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Reputable Mechanics -- Separating Fact from Fiction

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,540
    Call your local AAA and find out where their diagnostic center is. They'll check it out for you.

    MODERATOR

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    Hi carconfused,
    Posting your message in multiple places makes it harder to give you advice. Please also check over in the Honda Civic Problems discussion, where members have responded to your original post.

    kirstie_h
    Roving Host & Future Vehicles Host

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    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
    Share your vehicle reviews

  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    I didn't know where to place this post, but since it is about consumers and protecting your rights as a consumer, I thought that this topic was the most appropriate for this post.

    Since I have seen and recently heard of folks (actually, my sister-in-law) having difficulties with dealers and warranties, I thought I would post some information that will help folks to understand what their rights are as far as warranties.
    The links will provide the information for you to determine if a dealer can void your warranty or not.
    The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects the consumer from unlawful voiding of warranties.

    If you feel your warranty is denied unlawfully, there is help. SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) has some good information, along with some contacts to help you to have a warranty problem resolved.

    The Center for Auto Safety also has an overview of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is more in plain english. It outlines the who what and why of the actual document.

    And finally, The Filter Manufacturers Council outlines the important part of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act, which states.......
    A manufacturer may not require the use of any brand of filter (or any other article) unless the manufacturer provides the item free of charge under the terms of the warranty.

    So if the consumer is told that only the original equipment filter will not void the warranty, he should request that the OE filter be supplied free of charge. If he is charged for the filter, the manufacturer will be violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or other applicable law.


    So, quite simply, as far as filters, oil and basic maintanence items, a dealer or manufacturer may not void a warranty because you are not using OEM parts or more importantly, their services for things like oil changes or maintenance intervals.
    Remember, we're talking about maintenance parts, not performance parts. : )
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    I never knew that Interstate 90 terminates at Norfolk Island...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,628
    Then you get on a ferry and you're there!
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    ...that makes sense!
  • I was looking for information on the 1988 Ford Country Squire wagon. I inherited it from my mother and love the car but am having some problems with it. I took it to a repair shop here in San Antonio and they gave me a laundry list of repairs they said it needed. The list included things like repairing the horn (which works just fine) and replacing the muffler (which was replaced 6 months before that date). They were obviously trying to take advantage of the fact that I didn't know much about cars (which I don't, but I can tell if the horn works). Anyway they gave me an enormous estimate and proved by lying about the horn and the muffler episode that they were not trustworthy. I was hoping to find other people to talk to about the problems so I would at least have some idea what to watch for when I finally found someone honest to repair the car for me. I have looked through your entire site but haven't been able to find any information about the car. I realize that it is older but it is a wonderful car to drive and gets fairly decent gas mileage for something as big as it is. The main problem I have right now is that it will sometimes, not always, stall when it has been driven very far (more than ten miles or so). The last time it didn't stall completely but had very decreased power and the steering felt shaky. I managed to make it home but just barely. The next morning the car started right up. The fuel pump is in the gas tank? according to my dad, and was replaced within the last year but it is very loud while the car is on. That shop said I might have a "vapor lock" but when I mentioned that to someone else I was asking about it, he started laughing and called me gullible and told me the car was fuel injected and didn't have a carburetor so it couldn't get a vapor lock. See what I mean about confusing? If you can give me the name of a trustworthy mechanic here in San Antonio who could help me figure out what is wrong and get it fixed at a reasonable cost I would be very grateful. Right now I don't know what to do, even whether to keep the car. All I know is that I can't depend on it and I really need to be able to trust the car. Any referral I can get would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for your time,
    Celeste
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,628
    Ask your friends and neighbors for a referral.

    And, avoid the chains!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,540
    I'd suggest you join your local AAA and then take the car to their diagnostic clinic. AAA will also give you a list of certified shops that they feel are competent.

    You really need to have an honest mechanical appraisal done on this car because it isn't worth very much and you might end up in a much better situation by investing your money in something more modern and reliable.

    Also keep in mind that ANY used car can be gone over with a fine tooth comb and problems found. The question is whether these are just small deficiences you can live with or if they are important. I could take just about any used car off the street and find something wrong with it.

    MODERATOR

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,076
    I would go heavy on the referral, especially from someone who says the mechanic will tell you what can be done and what needs to be done.

