Two different garages...one fixed it the other didn't...what should I do?

I took my 1994 Buick Lesabre into the dealership and left it with the Buick garage and I got the car late this afternoon (all along I thought it was the
PCM, all the various problems which were somewhat related only by one thing...all connected through the PCM, power loss to the car, battery light always on, cruise refusing to stay engaged, pulsing lighting in the dash, sluggish engine performance, even the headlights on the car were dim, including the car refusing to stay running after starting.)Sure enough it was the PCM. (main computer under passenger side, some call it the ECM)
That being said, the other garage I first took it to was not Buick (had positive experiences in the past) to fix this problem failure to remain running after starting... they decided to rip me a new one at the tune of $600+ for replacing the passkey module to fix the problem which ultimately did not resolve the problem! After talking to people from various sites and at buick, I've pretty much come to the conclusion the passkey module controls both gas flow and the engine turning over. Now when I first got the car towed to them it turned over like a charm! No matter how many times I tried starting it, it wouldn't start! The more I tried, the more I smelled gas, so that right there rules out a faulty passkey module, the engine was getting gas and it was turning over.
The non Buick garage charged me $600 the first time and I got stranded from the same problem at work a few weeks later and had to get the car towed after they supposedly "fixed it" The second time they looked at it, the car started working again so for the heck of it, tacked another $100 to the bill that they couldn't find a thing wrong. I had to get the car towed AGAIN this week and decided to go to Buick this time and now the problem is actually fixed and I've never seen the car run this nicely.
I am on a payment plan with these people and have not yet begun to pay them, what options do I have open to me? What can I do to pursue this garage because they didn't fix the problem! I'm being charged for tests, labor, and most importantly an expensive passkey module that did NOT need replacing! Even more importantly, even before I got them to work on the car, I told them I suspected a faulty PCM after reading up on the problem, and they blew me off saying it couldn't possibly be that and didn't even bother to check. After being towed twice after being "fixed" and charged $600 for something that wasn't the culprit, how can I deal with these people that they can't shaft me with the ole "it's a combination of a faulty PCM and passkey module that resulted in your car not starting.
Because if indeed this passkey module does control both gas and engine turnover, I didn't have a problem with either one! The car would simply die right after letting the key return to the running position after hearing the engine running.
I would really appreciate some input on what options are open to me and what evidence I need to gather to prove my case.
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Once you have a garage (whom you obviously must do a lot of business with, - a payment plan?) selected to repair your vehicle you've locked your self in to dealing with them once the repairs start. Now that being said if you go to them and tell them they didn't fix the car and you took it else where their most probable response is going to be "You should have brought it back to us".
So I really doubt that they will accommodate you regardless of any evidence that you have, unless your relationship with them is that good. Once you agreed to pay them and then decided on your own to not involve them with the ultimate solution of the car you basically gave up any recourse that you had with them.
If it were me and if they are letting you make payments they must know you pretty well, I'd go and discuss the issue with them and try to settle on a lesser amount to pay. If you decide to not pay them they can haul you into court where the judge will decide who is at fault. And to the judge you stuck them with a repair bill regardless of who finally fixed the vehicle.
my 2 cents
Brian
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Yes but I DID take it back to them after it happened again for a second time, they just simply told me, it worked fine, here we're tacking on another $100, I shouldn't have had to pay for that, it was taken in for the SAME problem. I don't have the funds to keep taking in the car to the same people when they don't fix it and tell me not to worry, it's been towed TWICE since they "fixed" it. They gave me a short period of time where they had a warranty on their work, what's the point in taking it back to them after their flimsy 30 day warranty runs out? After it occurred a 2nd time it was getting close to the end of the one month warranty, the third time it occurred outside that time frame.
I talked with them after the 2nd tow and they said the owner would get in contact with me, and NEVER did, it by that point had run for a few weeks and I left it at that. When you are at $700 and they are just randomly replacing parts on the car and you get stranded for the THIRD time and pay for yet another tow for the exact same problem I don't feel obligated to stay locked in with them for yet another "repair" and get stranded yet again. I cannot afford to constantly call into work and use the same excuse "I can't come in again, car troubles" I am getting sick and tired of taking time off to go to state farm to file for a refund for towing and then going to the bank. I am now on a first name basis with my insurance company, and they right off the bat know why I am there yet again.
