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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood



  • oh the garage should have lien-saled the car long ago. They'll just being lazy about clearing up this problem I think.

    You get a "lien kit" from DMV and follow instructions. It's pretty easy. I've helped a few garaged do lien sales. I did the paperwork, placed the public notice and after the auction--which nobody ever comes to---I filed the lien papers for the garage. They got a title, sold the car to pay for the repairs*

    * Note: there are rules regarding how much a garage may charge for "storage" and also a rule that if the sale exceeds the cost of the repair bill, that extra money goes back to the owner of the car. Also, the owner can contest the lien sale, but if they contest it and still refuse to pay, and don't file a lawsuit, then the lien sale goes on.

    Threat of a lien sale is a good way to get non-payers to cough it up or shut up.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    edited November 2012
    Back in the mid 70's a buddy of mine was at a local transmission shop having some work done when he spotted the nices little 1952 Chevy Hardtop sitting behind the building. He wandered over and took a closer look. It was dusty and looked like it hadn't been run for awhile.

    So my friend asked about it and learned that they had overhauled the transmission (Powerglide) but the owner refused to pay for the job or pick up the car. They had just completed the Mechanic's Lein paperwork and told him he could buy it for the price of the rebuild which was, at the time, around 200.00!

    He picked me up, stopped by the bank and we went back and picked up the Chevy which they had washed in the meantime! It was a So. Calif beauty, rust free with something like 60,000 miles on it. I drove it home for him and it ran like a dream!

    He drove it for abut a year and finally sold it to a guy who kept bugging him for I think 600.00.

    It got lowered to the ground, split manifold installed and lived the rest if it's life as a "cholo wagon"
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,577
    edited November 2012
    I used to have a 1979 Chrysler Newport, that I bought from the junkyard in late 1996. In April 1997, the transmission failed on it. Luckily, less than a mile from a local transmission shop that had a good rep, so I had it towed there.

    The guy that owned the place told me that, if I had happened to come by there about 5-6 months earlier, I could've had that car for free! I didn't understand what he was saying at first, so he explained. Turned out, the previous owner had brought that car to them, and when they said it needed a new transmission, he didn't want to put the money into it, so he just left the car with them. They swapped the wheels, which were the extra-wide 15x7 road wheels, and gave them to a friend to use on a horse trailer, and they threw some junky Ford wheels on that had the same bolt pattern, but the center part was smaller so they cut the opening out. And eventually, they sent it to the junkyard.

    And as luck would have it, I happened in that junkyard on the very day the car came in, so I saw it, complete and solid, before they started dismantling it and then parting it out. Paid $250 for it.

    It actually drove out of the junkyard, and made the trip home just fine, and the transmission never gave any indication of trouble. And the inspection never found anything, but then again, I don't think a transmission is part of a "safety" inspection. However, one evening after work I used it for my part time job delivering pizzas, and it acted up pretty quickly. I tried to get it home so I could get another car, and got within about 1/4 mile. So I just left it along the road, ran home, got another car, and figured I'd deal with it later.

    That night, after I got off, I put some transmission fluid in it, and it went into gear just fine. So I made sure to just keep transmisison fluid with me. But, the second time, that didn't work! :blush:

    The transmission shop only charged me $650 to put in a rebuilt transmission, which seems cheap to me...too cheap to total a car over. But then, maybe the previous owner was just getting tired of the car. And, it did need other work. I bet that transmission shop is happy that the previous owner didn't say go ahead and fix it, and THEN refuse to pay! Also wondered if they thought I was an idiot for pulling it out of the junkyard and then paying to get it fixed?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited November 2012
    API is starting a licensing program to help make sure that the public gets the correct oil put into their cars. - ack-market-more-focus?cid=95882

    Well that's great, but the reality is we don't make money changing oil and it is likely that it will always going to be a "loss leader". Now we get to pony up another $400 to be licensed to try and prove that we know how to correctly service someones car.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    "Those who are licensed will be put in an online directory for consumers, which can be used as an advertising tool."

    Such a deal. And if you don't pay the $400 a year, someone like that Marsha guy will claim you're incompetent when they sue the shop. :P

    Don't forget to top up the tank with some Top Tier gas.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited November 2012
    Doesn't mean squat for those of us that change our own oil.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    edited November 2012
    Until the manufacturer tries to deny your warranty claim for doing your own maintenance "wrong".
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,886
    Of course, trying and succeeding are 2 very different things.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    edited November 2012
    Lots of hassle in the meantime. Especially if you have to go get that Marsha guy to help you out. :D

    Even when you win, you lose.

