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
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
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.
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.
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:
remove 'spamsucks' from mail addy for replies.
I fart in Darl McBride's general direction.
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.
Right....this is the sort of stuff we see all the time. "You just
put the harmonic balancer on, now the steering column is
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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