The car had so many problems before the computer was replaced, now that it's replaced it runs like a brand new car, nothing is broken now. I had 5-6 known problems these people knew about as I had told them, but they did not put 1+1 together to think just for a second, all these problems had one thing in common, all were connected to the ECM. When I initially took it into them, it was for driving along, suddenly all electrical power to the car died and I was coasting, their diagnosis? A bad battery connection, comeon now, I've had cars jumped where I disconnected the battery from the system and it ran just fine with no battery.
These people obviously cannot properly repair a Buick, they told me "oh it could never be the ECM, the ECM's never go in those cars, I've never had to replace an ECM, it couldn't possibly by that" When they are so hell bent on not listening to you and you are proven to be correct all along, you start questioning the validity of paying these people for something never fixed, that the customer is NEVER right.

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I agree with you that you shouldn't have to pay for repairs that aren't fixed. But you did select them and by doing so gave them the right to do what they felt was right. Now having said that I agree that they probably don't have the ability to fix the issues that you had. But you still need to work it out with them. By not paying the bill and ending up in court your negotiating is severely limited, as like I said the judge will decide. If the owner won't call you back track him down, people are much less likely to take advantage of someone who is assertive.
When I need to have a repair performed that I either can't do, or don't want to do I take my vehicles to a Chevy dealer near where I work. The first few times they tried to give me the bums rush and tell me that I needed this and that. I know enough to tell them that I want only what I want fixed at the price they quoted me. Now that I've established with them I'm not an easy mark they only call me during a repair if there is truly a problem.
It's a shame that we have to be that way but remember the old saying, "Buyer Beware".
Brian
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wrote:

I think what the OP is getting at is that considering the problem wasn't fixed he shouldn't have to pay for the repairs that were attempted. Consider this: you take you vehicle in for a no fuel condition, they do some testing and decide the pump is bad so they replace it. Only to find out that te pump wan't bad, it was some wiring between the pump and the ECM or the relay. Now, that pump's been installed, they really can't return it to the shelf, would you expect to have to pay for that part if it wasn't the actual solution? I wouldn't like to. In the OP's words (maybe paraphrased), they "fixed" the vehicle, only to have the problem return, meaning they really didn't fix it. I wouldn't be happy paying for a repair that didn't fix my vehicle...
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And I'm in 100% agreement with that as well. But let's change the scenario a little, he has an agreement to pay the repair bill by payments. There for it's much easier to go elsewhere when you aren't happy with the service. Even though he is entitled to get a repaired vehicle for his money, had he paid the entire repair bill when he picked the car up he wouldn't have never taken the car elsewhere when the problem reoccurred. I'm just trying to keep it in perspective. If one would pay for repairs and then have the problem reoccur they would be back at the same garage to work it out.
Brian
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You aren't just paying for labor. You are also paying for expertise. They shouldn't be replacing parts that are good. Even people without the specific expertise on a certain model have available detailed service manuals they can purchase on paper or CDROM. There are troubleshooting flow charts. I think if those are followed, the correct problem is usually found the 1st time, and most of the flow charts suggest TESTING of certain parts to determine if they are bad; not just replacing parts based on a general and non specific notions of auto repair.
I am willing to bet that in this person's case, the factory service manuals would have pointed to the PCM, and would have had a way to rule out the PASSKEY system. That's probably why the Buick garage fixed the problem the 1st time they got it.
On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 22:15:44 GMT, Mike Levy

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SgtSilicon wrote:

What you have to realize is that not all repairs are "BLACK and WHITE". Meaning, look at this symptom on the smoking gun is always this. The service manual is a guide, not a absolute source to ID every problem ever possible. There can be many causes for the same problem. Including wiring and intermittiants. The original tech probably went down the list and replaced what they thought the problem was. And since it probably did not misbehave when the first tech had it, he was taking his best opinion on the problem. Intermittiants can be a bitch. The dealer of course was told about the pass key module just being replace. Otherwise they might have gone the same route. Its always easy after the fact to say that they should have known better. Trouble shooting is an art. And sometimes not a exact science. Sometimes you have to replace blocks or modules to rule them out. Unfortunately in this case, the OP had to pay for them.
Its unfortunate that the first independent shop did not show a more customer service attitude after the original problem as not solved. If you have a good independent shop you trust, keep it.
Its also possible it was NOT the PCM. A bad or slightly corroded connection may have been fixed by the simple undoing and replacing the PCM cables. Or ground for that matter.
