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Bad Luck, Bad Decisions or Some other third thing? - Advice Appreciated

05 Hyundai Elantra 115K miles, some random electrical problems in the past and a recently replaced CV Boot. We were about an hour into an eight hour trip when the AC stopped blowing cold air. (I know you are thinking suck it up, but we were in Alabama in July, there was a two year old in the backseat who does not yet comprehend mechanical disfunction, and part of our drive was through a tropical storm and husband pointed out that you can’t roll the windows down when it is raining sideways) So, we pull over in nearest town to remarkably convenient repair shop advertising AC repair right on the building. They are lovely to us and get us on our way in what seemed like less than an hour with added freon, leakstop, and maybe a recharge. BUT, when we were three blocks away (!!!), it stopped blowing cold again. So, back we go. They are still lovely and go through the AC system “wire by wire” and drive us to our chosen destination, with the agreement that we will pick up the car in the morning. We pick up the car. they tell us that they have “disabled the sensor” and we will need to go to the dealership to get that undone, but they are vague in the urgency that this will require. They give us instructions to put the AC “on 2” so that it won’t freeze up. As I said, vague on the urgency, so three weeks pass with the car driving fine and the AC also fine until (!!!) one day, smoke begins to emanate from the hood. We stop driving the car. We call our insurance company to arrange a tow and as we have a moment to reflect, we have it towed to the nearest dealership. This is on a Sunday. Monday morning the dealership calls to tell us that we need a new radiator and hoses and thermostat which we agree to. They want to do other work (replace catalytic converter, leaking power steering hose), but we decline as we are still recovering from previous AC repair. Later they call and tell us that they need to order a part so they will be keeping the car until morning. After that, someone from the dealership calls and asks if we would like to talk about buying a car. (It is possible I have mixed up the order of those two calls, not sure) So, we go into research mode crunching numbers and shopping, but realize we can only do business with this dealership as they have our immobile car, and they not having what we want, we decide to fix our old car. So, the car is fixed. We make special mention of the previous shop’s instructions re the AC and they check and say that everything looks fine and is working fine. My husband goes to pick up the car (!!!) and it stalls out on him before he gets on the interstate. He calls the dealership, they ask him to put some gas in it. He does, but it continues to turn on but then die out. They pick up the car and comp us a rental. They are thinking fuel pump, maybe? It is pretty obvious that we will be getting a new/different car at this point. Did I do anything wrong? I know that things can wear out at the same time, and that my car was older. Is there any chance that the dealership will be merciful regarding the trade-in value of our twice disabled car? Is there a way to take it to another dealer? I called one and they were not thrilled at the prospect and never called me back. I have financing arranged, I’m just starting to get paranoid. Thanks.

I hate to say this but they want to sell you a new car. It is not in their interest to do a particularly good job in getting your car to run. They “think” it needs a new fuel pump?? A dealer better know that car inside out. Also weird that all these things fail, all at once. A radiator and a fuel pump have very little to do with one another.
Frankly, I think they are jerking you around, forcing your hand – but I am very suspicious of the honesty of dealers. Especially lately they don’t seem to be interested in supporting their previous customers. They just want to sell new cars and get big money for doing ‘required maintenance’.
Others here may have a kinder less jaded explanation.

I’d get the car to an independent mechanic and have him look at it. That guy is motivated to get your car to run right.

Husband says the dealership was closing as they brought the car in, so no one looked at it. The “fuel pump” was speculation.

I’d be very careful in authorizing work. Have them look at it, since they had it last. Maybe they forgot to do something.
If it is going to cost you real money, I’d take it away from the dealer and have an independent shop look at it – unless you’re really thinking of buying another car from them and they give you a decent trade in value for this thing, that is.

Currently waiting to see if they will adjust a previously quoted trade in in favor of considerable repairs on car that remains undriveable. So far so good.

Given the level of uncertainty, I’d invest in a AAA membership that includes unlimited towing and have them bring it to a good independent shop (check the mechanic’s files here for recommendations?). Have the dealer print you a listing of all the recommended work and let the independent shop determine what must be done, should be, could be etc.

The dealer is trying to force you into making what should be several transactions into one - I’d try to separate them. As others said, dealer wants to sell you something else meaning:

They profit on the sale of the next vehicle.
They lowball you on the trade
They fix your old car at their cost with no profit, then sell it at a higher price.

To maximize YOUR dollars instead of the dealer’s, I’d get the independent shop to fix it (at a reasonable cost), sell it privately, take your time shopping for the next car.

The repair shop just called and said it was “the idle air control valve” that caused the engine to stall? They quoted $290 to fix it, but I asked them to hold off while we negotiate with the selling people. I had previously asked them not to work on it for the same reason, but the technician was “adamant.”

BTW, the AAA membership would let you get the car “home” where you may already have a good mechanic that won’t hold you and the car hostage.

I’d say $290 wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibility - as long as that does the trick. I’m no A/C expert, but I’d recommend doing some research into the idle air control valve.

I don’t think you did anything wrong or made any bad decisions. The car is now 7 years old and lots of parts will start to show their age. Getting repairs on a trip with unknown shops is always a bit more dicey, but it seems you were treated fairly.

These new issues seem unrelated to the AC problem. If you are ready for a new car, fine. However, get this car fixed and let some dust settle before you dig yourself into a financial hole. With the car back on the road you are a much better negotiating position with any dealer, including the one that made the repairs.

If the dealer gives you a super, duper, deal then trade the car “as is” but make sure that deal is something very special before you leap into it.

It could be the IAC (Idle Air Control valve), like the independent mechanic says.
A bad acting IAC is usually just fouled up. Very often they can be taken off and cleaned with some carburetor cleaner and be good as new afterwards.
Perhaps suggest that to him. It will save you having to get a new one.

When you saw smoke coming from under the hood, was the car still running? Was the smoke really smoke or steam? If it was steam, then you may have overheated the engine and if that is the case, the IAC is not going to fix your problem.

The dealer is either not competent or not honest, at this point, I can’t tell which. If you overheated the engine, there is a good chance that you have a blown head gasket. If that’s the case, trade it ASAP or get it to an independent mechanic who will diagnose it properly and not throw thousands of $$ of unneeded repairs before getting to it.

If the engine was running OK and not dying up to the time it started smoking, and if it didn’t overheat, then someone has adjusted the throttle stop and that is why the IAC is not working. But if it didn’t overheat, then why the radiator, hoses and thermostat?

The bottom line here is get the car away from the dealer and have it checked by a competent independent mechanic. Then decide what you want to do. You will have more choices this way.

None of this stuff is related. A bad sensor in the AC would shut the compressor down. A leaking radiator hose would cause steam and overheating. The stalling is another and separate matter. I would sure expect better service than that on a care that new with that low mileage. I would get it going again and maybe look at another brand.