    In our area some shops which have listed with the AAA are only as reputable as the person currently running the store. And those managers seem to change monthly. The chains tend to have pressure to sell more $$$ of service work. An independent mechanic won't last too long if he oversells.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    right now I can tell you that I suspect a fuel filter clog more than a pump issue. the performance issue you describe is classic for a nasty fuel filter. locations vary per car, but likely it's along the chassis under the drivers' seat, or just up into the engine compartment. that should be about a $60-90 service at a reputable garage.
  • Thank you all for the advice. I have asked about a mechanic from some of the neighbors (and even the people in the waiting room at the dentist's office) but so far I have mostly had referrals to the dealership. Most of the neighbors have newer model cars or trucks. I will check with AAA and I will definitely take it and have the fuel filter checked and/or replaced. Thanks again for the advice.
    CelesteJac
  • Just got a 2000 discovery with 74K, would like to take it to a shop/mechanic (other than the dealerships) that specializes in or atleast deals with a lot of rovers.

    I'm in Philadelphia but could drive an hours distance any direction.
    Any suggestions/referrals?

    Please advise, just got car and the TC/Hill descent/ABS lights are on!

    Thanks
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,628
    No LR dealer or good independant in Philly?

    If you own a Land Rover, you will need to make good friends with a good shop because you will be there a lot!

    I would ask other LR owners for a referral.
  • Things are not always as they appear to be, and there is always two sides to a situation. Sometimes it is said, that one should walk in the others shoes, and unfortunately many do not care to do that;therefore we have all kinds of issues and misunderstandings. Automobiles are complex pieces of machinery, many parts to make a whole car. The understanding of how an individual unit works or interacts with another unit and so on can make auto repair not such a frightful concept. I may be wrong but media hype plays a big part of confusing the consumer and it probably stems from the fact that dealerships do not want to loose revenue which is a large integral part of their business. Thus many insults against the indepent repair facility. It can be said that the dealership would have an advantage in repairing the make and model it sells because of direct factory sponsorship and better equipment, but this is not a guarantee that the customer's car will in fact be repaired correctly or with minimal expense to him or her. Also one to remember the franchise has a high overhead and someone has to pay for the fancy surroundings, usually the customer. The other problems that exist is that the consumer fails to educate themselves about their own vehicle,whether or not they themselves want to actually work on it, and a most do not wish to for one reason or another. Any way let me try to get to the point and not ramble on.
    Very few question a doctors fee, or a lawyers fee but have no problem in questioning the mechanic about his or her fee. It takes considerable amount of time to become a good technition it doe not happen overnight a lt of scraped knuckles, banged head, burns, and so on, not to mention the constant and revamped technology to vehicles. It is wrong to expect someone to work on your car cheaply so you can save money, or deny someone to earn a living in other that you can live better. It is also wrong for a mechanic to take advantage of the consumer because of their lack of should educate understanding in the works of an automobile. Many people on this site had very good recommendations,obtaining 2 or more estimates, how a shop backs up their work,their reputation, low price should not be the only or prime consideration when choosing a repair facility, just as you would not choose a doctor or another professional on that merit only. Getting an auto repaired can be frustrating, but if the consumer educates his or herself more they will less likely to be taken advantage of. It is very easy to be accusotory,but the accusation has to be justified. Thank you. PO
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    It takes considerable amount of time to become a good technition it doe not happen overnight a lt of scraped knuckles, banged head, burns, and so on, not to mention the constant and revamped technology to vehicles. It is wrong to expect someone to work on your car cheaply so you can save money, or deny someone to earn a living in other that you can live better.

    If you are directing that statement to me, then I can assure you that I know all too well the amount of time it takes to become a "good" mechanic (I don't favor the term technician, as I am old school).
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,628
    Me too.

    Yesterday's "mechanics" knew how to fix things. Today's technicians only know how to diagnose and replace parts.

    Not all their fault since labor rates have soared and rebild parts are often unavailable.
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    I've been reading postings by Opatience for several years, and I am convinced he is one forum member worthy of full respect. He knows this stuff! (No, I'm not his customer! Nor his brother!) :P
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,628
    I totally agree with you.