    Sort of nice owning older cars that you couldn't even buy an extended warranty for. The trick now will be finding parts and mechanics who can work on them.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Such a deal. And if you don't pay the $400 a year, someone like that Marsha guy will claim you're incompetent when they sue the shop

    Who is Marsha?

    BTW we don't use bulk oil. We stock twelve different oils because the "one size fits all" approach has been incorrect for more than a decade.
  • Well marketing your competence You have to do it these days. In fact you probably DO do it, by the cleanliness of your shop, how pro your techs dressed and act, the image your front office presents, the tools on your wall, your signage, displays of your credentials, etc.

    you are marketing all the time.

    People who buy "Fairview Motor Oil" in a black can for .59 cents a quart are the same people who buy $5 used motorcycle helmets. :P
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    Bob/Marsha7 is a Georgia lawyer who popped in here a couple of weeks ago (post 394). He's fun to razz, but lawyers make easy targets. :shades:

    Do the dealers still have those drums of bulk oil hanging from the ceiling? No sure if many consumers ever caught on to that, but the manufacturers might, after they audit some engine failure warranty claims.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I would think if you provide receipts for the oil, filter, and anything else that's needed, the burden would shift to the manufacturer to show that you didn't do something right. Provided the warranty claim was for an oil related failure, of course.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,011
    I would think if you provide receipts for the oil, filter, and anything else that's needed, the burden would shift to the manufacturer to show that you didn't do something right. Provided the warranty claim was for an oil related failure, of course.

    That's usually the case, but I know of at least one case where Hyundai denied a warranty claim over a typo in the customer's records...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,914
    Not to mention that when you even get to that point, the hassle factory has been escalated by a factor of ten.
  • ...was talking to a local garage owner.. I'd never met him, but our sons are friends... He has a pretty big shop, and does just about everything but body work.. I asked him about the local competition (8 bay garage across the street, and a new guy up the street in an old gas station...2 bays)..

    He said the guy across the street was competent, but there was plenty of work to go around... said the 2-bay guy used to manage a tire store, and decided he could make a go of it... 2-bay guy's mechanic was calling them all of the time, asking for information, and he finally just had to tell the guy to stop... "I pay $500/month for All-Data, and I'll be damned if I'm giving that information away."

    He says he gets a lot of business, after the 2-bay guy gets done with them... .. including the guy's sister... :)

    Moderator - Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • I know shops that help each other---even independent shops that help the dealer (LOL!) but it's always a two-way street in those cases.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I know shops that help each other---even independent shops that help the dealer (LOL!) but it's always a two-way street in those cases

    That's something that I really tried to create in our area. It didn't work as it is clearly a one way street. One shop is so cut-throat they wouldn't admit someone can do anything that they cannot as an independent and sends all of that work back to the dealerships. The other has made some investments into tooling but hasn't done anything in training to speak of beyond the random tool or parts store sales/seminar. They will call to have me help them out when they get stuck. Aside from that it's all price wars and has been for decades.

    BTW the first shop mentioned didn't blink when they had a chance to buy a cloned Tech II off of EBAY. Overnight they got to catch up with the investment that I had been making for years that now totals some $20,000 for that one tool and manufacturer and they only spent $1500 to do it. Seems nobody cares how being able to purchase that stolen technology hurts someone like myself.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited November 2012
    The warranty dance, the big issue here is there is more to a vehicles life than just the warranty lifespan.

    BUT. You can't just go and buy any 5W30 off of the shelf and have it meet every manufacturers specifcations. One size fits all transmission fluids cannot possibly meet all of the different specs.

    As far as proving if the oil used in someones car actually met the vehicle specs or not that's easier than you might think. The Catalytic convertor collects specific compounds over time and they eventually kill it. These are the ZDPs and the ZDDPs that the cheaper oils use for boundary layer protection. All GM has to do is have an analysis done on the catalyst and they will know without a doubt if oils meeting their specs have been used or not. Both GM and Ford do this on every catalyst returned to them under warranty or not and they have quite a data base built from it. That means its only a matter of time before they start denying catalyst warranties because of the wrong motor oils being used.

    As far as the typical engine failures caused by the incorrect oil, they aren't found in the crank and bearings unless you have starvation becuse of sludging. They are found in the piston ringlands, and with cylinder scoring (resulting in excessive oil consumption), timing chain stretch and guide failures, and camshaft failures, especially the Euro's with the flat tappet cams. The failures are well documented and repeatable, proving the wrong products have been used to service a car's engine or transmission is so easy that it is only a goodwill gesture on the O.E's part to not void the warranties.

    This is all part of the reason GM requires the dexos approved specification on the front of the bottle. It takes the guess-work out of the equation for the vehicle owner. Oil company statements like "meets the engine protection requirements of dexos" are very misleading.
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