Bob
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asking to talk to the owner or manager, not some customer pleasing flunky. Then state your case calmly but firmly. State that the vehicle was never fixed after $700 and 2 attempts. Therefore, you are fully entitled to take it somewhere where it could be properly fixed. And they did properly fix it the first time. I would not mention that you thought it was the PCM all along. You are not a certified mechanic to tell him that, and it only comes off as an "I told you so" kind of statement. Then I would say you do not feel you should pay for someone's misdiagnosis. Tell them that any reputable shop would not charge you for their mistakes. It is not your fault the mechanics ability was lacking. I have many years of GM experience and can tell you the pass key module replacement for your symptoms was really a weak decision. You owe no shop anything. You paid for a service the first day you went there for the problem. You got misdiagnosis(ripped off) Some people believe that the same shop that ripped you off deserves a second TRY at the problem to continue to try to diagnose the car when they failed at it the first time and cost you money. Did they take a snapshot of the readings with a scan tool under various conditions to try to diagnose it. Or even put a meter on a wire. There are too many flunkie mechanics that diagnose by guessing. They think well, it sounds like it could be this part or module. Sounds like it could be? You don't diagnose with that thinking. Almost any circuit on a car can be tested either with a hand held meter that reads frequency or a handheld scope or a scantool. If they are too stupid to use these to correctly diagnose,they should gain some knowledge because they just give the rest of us a bad name(and cause your problem)Please remind them of the fact that these circuits can be tested and ask them which device they used to prove the module that was really good was bad? If they will not work with you at all, I would try the person highest in the organization. If it is a chain, you have a better chance of success by contacting the corporate office. Most of the time, these things can be resolved. But the person you are talking to at the shop is going to see what he can get away with before he decides to give up anything. They will try lines like" well if your PCM went out a couple weeks later, we can't help that. But your symptoms never went away. Keep us posted.
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If you were a lawyer:
You'd be disbarred!
You have to pursue this legally. Use the remedies the state gives you, i.e.: The Attorney General's Office, Department Of Consumer Affairs.
If you don't pay, the shop has the right to sue you for non payment, and a good chance to win.
You must document your complaints by certified and ground mail to the shop, and caption the letter stating that you sent the messages both certified and USPS ground mail. After you establish a paper trail, you can use that as a defense, even if they refuse the certified letter.
Refinish King

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I haven't paid yet because they only recently sent me my first bill, it was due after the date of writing the initial article, since it's sort of a holiday weekend, I haven't been able to talk to anyone since the shop is closed and I just submitted the first payment. Which is why I'm asking for any/all advice on where I should start, I'm not one to default on payments, even in this situation, but I would like to persue the matter and either stop paying or get a reduction in the overall bill. It's not acceptable paying $1200 between the two shops to fix a simple thing like not remain running.
Wish I had been more headstrong though, call Buick, order the part, when in stock, drive over there, yank the old pcm out, give it to them, get the core charge discount, walk out with new pcm, install, and drive off. I take it into these people in hopes THEY will fix it, not come to this conclusion I made the mistake in not listening to myself because in the end I was the one proven correct and I'm not even the mechanic! I have enough know how to successfully look the info up and do most of the work myself. I would have saved the hassle of being stranded three times, three tow bills, three visits to my insurance company. Would have cost me $350-$400 after core charge and no labor costs, and no time lost at work since I could easily switch it out on my lunch hour and easily have the $$$ to have it paid off with money to spare.
I had a friend who had a 1994 VW, the car lost a LOT of power, to the point the car would quit on the highway. He took it to the VW dealership, they charged him hundreds of dollars, still the same problem. He was told the computer reset if the car was started and did not occur during that drive, that the problem went away, that they had to get it while the car was running right after it happened so the data would not be erased, they replaced all sorts of parts including the MAF sensor. Problem is, when this problem did occur, they wanted him to conform to appointments that sometimes ended up in a one to two day backlog. He took it to a garage across from the dealership when the problem occurred right after leaving VW, they came out, hooked up the computer, and it was a faulty $70 sensor, he did not charge him for the test nor any labor and scheduled him for an appointment the very next day.