    I know a "mechanic" from a "parts changer" and he knows what he is doing. I would take my cars to him without question.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    Wow, thanks guys!
    I appreciate that.
    Let's not forget guys like Alcan and kiawah.
    Most likely others I am forgetting, but those are the 2 who I notice.
    :shades:
  • Heres a question about honesty and integrity. Should a repair facility (dealer or otherwise) be upfront and honest about not knowing what is wrong with a customers vehicle? Or does playing "lets change the parts game until we get it right" seem justifiable? Should a customer get their money back when the part installed not fix the problem ????
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    That's a loaded question.
    Here is the problem. Most shops are upfront and honest about the repairs and try to make the repairs the firs time to the best of their ability.
    The problem is that some information isn't always made available to a lot of shops, so they may purchase an aftermarket part from a parts store and find out that the manufacturer updated the part to a new part later on. After they have tried several times to cure a problem.

    Not many shops "play games" as you put it. Because, to be quite frank, they probably wouldn't stay in business too long.

    Your last question.
    Should a customer get their money back when the part installed not fix the problem
    Depends. If you authorized them to replace the part. Then no. You should not get your money back.
    But it would be good business for them to not charge the labor on it.

    I've seen several instances that a person came in with SEVERAL problems that you had to fix one to find another and on and on.
    So that is something to consider.
  • Heres my case. Took my 98 mer villager in to a canadian tire garage to find out why my van was spitin-sputtering when warm. technician said there was nothing really wrong with the van other than regular maitenace.. I paid for diagnosis-injector flush, and I changed plugs/wires/throttle body cleanse/cap and rotor. Took it back and told them it still was acting up. They said it was the coil, they changed it and still no improvement, then they said oh you need to change the cat convertor so i took it out to have it done, pratically had to push it back to the garage...then they said leave it with us..a day later they said oh it was just a faulty wire. Ran ok for about 2 weeks..same crap again.....took it to a Ford dealer this time and they said it sounds like a sensor problem , they changed a o2 sensor still no change.. they finally did a ford diagnosis... oh it was a knock sensor.. paid big bucks again with no improvement....theyhad to call ford hotline for advice... they said to check for bad ground on ecm... i took it out and it was ok for 2 days and then it started up again. i took it back again to the ford dealer...they told me it was high resistance on the neg battrey cabel..so i took it out and changed that well the next day my van died on the hiway had to tow it to the Nissan dealer... After paying for a diagnostic 1 hr they said it was just dirt build up on the photo sensor on the distributor, cleaned it and it been fine ever since.... this crap cost me about 4 thousand before it was fixed, i feel i should of gotten some of that money back....
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    I paid for diagnosis-injector flush, and I changed plugs/wires/throttle body cleanse/cap and rotor. yes
    Took it back and told them it still was acting up. They said it was the coil, they changed it and still no improvement yes
    then they said oh you need to change the cat convertor so i took it out to have it done NO, cause the cat is easy to check to see if it is plugged ,
    pratically had to push it back to the garage...then they said leave it with us..a day later they said oh it was just a faulty wire. yes

    As for the Ford dealer, I would ask them why they were replacing sensors without confirming the sensors were bad.
    And when you say......
    so i took it out and changed that well the next day
    Are you having them do the diagnostics and you change the parts or what?
    If so, then you created part of the problem.
    If not, you paid for a diagnosis. Misdiagnosing the part and replacing it shouldn't really be at your expense.
    I don't know what Canada's laws are, but there may be a provincial govt consumer protection that can tell you what you should and shouldn't have to pay for.
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    Well, the thing is that "yesterday's mechanic" is exactly that... "yesterday's" mechanic and he would do well servicing "yesterday's cars". In yesteryears parts on vehicles were made to be repaired. But today, parts are made to be replaced. There are plenty of "yesterday's mechanics" trying to use yesterday's practices on today's cars. I know, because I often see them in my bay after "yesterday's mechanic" has tried to "fix" something that needed to be replaced.

    What is lacking, is not yesterday's mechanics... because there are still plenty of those scratching their heads trying to figure out today's cars. But rather there is a lack of "today's technicians" who understand today's vehicles and can accurately diagnose them.

