not good on hydro tappets . I decided to do a quick oil change and do the filter. The filter had disappeared leaving only the center core and the end caps. The paper stuff had gone through the engine. I can only assume that 20-30 years of dodgy oil changes meant that only the oil was changed and the filter was left. The engine was worn out at less than 100,000 miles because of this. I picked up another used engine which had also been diagnosed with a broken chain and removed from the car. A quick check revealed this was actually OK, and did not need any work. The reason it had stopped was because the distributor was loose and it had turned ,causing a backfire and the engine to stop. It had just been serviced by a benz dealer ,who had sold the owner a new engine because they had diagnosed the broken cam chain ….

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I find the spark plugs at the Ford dealership most disturbing. I think everyone is a little on guard with independent mechanics of unknown reputation, but most people probably assume they at least get quality work performed for the fortune a dealership charges.

    For something as obnoxious as what’s described in this article, I would let Ford know about that. I like to think the manufacturer cares about what dealerships are doing to their brand image. Anyone working at a dealership have any thoughts on whether manufacturers actually care?

  • avatar
    rpn453

    You sure are a nice guy, Phil. On a good day, that guy at the alignment shop would get nothing more than an order to get the car off the hoist immediately, and everybody I know would hear about the rip-off attempt.

    No matter the hassle, I’ll do everything I possibly can myself. Even if it’s a horror show, at least I’ll learn something. My opinion of humanity is already low enough without having to deal with people like that.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States