These days I do not like mechanic's over reliance on car computers that obviously do not always help. You got to love how they charge for the computer diagnostics that are nothing more than plugging this handheld computer into a jack on the car, and get error codes that take only minutes to obtain, and see $100 for a computer diagnostic that took no effort to get. It's a computer, it keeps records, a computer is much faster than a mechanic can be at fault location recording, it wrote the error code down in memory, it's not rocket science for it to display an error code it recorded in well under 30 mins. I've seen how it works, and the mechanic doesn't do much to obtain any codes recorded, it should be part of the overall time in labor and not as some over priced "specialized" test.

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Not if it can be established that there was fraud involved. In this case if it were me I wouldn't pay or I would pay only a token payment, and I would immediately file a small claims lawsuit.
If you don't pay they can't do anything other than turn you over to collections, and by the time that they do that, and by the time that the collections agency gets around to threatening you with being sued, a small claims process is going to be over with.
Keep in mind the process of paying and the process of establishing whether you own them anything are two separate issues. Legally you owe them the money, until a court (or negotiation) establishes otherwise. But if there is litigation pending (ie: your small claims) then a collection agency isn't going to touch it.
I would also not bother trying to call the owner and work it out. They already had their chance to do this and blew you off. Once you get your claim filed they will have plenty of chance to work things out within the guidelines of the court. That also prevents delaying and stalling actions on their part. And it also documents any attempts that they make to work it out.
The simple fact is that they represented to you that they were going to perform a service (fix your car) they had a fair chance to do it, and instead deliberately did a repair procedure that a second garage verified wasn't even part of the broken system. That looks pretty much like deliberate fraud, and misrepresentation of what business they are in.
I know that most repair places do not want to be out money, and so they try to play this game that your paying them to "work on the car" rather than your paying them to "fix the car" In short the implication is that somehow they have no responsibility to actually do the repair correctly, and that you should have to pay for their training and eduction as they experiment with different repair procedures. But a shop is not legally obligated to work on your broken vehicle when you bring it in to them. When they accept your vehicle to work on it, they accept responsibility for fixing it correctly in a reasonable time/cost (ie: book time) that is why they all use computer programs to determine how much to charge you, rather than measuring how long it actually took (unless of course it takes longer than book time)
Ted
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They can sue him first!
Refinish King

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"Refinish King3" wrote: > They can sue him first! > > Refinish King > >
> > &nbsp;> > If you were a lawyer: > &nbsp;> > > &nbsp;> > You'd be disbarred! > &nbsp;> > > &nbsp;> > You have to pursue this legally. Use the remedies > the state gives you, > > i.e.: > &nbsp;> > The Attorney General's Office, Department Of > Consumer Affairs. > &nbsp;> > > &nbsp;> > If you don't pay, the shop has the right to sue you > for non payment, and > a > &nbsp;> > good chance to win. > &nbsp;> > > > > > Not if it can be established that there was fraud involved. > In this case > if > > it were > > me I wouldn't pay or I would pay only a token payment, and I > would > > immediately > > file a small claims lawsuit. > > > > If you don't pay they can't do anything other than turn you > over to > > collections, and > > by the time that they do that, and by the time that the > collections agency > > gets around > > to threatening you with being sued, a small claims process > is going to be > > over with. > > > > Keep in mind the process of paying and the process of > establishing whether > > you > > own them anything are two separate issues. Legally you owe > them the > money, > > until a court (or negotiation) establishes otherwise. But > if there is > > litigation pending > > (ie: your small claims) then a collection agency isn't going > to touch it. > > > > I would also not bother trying to call the owner and work it > out. They > > already > > had their chance to do this and blew you off. Once you get > your claim > filed > > they > > will have plenty of chance to work things out within the > guidelines of the > > court. > > That also prevents delaying and stalling actions on their > part. And it > also > > documents > > any attempts that they make to work it out. > > > > The simple fact is that they represented to you that they > were going to > > perform a > > service (fix your car) they had a fair chance to do it, and > instead > > deliberately > > did a repair procedure that a second garage verified wasn't > even part of > the > > broken system. > > That looks pretty much like deliberate fraud, and > misrepresentation of > what > > business they are in. > > > > I know that most repair places do not want to be out money, > and so they > try > > to > > play this game that your paying them to "work on the car" > rather than your > > paying them > > to "fix the car" In short the implication is that somehow > they have no > > responsibility > > to actually do the repair correctly, and that you should > have to pay for > > their training > > and eduction as they experiment with different repair > procedures. But a > > shop is not > > legally obligated to work on your broken vehicle when you > bring it in to > > them. When > > they accept your vehicle to work on it, they accept > responsibility for > > fixing it correctly > > in a reasonable time/cost (ie: book time) that is why they > all use > computer > > programs > > to determine how much to charge you, rather than measuring > how long it > > actually took > > (unless of course it takes longer than book time) > > > > Ted > > > >
You have to make a good and fair effort to work with the garage before taking them to small claims court. If you go to court without trying to work it out with the garage first, the judge will side with them. The garage will go into court and say that the part they replaced was bad and that they would have worked with you but you did not give them a chance. Some garages will even bring a bad part into court claiming it was yours and demonstrate why they say it is bad.
