Cherry-picking garages

'94 Tbird LX V8, 73k city miles.
Had the clunk in the front, looked like stabilizer end-links, got some, put car on rack, part of strut rod bushings are hanging down, etc.
Inna nutshell, I decided to replace front control arms (with ball-joints, bushings, etc), end-links, and strut rod bushings. Took 3+ weeks to get Moog, Ford parts lined up and delivered.
I can't do the work. Gotta find a responsible mechanic.
Garage 1 - Uses Alldata. Sums labor for individual replacement of components. Comes to 10 hours, ~$1k. Sizable neighborhood garage with 7-8 bays. Garage 2 - Mech. actually looks suspension over, sez maybe 4 hours labor. Garage is a Ford dealer. Garage 3 - Indicates it might take a lot more than 4 hours. Decidedly reluctant to estimate labor cost. Small neighborhood garage with 3 bays.
G1 won't even look at the car. Sez they will -have- to, say, replace lower control arm, reconnect strut arm, then remove same (to pull strut rod, replace bushings, etc, etc). This would be insanely unnecessary work/charges. Either they are a front for black market <something> or, for unknown reason, just don't want to do the work. I stop by G2 to tell mech. I'll have all the parts next week, mech. hems/haws/kinda mumbles in his beer. Next week I find he's gone on vacation (didn't bother to tell me). Decidedly un-enthused about doing work. Still probably my best bet so far.
G3 doesn't want to commit, has the experience to estimate, doesn't even want to look at car. Obviously wants to bill, bill, bill for labor.
All these birds can make more money working for prototypical "Little Old Ladies" (and the like) and they know it.
Suspension isn't in that bad a shape. Sure, they might have to fire a torch to heat a stubborn bolt or 2, but the work is do-able and not tremendously time consuming. Near as I can tell, all they gotta do is pull the old stuff off the spindles and install the new.
What am I doing wrong? Should I just keep looking for a hungry but responsibly experienced shop?
TIA, P
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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On 5/24/2012 11:14 PM, Puddin' Man wrote:

Many mechanics don't care to work on old cars. They see something old and they think the repair will be more trouble than it is worth.
Suggestions,
Many underpaid state, local, town DPW mechanics make extra money on the weekends working in their well stocked home garage. Most know their stuff. Ask around. I've also found Ford dealer mechanics that work for themselves from there homes on weekends.
Off the beaten path shops in economically depressed areas. They know their stuff, work on rust mobiles all the time, charge reasonable fees. The place may look like a sh*t house, but they can do the work at a reasonable price.
The key is asking around.
Steve
1995 T-Bird LX 4.6 85,000 miles
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On 5/24/2012 11:14 PM, Puddin' Man wrote:

I'd keep looking...
I use a garage that I've been using for 25 years now. I've moved away during that time and still drive the 25 miles to go to them. They only have 3 bays, and the only issue is that they are so dang busy, as long as your not in a rush to get your car back super fast on more complex things than oil changes and inspections, they are fair and do good work. You can bring your own parts - They don't care...In fact, I think they almost like it as it saves them time and keeps them in the bays working.
They are an old time garage. Dirty, oily, transmission and engine parts laying on the floor in the "waiting room", which has an old leather couch that probably used to be in the owners living room at one point. There are no computer cash registers....Mmmmm...My kind of place and what a real garage should be! :)
I do a lot of my own work, but sometimes, there are just jobs you have no time,equipment or the stomach for. I brought in my 93 Buick Skylark 2 weeks ago when the heater core started going. Windows steaming up, overwhelming smell of burn antifreeze inside that I had to drive with the windows open, and was starting to overheat. I wasn't going to do that job...That car is a bitch to get to the core. Brought it in for the heater core and they found a leaking freeze-plug as well. So - new heater core and freeze-plug, in which they had to take off the exhaust manifold to get to, plus labor. I had asked them to call after diagnosing. They did and I had them go ahead with the fix as total price was $435+tax. Just picked it up yesterday and dropped off my 1999 F-150 for NYS inspection, and having them do an oil and tranny service on it. I went to pay him for the Buick when I dropped off the truck and he told me not to bother - He'd just put it all on one bill. He joked that he could get more money for my F-150 than the Buick if I didn't come back to pay...lol
The point is, you can find those places if you want. They are out there....
...but it's like trying to find a good Chinese or Pizza place when you move to a new town...You end up going through a whole bunch before you find "the one", but when you do, you'll never go back to one of the other places. :)
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I knew of such a shop years ago and took all the work-I-didn't-do to them for years. They went out of business around 1990.
Methinks I'm suffering from big-city disease, would expect less of such problems in smaller towns and out the country. But there's damned little I can do about it (for a number of reasons).
Thanks, P
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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On Thu, 24 May 2012 22:14:41 -0500, Puddin' Man

particularly a dealership. You kinda shot yourself in the foot a wee bit there. The 4 hour time by the dealer sounds right - if everything goes right it might take less - BUT it is a 1994, so SOMETHING is bound to NOT go right - which makes it pretty difficult to give an accurate estimate. If a few parts are well rusted in place, the time COULD virtually double - and since he is not making a penny on the parts, he has no wiggle room.
When I was a mechanic working on the bench for a living - and when I was a service manager at a dealership, I was DEFINITELY not enthused about doing work with A) used or B) customer supplied parts.
So good luck.
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On Fri, 25 May 2012 14:31:36 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

No. Ford shot me in the foot. If it were up to Ford, the car would be on the junk heap.
Parts availability from Ford is sketchy as hell. My only dependable source of info was TCCOA. I petty much followed their recommendations ordering parts. Loose bushings from Ford-online. Control arms etc from Moog. Had very little choice.

How long ago was that? A lot has changed.
All I see is the hustle. In an admittedly shady industry, they seek to put themselves in a position to fleece somebody. This explains much of what I'm seeing.

You bet!
P
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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On Fri, 25 May 2012 14:46:45 -0500, Puddin' Man

@0 ish years - still have little brother in the business. He has enough problems with parts HE sources and has to return because they are defective, mispackages, or otherwize no good.

Sadly there ARE too many crooks in that business (just like in any other) but going in with the attitude that they are all crooks, all out to get you - doesn't get you anywhere or make you any friends. There are as many good auto mechanics out there as there are good plumbers, electricians, carpenters, doctors, and lawyers.
What you need to do is find one that friends or associates are happy with, go to them and tell them how you found them - that they come highly recommended, and would they be willing and able to do this job for you. You know parts are not easy to find, so you've done all the sourcing. Tell them what you have, what you want done, and ask them for a quote - within a range. " it will cost you a minimum of $X, more likely $Y, and possibly as high as $Z. It's based on $A per hour - straight time, plus $B for supplies - is that acceptable?" is the response you are looking for.
On an older vehicle NOBODY likes working "by the book" - and those (usually the ones that fall loosely into the class of "crook") will charge straight time, or more, for EVERY little snag they run into, over and above the "book" time - or like the one you ran into, charge for 5 or 6 jobs, separately, that are each part of one job.

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