When Bad Work Happens….

MARCH 18, 2012 – For years, the notion that women are likely to be ripped off in shops has been rampant. But really, it’s not just women, but rather, the unknowing in general who are at risk. At one time or another, we’ve all had issues with a repair shop. It’s why each Gasoline Girl wants to be proficient with her car. Knowledge is power, right?

Sadly, our girl Jessie recently went through some not-so-great stuff with her Falcon, Red.

After sitting for quite some time, she took the car to a shop and paid to have many things done—only to have to undo the bad work later with the help of G-Girls Rochelle and Jen. Like what? Jessie paid for a cooling flush, yet the cooling system remained rusty as can be.

This, after the girls flushed it three more times!

She paid for a new water pump and t-stat housing, yet coolant was not going through the water pump; instead, it was leaking from her t-stat, which was still covered in plastic and siliconed into place.The repair receipt said a 160 degree t-stat was installed, but it was in fact a 180. Plus, they’d put silicone on the old bolt because the threads were gone rather than replacing it.

Once the girls fixed those issues and got coolant flowing through the system, they noticed the petcock valve on the radiator was dripping. The guy who’d allegedly flushed her radiator charged her to repair the valve, but instead of doing it properly, had shoved a piece of metal pipe and pinched it to keep it from leaking, making it impossible to tighten or loosen the valve.

The girls removed the radiator, and off to a radiator shop they went. After getting it repaired properly, they once again fired up the car, and found the serpentine belt flapping around. Not only had it been installed upside down, it was in fact, the wrong sized belt for her car! This too, she’d paid to have done.

But that’s not all. Next problem? The car was leaking fuel from the hose at the fuel filter…and guess what? Yep! You got it! She just paid to have that replaced as well!

Jessie also paid the shop to sandblast and paint her air cleaner cover. Not only were chunks of old paint visible under the fresh paint, they also drilled two holes into the neck of the carburetor without asking.

And here’s the REAL kicker! The shop did all of this work knowing the engine was toast (bad rods, bearings…) He waited until after the work was done and paid for to tell Jessie that she needed to get her engine looked at!! Did it ever occur to them to be honest and tell their client that her 144 straight 6 should not sound like a Cummins diesel??

Clearly, this shop has a lot of explaining to do. Hopefully the owner steps up and does the right thing by Jessie, and returns the money for the things they did wrong. All in all, the girls could have probably done everything the shop charged her for, for less than $200 in parts, and of course, labor would have been free.

There is a shining nugget in all of this. Not all shops are bad! The girls found an amazing radiator shop in Rosemead called Harry and Son’s, who fixed the petcock valve, pressure tested the radiator, and wouldn’t take a dime of Jessie’s money. We owe them a big debt of gratitude for helping our girl out and being so very kind.

So how do we avoid having this happen again?

  • First of all, make sure the shop is licensed.  Check the B.A.R. (Bureau of Automotive Repair) for the status of their license and see if there have been any actions against them.
  • Ask the service writer if the mechanics are ASE certified, and in what area (engine, tranny, electrical, etc…). Make sure they are certified for your specific job.
  • If you’re not comfortable with the diagnosis, ask the mechanic to show you the problem, and if necessary, do a little research on your own via the Internet or advice from others before authorizing the work. Also, perhaps call around to other shops to make sure the estimate is fair for the specific job.
  • By law, shops are required to give you your old parts. This is a good idea so you know they actually did the work. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them to show you the repairs they’ve done, and if they balk at this, be suspicious. It might not even be a bad idea to mention at the beginning that you’ll want to see the repairs.
  • And lastly, check out your car when you pick it up and take it for a brief test-drive with the service adviser or the mechanic riding shotgun. This way, if the car still makes the “funny noise” or “runs rough” or “pulls to the side” when you hit the brakes, he/she will be right there to witness it. Don’t take the car unless you are satisfied.
  • If all else fails, and the shop doesn’t make good, contact the Bureau of Automotive Repair to file an action.

As for Red, her problems did in fact go beyond what the girls fixed. It seems her motor and tranny are truly done for. Stay tuned for status updates on Red’s road to recovery!

Many thanks to new Gasoline Girl participants Rochelle and Jen for jumping right into the spirit of the club and helping out a fellow member. You both truly embody what a Gasoline Girl is all about!