Remember, they are considered, "experts" and no other mechanic looked at your car prior to them replacing the part so that is pretty cut and dry. In the future, ask for your old parts to be returned. If you had the old part, you could pay a dealership to install and test it. If it is bad, pay the garage. If it is good, make a half hearted attempt to get your money back then take them to court with a avidavit from the delearship certifying the part is good and did not need to be replaced.
That being said, I would explain to the owner that their efforts still left a problem in your car and according to the delearship where you took it, they will certify that there is no way the part they replaced could cause your symptoms. Also explain that you are willing to contact several other delearships and GM if you need to. You must show him that you are prepared to go the distance if this thing goes to court.
I would then ask to pay for the parts only and he eats the labor. You might even try to pay for parts and 50% labor. This will show the small claims judge that you were willing to accept some responsibility but that you didnt feel obligated for the entire bill since it did not fix the problem. If the garage refuses your offer, take a friend and try to get them to sign that they refused your offer. Take your friend to court as your witness that you attempted to resolve this disagreement with other than legal means. Chances are this wont go to court.
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Their own mechanics actually admitted that they took the dash out and "manually" traced the problem down to a faulty passkey module and replaced it. Which for me translates into "we hooked it up to the computer, the computer did not give any error codes and so we decided to charge lots of hours and labor for one of our mechanics to unnecessarily rip your dash out and run these manual tests. From what I have read up on the 1994 Buick lesabres, is that the PCM gives error codes for everything EXCEPT the computer! It was one of the first generation cars to use such an extensive use of a computer to regulate the car's systems, unfortunately they forgot to give the computer the ability to self diagnose itself and give it it's own error code. It gives fault codes for anything attached to it, but even if it was brain-dead it wouldn't give a code.
I wish I could find some information somewhere on what the 1994 Buick passkey module does, so if they give me this runaround of it was a combination of the two that caused this, pay the bill. I can say "this is the official documentation of a Buick passkey module, when I initially took this car in, it was to resolve the car not remain running, that here right on the bill, it says the car turns over but doesn't start. If it was the passkey module, it would have prevented my car from even turning over, here is the documentation that proves this is the case, here is the bill from Buick, where it lists the exact same issue with the car as listed on this bill. From my dealings after the 2nd visit I am getting the impression that their mechanic knows everything and he couldn't have possibly made a mistake.
I ask myself this constantly because I have extensive knowledge in computers, why would one have to take most of the dash out to do testing on the circuit? The people at Buick had the car most of the day, and when I talked to the mechanic Gary he said he tested almost all the circuits in the car, for shorts and whatnot, not once did he mention taking out the dash, let alone seeing labor on the bill for removal of the dash, he simply said the computer did not come back with any error codes, and after testing all the circuits that had this problem, all came back negative for problems, so he took a PCM off the shelf, called me a few mins later and told me the car was starting again and asked if I wanted it installed.
I plan to go in Monday and do my best to talk with the owner. With two tow bills and all my receipts I hope I get somewheres.
My parents bought a used I think 2002 Buick Lesabre from this very same dealership, whenever they would drive the car, in the highest gear the car lurched. You could hear a thunking sound. Took it in under their used car warranty, time and time again we got the car back from the dealership and a few days later...thunk thunk thunk. Took it back three times, I got tired of hearing about it so I looked up the recalls for the car as well as service announcements, actually found it on an official Buick site, that the transmissions had a defective solenoid switch that would cause this problem. I printed this official service bulletin out and went back to the dealership, I presented the owner with this printout and told them to fix it properly under the warranty. Next thing I know he's admitting that GM told them to replace parts of the transmission as they go, instead of the whole transmission, sort of a stop gap measure to save money. Got the car back a couple days later, it's been several months now, and the problem has not returned, nor has the printout that they gave the dealership that they asked for back lol
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