    I suspect your experiences that prompted that post is from taking your "today's car" to "yesterday's mechanic".
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    Wow. Sorry to hear about that rough time you had. So, the tire store... who's primary business is under-car work such as tires, brakes, alignment, rims, and maint services like oil changes... couldn't figure out why your engine's control system, a complex electronic control system that requires special equipment and technical knowledge to diagnose, had a malfunction and couldn't properly run the engine. Honestly, I'm not sure how to express my degree of lack of being surprised. But I think it rivals that of my level of surprise for when Elton John came out of the closet.

    Looking at it from the tire-jocky's stand point, if the problem was somewhat intermittent... which is how your post reads... if he couldn't get it to act up in the relatively short period of time he had it (relative to how long you get to drive it) then what else is he going to do but look it over for past due maint? From the sound of it, plugs, wires, cap, rotor, and TB cleaning, that's pretty much to be expected of nearly any vehicle with some miles and age on it if they haven't been done in a long time. The only thing there is what was promised.... communication... if they said "this will fix your car"... then I have a problem with that against them. If they said something more like, "we'll we can't get it to act up, and don't really see anything wrong other than some maint issues that might or might not be the cause...." then they really just did the only thing that was in their power.

    When you took it back, they panicked and started guessing. You spent a lot of money there and they needed to do something to fix it. So they started reaching for straws. I feel like instead of reaching for straws at this point, they should have just said, "Look I'm sorry, but we can't really do anything more." That would have been the most upfront approach and at this point they wouldn't have done anything wrong. But the problem here is that they were probably more scared than anything that you'd start demanding for a refund of the... probably legitimate... maint work that they had just performed simply because it didn't fix your original complaint. So, at the very least, do you see what kind of a position they are suddenly in?

    Then the Ford dealer... MMmm boy. Of course you know you are actually driving a Nissan right? Well... part Nissan and part Ford. But the engine and electronics are Nissan. And of course it is the Nissan part you wanted a Ford dealer to fix. Granted, they are supposed to be ready to fix it because it is marketed as a Ford. But you are expecting a lot right there.

    I was working in a Ford dealer up to '93 and was hired over to a Nissan dealer.. why? To help them on the Nissan Quest, or so the service manager's idea was. The Nissan Quest and Mercury Villager came out in '93 and both sides of the fence were nervous about it. He knew it was half Ford and needed a Ford tech. I fit the bill. In '94 another Ford dealer (a Lincoln/Mercury dealer) hired me away from the Nissan dealer. Why? same reason only in reverse. Kinda funny isn't it?

    Anyway, the point is that every so many years car makers come out with a mix-breed vehicle that no one is prepared for, no one wants to touch, and no one has the equipment or experience to fix them... ever. When they are new, everyone is caught off guard and when they are old everyone has moved on and forgotten about them. Which bring me to the point I am getting to about the Ford dealer. They moved on, I'm betting when you're vehicle rolled in every tech there was praying he didn't get it and when one did the others pointed and laughed at him... seriously, I really mean they literally likely laughed "Oh.. I see you got the Villager... better you than me buddy... lol"

    I'm the only one in my dealer that is not afraid of them and actually kinda like to get one every now and then, and no one stands in my way for one either.

    You're bad experience at the dealer was likely due to the fact that... on that vehicle... the dealer was on the same, or close to the same, playing level as the tire jockys you just came from... only the tire jockys took all the maint away already. So, they reached for the only things they saw wrong, bad battery cables... ect.

    The Nissan dealer fixed it because, well, it has the same Nissan stuff on it that has been in place on other Nissans (most closely the Maxima) for years upon years upon years. For that problem on that vehicle, the Nissan dealer was actually the best choice. It was just another Nissan to them.. no fear, no surprise.
  • lhylhy Posts: 48
    I am looking for websites that provide reviews and ratings of car mechanics.

    I searched the Edmunds site for reviews of mechanics in my area (Oregon), but I didn't find any ratings.

    Can anybody recommend some other review websites?
  • jasonscarjasonscar Posts: 1
    I just bought a house in Romeoville where things are tight already and of course we have two cars. The 2007 Kia Sportage needs brakes and The 2005 Nissan Quest has windsheild wipers that aren't working. I can hear the motor working but they aren't moving. I think they got disconnected some how. I live in Aurora, IL right now and am moving to Romeoville, IL with in the week. Anyone know of a trustworthy mechanic in the area?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Both would be very common repairs that many places can handle.
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