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An honest mechanic?

I posted this in an 6yr old post but wanted to put it in General discussion(assuming it goes to the top of the forum) to get others thoughts on honest mechanics. It wasn’t intended to offend any good mechanics out there. But just to get others experiences. Here’s what I wrote

Being the cynical person I am when it comes to mechanics,(not sure why, but maybe it’s bc they have a reputation of ripping people off that know nothing about cars) I have a big question mark in my head about my 02 Cavalier that I just had the timing chain replaced. Fortunately for me no valve damage occurred when it broke(supposedly haha). It still cost me $900 to get it fixed though. At 132k I was rather surprised when the mechanic confirmed my suspicions. All indicators pointed to the timing chain. But does that necessarily mean it’s completely broke inside? Or could it have just came off track? Or something else inside had broken.
I’m asking bc after reading this post about “not changing the oil regularly” could have caused the chain to break. Well, I must say, I’m a person that ALWAYS changes my oil on time and with quality oil. I do have to admit though, I wasn’t the first owner of this car. I inherited it at 100K.
It’s unfortunate that ur average person don’t actually know too much about working on cars. And what’s even more unfortunate is how mechanics know this, and take advantage of people.
I truly don’t mean to offend any honest mechanics (if there is any) but I haven’t ever had any good experiences with them. Which is why I forced myself to learn everything I could about cars.
Using this timing chain as an example, how am I to truly know the chain was broken? Was I supposed to be there when he decided to start working on it and see if it was actually broken? Or did he tear it apart and take a tool, reach in there and break it? How was I to know? Ya see, these guys know there job well. They’ve played all kinds of scenarios over their years of running a shop. My guess would be is they play each customer by what they present when they walk in. Feel the customer out in other words. Then go from there.
Another quick example. I owned a 1987 lROC-Z Camaro back in the early 90s. I was having transmission problems and had it towed to a transmission shop. The guy wanted about $150 to take the pan off and inspect it. Well I had no choice but to let him do that and pay the money. What was I supposed to do? So he then comes in with the transmission pan and shows me that there are metal shavings all in the bottom of the pan. Then he ends up telling me it’s going to be about $1300 to repair it. I was like 21 years old then. I didn’t have that kind of money. He proceeded to ask me if I could borrow the money from my parents. My mom did not have that kind of money either. To make a long story short he ended up fixing it for about $800 with supposedly used parts. I was able to come up with that $800 but it was tough. The moral of the story is, I found out later that all transmission pans have metal shavings in them. He could have showed me a microwave oven at that point and I wouldn’t have known the difference. He manipulated me and every form or fashion. There are other stories but I’ll end my crying session there.
I’m curious to hear others experiences? And how do I find an honest mechanic?
For the record, I’ll be the first to admit, I may all wrong about my recent timing chain mechanic. It’s just frustrating dropping that kind of money.
Thanks for listening

99% of mechanics are hard working honest folks.Its the 1% rotten apple in the bunch that makes the industry look bad.


A. Timing chains DO break or jump.
B. The chain kit itself is relatively cheap, you are paying for the labor involved.
C. Your engine, as far as I can determine, is an interference engine, if your mechanic was dishonest he would have told you the engine was destroyed.

IMHO, you were well served.

Who cares? The actual part is a small fraction of the charge. The labor is what’s expensive, and you’re going to pay that whether he replaces it or just adjusts it. Might as well replace it so you don’t have to go back to him 6 months from now and pay it all over again.

For someone who truly doesn’t want to offend the mechanics on here, you’re doing a pretty good job of it. Heck, I’m not a mechanic, and I’m offended on their behalf.

Yes, there are dishonest mechanics out there. There are also dishonest people in whatever you do for a living. That doesn’t mean I’m automatically assuming you’re a thief, though by the logic of your post, I should.

Pick an independent mechanic who has good reviews and who has been in business for awhile and you’ll probably be fine.


So am I . And Kenny ( ur ) is not a word.

