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3 visits, 11 weeks, and $3000 later and my vehicle still isn’t fixed

I initially went in because my 2011 Chrysler town and country wouldn’t start. It’d show a little lightning bolt on the dash, not even attempt to crank, and had to be put in neutral to get it to start. We brought it to my normal mechanic since moving to SC and he said it was the fuel pump. Replaced the fuel pump. Still same issue. He says it’s the TIPM, replace the TIPM 4 different times (after he claims he was sent 3 bad TIPM’s + new one+ reprogramming on the new one), almost the alternator, and the computer was replaced and reprogrammed. It spent 11 weeks in the shop and each time my vehicle had not been fixed. I tried to give him the opportunity to make it right and fix things. I finally got my van back yesterday and within 12 hours it starts doing the exact same things I initially brought it in for. I’m at a complete loss as to what to do. The parts are covered under warranty’s through the mechanic and he says to bring it back in and “sounds like it’s your alternator (even though he said that before, replaced it, and it didn’t make a difference so he said it wasn’t that… but now he’s saying it could be?). What on earth do I do at this point? I’ve thrown all my savings into fixing this vehicle and I’m not sure if I’ve just hit a series of unfortunate events or if the mechanic I’ve been seeing is just sucking money away from me and playing guessing games with what’s wrong with my car. I literally do not have anymore money to pay for anymore parts or even go to someone else. Should I get a refund on what was already paid for? (Oh, and to add he asked for $1,000 before the vehicle was fixed last week and put on some sob story about how MY vehicle and it’s parts made him overdraft and he’s sank all kinds of money into it to get nothing back and it’s a money pit for him)

This is a mechanic who owns his own shop and I’m fairly certain he’s ASE certified but I could be wrong.

Get a second opinion from a mechanic recommended by your your friends and neighbors. Ask everyone you know who they take their car to and if they like the work done. Eventually you will have a couple of mechanics that are mentioned a lot. Try one of those. It sounds like your current mechanic is just throwing parts at it and not really diagnosing the problem.

That would be my guess.
Follow jt’s advice. Find a new shop.

That information should be enough to get a competent mechanic on the most likely path.

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How on earth would a bad alternator make the car not start unless it was in neutral? Or a fuel pump? That’s just stupid and shows this guy has no clue what he’s doing. The first thing that should have been looked at is the neutral safety switch. The others are right. Find a guy that’s actually learned how to be a mechanic.

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I think is a fairly common problem with Dodge vehicles. It apparently has something to do with the throttle, throttle body, and/or throttle by wire system. See the link below. Good luck.

https://dodgeforum.com/forum/dodge-caravan/341067-2010-caravan-what-does-this-light-mean.html

This mechanic is a moron. I came up with the throttle control for the warning light also. You should go somewhere else. If it were me, I’d try to get some or all of the money back. Hope you paid by credit card. He’s throwing parts at it, not doing any diagnostics and his guesses aren’t even close.

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I think that the check engine and ETC lights are on with the ignition on and the engine off, this doesn’t prove that there is an Electronic Throttle Control fault detected. Start with basic no crank diagnosis.

“It had to be put in neutral to get it to start”? Sure can’t be the fuel pump then. I agree the mechanic is either a moron or a crook so don’t ever go back.

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That’s the “funniest” thing about this whole scenario… he’s the one that told us to put it in neutral to start it if it didn’t normally but also said it’d reset error codes so it pretty much “had” to act up while he hadn’t and couldn’t about 8 weeks ago… and then it completely died and jumping it off wasn’t helping us. I firmly believe he didn’t know what he was doing at this point because when we called him back this morning to let him know our vehicle still wasn’t fixed, he said “could be alternator” forgetting that’s one of the things he previously said he tested during diagnostics. I have another mechanic checking into the neutral safety switch (I think…). I’m hoping to get some money back for all this but I doubt it consider he asked for $1000 before the job was completed because he told my husband and I that he would be overdrafted since the parts from my vehicle were “so expensive”.

Last night was the only time it’s acted up in the last 22 hours

This “mechanic” just proves that certifications are no guarantee of actual competency on the job

Just because you can pass a written test doesn’t mean you’re any good at your job

I suspect this guy has no logical and/or methodical approach to diagnosis. He’s clearly guessing, and he’s in way over his head. Just because he owns a shop doesn’t mean he’s actually fixing things the correct way . . . or at all, for that matter

Find somebody else, because this guy is clueless and costing you a lot of money

Consider this a very expensive learning experience :frowning_face:

I’m glad you gave this guy the opportunity to fix the vehicle and make things right . . . but he clearly failed miserably. He doesn’t deserve any more chances. Not on your dime, anyways

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What!? Putting it in neutral will not reset error codes!

If I sound mad, I am, on your behalf. I’ve been where you are, dropping stupid amounts of money on an idiot mechanic who just took money without having the first clue how to fix the car. It’s actually what inspired me to start learning how to work on my own cars.

For future reference, this is a big clue with any service company, from mechanics to building contractors, that you don’t want to do business with them. If they can’t float the raw materials, then there’s a reason for that, and it’s probably because they’ve got such a bad reputation that they’re going broke.

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Or honesty or integrity.
I’m an advocate of the ASE exam system… it at least shows some level of knowledge. Unfortunately there’s no tests for honesty or integrity. I see too many cases of people with enough knowledge to pass the exams but not the other two.
NOTE: I’ve seen some doctors who lack one or more of the three as well. It isn’t unique to the automotive repair industry.

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I’ve been in the same boat here also and that’s why I started doing my own repairs. Yeah you get it with any service industry. I had a dentist screw up one of my teeth once. You have almost no recourse when it comes to doctors, unless it’s a huge amount of damages.

This seems like a standard fails to crank problem. I’ll grant I no experience with diagnosing Chryslers and maybe there’s some unique cranking peccadillo they have. If so, my advice is to find another mechanic who specializes in Chryslers or at least American cars. Maybe a dealership would be the best bet for this problem.

If you want to put on your scientist hat, the way the cranking system works, there’s a big electrical loop that current flows in, and all parts of that loop have to be in order for it to work. It’s sort of like those frustrating Christmas lights were if one bulb goes out, they all go out. If any part of that loop isn’t up to spec, it won’t crank, and there’s no easy way to tell which is the part that’s not working. The mechanic just has test test each segment in the loop, one by one. There’s actually two loops. The first loop is the one you are having a problem with I expect. It starts at the battery , to the + battery connector, to a fuse, to the ignition switch , to the neutral safety switch (in automatic trans, or to the clutch safety switch if manual), to a small under-dash relay (usually), to the starter motor S terminal, to the starter motor solenoid contacts, to the starter motor case, to the engine ground, to the chassis ground, and back to the battery - connector, then to the battery negative post. Any failure at one single point, or several points that are out of spec will cause this. It’s often exasperated by lower ambient temperatures, which is why we tend to see more fails to crank problems this time of the year. Last time I had this problem, which happened just a couple of weeks ago, turned out to be the starter motor solenoid contacts.

The second loop, if you are interested, starts again at the battery, but from there goes directly to the starter motor B terminal, to the starter brushes, to the starter armature, to the starter case, engine ground, chassis ground, and battery as above.

The other common reason we see her on newer cars for fails to crank is the car’s security system.

Cars are complex these days, just yesterday I had a car towed in, it had left a customer stranded because of a faulty radio. So there’s a lot that can go wrong that will make a car not start.

Having said that, I’m not sure what the original complaint with your car was. Was it a “no turn over” or “turns over, no start”. I have to assume that it was a “no turn over” if shifting to neutral made it start, but then again no remotely competent mechanic would replace a fuel pump for a car that doesn’t turn over.

Can you tell us exactly what the car does when you try to start it? When you turn the key, does the engine make a cranking noise like it’s trying to start or does it not do anything?

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I agree with asemaster about the need to have a no-start condition defined.

If you mean the starter will NOT crank the engine in PARK but will in NEUTRAL that generally means the neutral safety switch (a.k.a. range selector switch, etc) is faulty.

I lost faith in your mechanic when I hit the part in your first post about allegedly getting 3 of the same parts in a row with all of them being faulty.

ASE certified may or may not mean anything. It does mean that someone passed a test. Whether they’re competent and/or honest is another question. Apparently your guy is not.

I’ve been going based on this quote, which I take to mean OP turns the key and nothing happens.

I think it’s a matter of competency

Who cares how honest the guy is if he can’t diagnose a flat tire or a burnt-out light bulb . . . ?

It sounds as if he might mean well, but that doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t even know which end is up . . . ?

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Both competence and integrity are important. I know a guy that used to work a a nearby shop so that he could use the equipment, like the lift for his own cars after hours. He said that the two guys that owned the shop would tell people they needed stuff just to make extra money, and in some cases wouldn’t even change the item.