need advice on bad car repair

Hi, I don't know if there is anything I can do about this, so at the very least it will make me feel better writing about.
About a month and a half ago, my car started making a grinding sound
under the hood. I took it to this local mom and pop type of car repair place and had it checked out. The mechanic said it needed a harmonic balancer, and replaced the part. So, he replaced the part, I payed and drove away.
Within a few blocks of leaving the place, my car started shaking violently in the front end. After driving a couple of miles with this violent shaking and trying to find a place to turn around, I finally made it back to the place where they did the "repair". The Mechanic did some kind of check and found that the wrong part was delivered by the auto parts store and he would have to order a different one.
Since that repair, we have noticed that the steering wheel is very loose and progressively is getting worse. The bend where you can adjust the height for the driver's comfort seems to be where something has loosened or broke within. We also have had to replace the half axles on each side of the car, plus a ball joint on the passenger side (we have been told that the lower ball joint on the driver's side will need replaced soon by another mechanic)
We are wondering if when the wrong harmonic balancer was put in, could it have caused the other problems? There did not seem to be a problem prior to that repair. Especially the steering wheel. A friend has suggested that we should take this guy to small claims court, for the damage done to the car. Does anyone have any help or suggestions on how to handle this matter? I'm losing sleep at night over this. Any help or suggestions are appreciated. Thank You
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Scott wrote:

NO relationship what so ever. Is this a real post or a joke?
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The only possible connection I can see would be the half shafts, and even that would be a stretch, IMO. I'm betting the car has high miles and is just starting to nickel and dime you to death. Not sure what you wanted to hear, but there it is.
Dave
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I agree. Even a total idiot of a mechanic would have a hard time ruining ball joints, CVs and the column with a balancer replacement. GM tilt columns are somewhat notorious for being, well, broken.
On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 20:27:27 -0700, Dave Brower wrote:

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remove 'spamsucks' from mail addy for replies.
I fart in Darl McBride's general direction.
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I don;t agree with the way Ian rants, however, I agree with his view. The harmonic balancer may be associated with the 1/2 axles, however, a couple of mile drive would not have caused the failures you indicated. You could take it to small claims court, but you would have a hard time proving that the repair caused the failures, especially the seat adjustment and steering.
Mike.

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"Scott" wrote

Right....this is the sort of stuff we see all the time. "You just put the harmonic balancer on, now the steering column is loose"....yeah, right!!!
It's always the fault of the guy that touched it last. No wonder you have to work so hard to cover your ass with customers like this.
Ian
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shiden_kai wrote:

Sounds dubious in this case, but it does happen. I have HAD it happen. Went to a chain automotive store once to have struts put on my taurus. Picked up the car and barely got two blocks. Virtually NO BRAKES! Took it right back. It was closing time so no time to discuss the matter. The brakes were fine before i took it in. Got the car the next day. They assured me all was well. Took off. Brakes worked now. Got 3 miles away going down hill and the back end of the car started violently shaking and moving around. I limped the car back to one of the chain store locations and left it over the weekend. There was a strut tension arm on the rear struts that had its nut come off. This allowed one of the rear control arms to literally flop around.
Called monday. after a few rounds with them, they claimed that this was NOT there fault and that this part had nothing to do with the repair they did. (severe cover there ass mode). I had a shop manual which showed how to change the struts. It showed removing the strut tension arm nut to do the job. I took the manual to the shop with the sections highlighted and politely told the service manager he was full of it. And demanded they make it right or else. This time, all was well. They even put in new rear springs for free. But i had to call their bluff that they were blameless.
Although i agree some people try to take advantage of a situation, mechanics DO make mistakes or get careless. And you have to have the balls to standup for yourself if you think your getting the shaft.
You might want to comment on this Ian. What about customers who paid hundred of dollars on a repair only to find it did not fix the problem? Granted, a mechanic can find a part that tests or looks bad a replace it the may not be related to the original problem. But what about just throwing parts at the problem that does not fix it? Should the customer pay for the mechanics lack of ability?
BOB
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"BOB URZ" wrote

In the case that you mention, it's pretty obvious that the repair that they did was easily connected to the resulting failure. I'm talking about totally unrelated items. Installing a harmonic balancer has nothing to do with a steering column going loose, unless the common denominator is a very large technician who got mad and reefed on the steering wheel. But from a technical point of view, there would be no relationship between the balancer installation and a loose steering wheel. And I don't see one between the half shafts and the balancer either, as there would be no need to fool with the half shafts or the front suspension in order to replace a harmonic balancer

We have procedures in place in our dealership to deal with this sort of problem. In the case of a "comeback", our shop foremen go over the problem with the technician and try to determine what the problem is, and our dealership is quite happy to either refund money, or continue the repair for free. You cannot rip the customer off if the problem "should" have been caught the first time around. We are supposed to be the experts and the customer is relying on us to make sure the repair will fix it. Believe me, in a large shop like ours, we try to make sure we look after the customer as fairly as possible. In fact, I'm often amazed at the amount of money that our service manager just writes off. On scenario's that are clearly not our fault, but end up being an attempt to placate a customer.

No, of course not. Obviously, it happens all the time. I had a van in recently that had been over on the "tune-up" side of the shop. The "driveablity" tech had spent over four hours trying to track down a "miss". Of course, his scan tool could easily pick the misfire on #6, but he wanted to replace plugs, wires, cap, rotor, 02 sensor, etc. None of that fixed anything, still a miss on #6....so then I get it to pull a valve cover off and check for cam lobe lift and/or broken valve springs. A couple of things....late model engines with roller lifters almost "never" have problems with either the lifters or cam lobes. And a broken valve spring is almost always accompanied by some valve train noise...which this vehicle didn't have.
Anyway, it turned out the intake gasket had slipped out of position around the #6 intake port and was sucking air from inside the engine. Spraying fluid from outside the engine wouldn't pick up this vacuum leak, but the original tech never even tried to either use a vacuum guage, or try to inject some type of fluid into the crankcase area of the engine. He was content to merely throw the parts at it that paid well. I believe on that job, we charged the customer for the intake manifold gasket replacement and didn't charge them for the other work. Why should we?
But there are many other scenario's where we get the gears from customers for problems that are totally unrelated to the original work. And there are plenty of scenario's where you are unable to pinpoint the exact problem due to the problem is not happening when you get the vehicle in to work on it. In this case, I prefer to have the customer drive the thing until it acts up all the time, rather then attempt to just guess. In some instances, we can make educated guesses based on lots of experience with a particular engine/vehicle...etc. But I usually warn either the service advisor or the customer that it's a guess at best.
As far as my original response, I probably am a little defensive about the trade. There are plenty of crooked techs, but when you've been in the trade for a while, you get to see all the crooked customers too. Or the customers that have some "friend" or "boyfriend", or "uncle" who used to be a "mechanic" and that guy is telling them that we are ripping them off...etc. Happens all the time.
Ian
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I definatly have seen plenty of this. My usual response to that is "Then why didn't you have them work on it?"
We had one lady come in the other day with a junk ass Ford Tempo that looked like it would break down if you just stared at it hard enough...
We had done an oil change on it earlier in the day (only had 1 quart of oil in it, BTW) and she came back bitching a fit that her transmission wouldn't shift now. I informed her that changing oil has nothing to do with the transmission. I also looked at the car (which had 184,000 miles on it) and I told her that there was nothing we could do to help her.
She informed me that her "man" knows a hell of a lot more about cars than I do, and he says it's our fault... well I told her that she can go get her "man" and bring him back and HE can try to explain to me how it's our fault.
They never came back... lol, idiots.
Tony
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On 3 Dec 2003 18:38:08 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@frontiernet.net (Tony Kimmell) wrote:

customer? ;-)
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If he knows so much about cars, why'd he let her car get down to one quart of oil? People are morons.
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