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[quote=“TheKennyP, post:1, topic:110314”]
But does that necessarily mean it’s completely broke inside? Or could it have just came off track?
Or something else inside had broken.[/quote]

It really doesn’t matter if it was actually broken or “came off track” as the repair is pretty much the same. Chains only come off if they are stretched or some other failure of a tensioner or gear has occurred. The result is the same, the affected parts need to be replaced…in all cases, it would be foolish to not replace the chain and tensioner when you’re already in there fixing things.

100k miles of unknown prior ownership is plenty of time to abuse an engine and result in a failed timing chain…it could actually be a fraction of that time.

You yourself said you thought it might be a chain related issue:

At 132k I was rather surprised when the mechanic confirmed my suspicions. All indicators pointed to the timing chain.

If you are so suspicious of any mechanic, why don;t you ask to see the issue next time before they do the repair work? As long as you don’t cause some huge delay and tie up a repair bay, they are likely to be willing to show you the problem.

Ok ok y’all are right! My sincere apologies for vomiting my frustration about mechanics. Part of me is frustrated I couldn’t do the work, part of me is frustrated with my experiences, and of course the money. I started talking about someone’s timing issues in a 2011 post and it just started pouring out.
I’ve had some terrible experiences and it’s probably just bad luck.

GPierce and Shadow, y’all are right. Well put about the cost

Volvo, seriously? Ur kidding right?

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His customer interface might not have been exactly what I’d prefer (the above question could have been considered a bit out of line by some), but overall all I don’t see anything nefarious in your post.

But I understand your anxiety. While the vast majority of mechanics are honest, there are enough unscrupulous, barely-competent, or very-badly-managed mechanics (read: chain-shop mechanics) peppered in among the honest ones to make us all wary. I get antsy when anyone I don’t know personally touches my car. I’ll guess that anyone that’s owned cars for at least ten years has probably run into at least one unscrupulous or incompetent mechanic. That includes me. Oh, the stories I could tell!!

The only solution is to find someone you trust and patronize him alone.

Replacing a timing chain is far more complicated then replacing a timing belt. The labor cost could easily double.

As for honest mechanics…I know several. But the bad/dishonest mechanics are far far greater then 1%. You have places like Midas, Sears, NTB, Townfair Tire - where the mechanics work on commission and thus motivated to always find something wrong. Midas and Sears have been successfully sued several times in many different states for this type of deception. Let’s not even talk about the national oil change stores.

I find independents to be far more honest, but I’ve seen my fair share of dishonest ones.

Dealers are again hit and miss. I’ve good dealings with some dealers, but some very bad experiences with others.

1% - NO…From my experience and others it’s well above 30%.

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I think if you cut out the chains, the number will probably drop lower than 30%. It still won’t be 1% because it’s pretty hard to find any population where only 1% of it is composed of dishonest people.

Now where it gets tricky is that there are dishonest mechanics, and then there are honest mechanics who are incompetent - and the end result to the consumer is the same - the car doesn’t get fixed or it takes more money than it should to fix it.

Patronizing independent local mechanics is the first step in avoiding both, because eventually people will stop going to crooks and morons when they realize their car isn’t getting fixed, and they’ll go out of business - so if they’ve been in business awhile, then chances that they’re honest and competent rise.

It seems to me that the people who know the least about how an automobile functions are the people that tend to think that a mechanic is ripping them off. There seems to be a tendency for people with college degrees to believe that people who work with their hands are overpaid. My brother has a Ph.D. and taught in s state supported university for s couple of years. When the president of the university in a faculty meeting told the faculty to quit complaining about their salary and that university faculty were “a dime a dozen” my brother took his resignation to the president, gave him a dime, and said “Go buy a dozen of me”. He then did technical writing on s contract basis for different companies. He thought he should know something about the law. What started as taking one law course turned into a full blown law degree and admission to the bar. He practiced law with a big law firm handling auto insurance cases. When he got tired of seeing insurance companies attempting to rip off accident victims or someone trying to stick it to an insurance company, he and a friend bought a plumbing company. I was visiting my brother when a call came in and asked my brother his rates. My brother told him what he charged for a service call which included the first hour, and what his charge was per hour beyond the initial hour. The potential customer was irate. He said, “I have an MBA degree and I am a manager over a division at my company”. It happened to be a company where my brother had done a lot of contract work. My brother replied, " I have a Ph.D. and taught at a university. I have a law degree and practiced law with a big law firm. I am now a plumber. You have three choices: 1) you can have me do the job at my rates; 2) you can hire someone who charges less; or 3) you can do the job yourself. You have 15 seconds to make up your mind because I have another call coming in". On the other hand, I heard my brother on the phone explaining to a customer what part to get and how to fix a Delta faucet. He spend 15 minutes helping the person and told the person to call him back if he needed my brother to make a service call. I told my brother that he just beat himself out of a service call. My brother replied, “No, I just made a good investment in my business”.
I used to have to do many of my own repairs when growing up and first starting out. I know the labor involved. I have advanced degrees and I realize the work a mechanic has to do to make a living.


I’m tired of listening to people blaming other people for the insecurity they have that comes from their own ignorance. Sure, if you don’t understand what needs to be done at all, and someone else does, there is a possibility the other person will rip you off. Doesn’t matter if it’s a mechanic, or a doctor, or a lawyer or an electrician, or a politician. And substituting another ignorant person for an expert is no solution at all. Next time you experience chest pain, and your Uncle Harry says “It’s just Tillie’s lousy cooking. Forget it”, you decide. Uncle Harry or the emergency room?

The opposite is also true. People who lack college degrees often look on those who have them as academic elite know-nothings who don’t live in the real world. My wife has a PhD in cancer biology, and the number of times I’ve heard people who don’t even have an undergrad degree tell her that they know more about how cancer works than she does is pretty amazing. They know how to use Google, they say, and therefore they’re just as qualified to speak on the subject as she is. Occasionally she’ll dig out her thesis and have them read it, and watch their eyes glaze over shortly after they get past her name.

It all boils down to our instinctual mistrust of what we don’t understand. If we can solve that problem we’ll solve an awful lot of related societal problems almost simultaneously.

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And what I’ve personally witnessed - is the people who know the least about how an automobile functions are the people dishonest mechanics target because they can get away with it a lot easier.

The difference is - I don’t need a mechanic to fix my car - I’m more then capable of doing 99% of repairs myself. However - no matter how much I want to - I can’t perform knee replacement surgery on myself or anyone else.

I disagree with that completely. I’ve been working in the Computer field as a software engineer and manager for over 30 years…and MOST people in this field haven’t a clue how to even change their oil. I rarely if ever hear someone complain about a service they had to pay to some tradesperson. They all pay it gladly. They know it’s a skill set they don’t have and don’t want to. They are also a group of people the dishonest mechanics target. I get treated completely differently if I take my car in for any type of service if I’m in a suit or in jeans.

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@MikeInNH. You are working and managing people who have a skill in the field of software engineering. These people you work with are logical as you are.
Many of the people I have observed with college business degrees often don’t have logical reasoning skills. Their computer skills consist of clicking on this icon which invokes some mysterious process in the computer. You and your software engineers understand logic and have an idea about how a machine such as an automobile functions. That is why you and your software engineers don’t complain about automobile technicians don’t complain about automobile repairs.
I spent 44 years at a university teaching mathematics, statistics, computer science and working as a research design consultant. I have had to deal with people with undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees and many of these people have no logical reasoning skills and don’t care to develop these skills.
I had a colleague that made the claim that chemists made good college and university administrators. I agreed with him. Chemists had to understand theory but also the practical application. Software engineers fit in the same category. They have to understand the theory but also have to apply it. There are too many college graduates who graduated with poor analytic skills that somehow managed to sneak into administrative and management positions. I had to serve under such administrators. These are the people that complain about what a mechanic has to charge to make a living.


Ur is not a word in the way you used it. It is a prefix, or an ancient Sumerian city. So… how does it fit in your sentence? Any how thanks for the mechanic rant. It is refreshing to see people dredge up the worst scenario for any given situation. I hope the sarcasm is self evident.


Lol. Somehow I knew someone in this group would mention Sumer. :smiley:


I dunno. I’m inclined to think that crooks are the most equal-opportunity practitioners of any group. Rich or poor, tall or short, knowledgeable or not, if you go to a crook he’ll probably try to screw you. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: