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Car repair gone bad

Took my car (2006 Aveo) into have timing belt and water pump replaced about a month ago - got a call that my “car was dead.” They had to replace all the valves and head gasket set - got the car - made a horrible noise - told it was ok to drive it - everything needed to settle - got a mile from the shop and oil light came on - took it back and they did something - on 8/14 turned a corner and the car died- made awful noise - first they said the idler tenion pulley went out then the idler pulley went out - what is the difference! said, “Technically not our fault but we will split the cost of the repairs.” My cost Have never gotten a straight answer as to what happened the first time. Only know it cost $2,500 to fix and I supposedly have “a new engine.” Can anyone tell me what happened to my car and am I looking forward to constant repairs? What is a idle pulley or tension idle pulley and how would it screw up a valve?

Did your timing belt break and that’s why you needed it replaced?

If the car was running fine up to the point you took it in there for a basic timing belt job then the possibility they screwed up is about 100%.

This means that someone did not time the engine correctly while doing the job, hit the key to start the car, and in a nano-second realized they screwed up when the racket started.
They went into CYA (cover your axx) mode by blaming it on a tensioner or idler. Tensioner and idler pulleys are what maintains the belt tension and keeps it from flopping around inside the belt cover and should be replaced as part of the job.

A cylinder head/bent valve repair does NOT constitute a “new engine”. You have a rebuilt cylinder head of what may be dubious quality based on what has transpired.
“Everything needs to settle” is about a ridiculous a comment as can be spouted. Maybe you should invite these guys onto this forum and let them spout this garbage.

Just my opinion, but you owe them for a properly done timing belt job; no more. Anything after that should be on them and they owe you in my opinion. I think you were screwed.

Generally I don’t disagree with my respected mentor OK4450, but in this case I may have to disagree.

Everything he described is exactly what I too suspect happened, but im my opinion they should also refund you the money for the timing belt work. The did not do a proper job. They screwed up big time. And, as he said, that statement is pure BS. A properly repaired car should not need anything to “settle”.

But, in truth, you’re unlikely to see your money back. I think you’d win “hands down” in small claims court, however, if you have everything documented.

In retrospect mountainbike, I agree with you. All money back just for the sheer aggravation and having to listen to what was apparently a blatant bunch of BS.

Sometimes one wonders if the entire story is being told but in some cases I feel there’s enough there to suspect the shop really screwed up. I feel that way about this particular story.

I’m also in agreement that this would be headed for court without a refund and the OP would likely win this one.

The care was fine when i took it in the first time. I actually took it in to have the timing belt changed before it broke and figured as long as they were in there it would be a good time to have the water pump replaced. I have it changed every 60,000 miles. I put alot of miles on it because I travel a distance to and from work - I keep the oil changed - per their advice had everything flushed - belts etc checked and changed - tranny fluid changed. I paid $415.00 the first time - that was the quoted price for the timing belt and water pump. They had my car for a week and had to get me a loaner. This time they have had it since Saturday and last word was it should be done this Friday and it will cost me $280.00 which is half of this repair cost because they said “technically it wasn’t any of their doing.” This time the tensioner idle pulley or idler pulley snapped - when this first came down the shop manager told me that something broke and “welded the belt to it” - It went from something tensioner to idle pulley this time. I just haven’t gotten a straight answer. This time they are fixing a valve - last time it was all of the valves. Thanks for the info - I am thinking about getting a lawyer - I want in writing exactly what happened and what they had to replace. This time the shop manager said, “Did we replace that pulley?” Not according to the paperwork I got the first time - that was their justification for not being responsible for this whatever it was.

Depending on what state you live in, before calling Dewey, Cheathem and Howe, you ought to first determine what administrative agencies, if any, intervene in automotive repair shop/dealer complaints. Clearly you have a right to complain (bitterly, IMHO) and whether it’s through your Dept. of Motor Vehicles or consumer affairs, District Attorney consumer complaint office or a Bureau of Automotive Repairs, you should really contact them first and then call the lawyers to kind of supervise or ride herd on the case in the background.

The remedy you should be looking for is to get this thing out of their hands and into a shop, perhaps even a dealer, that knows what they’re doing. At that point, I’d ask the intervenor for an engine rebuild since you don’t really know what they did, what damage was caused or how at this point and make sure they bill the guys who did this in the first instance. I think under the circumstances that’s pretty reasonable.
Good luck


So you are telling me that they should have replaced the tensioner and idler pulley the first time they screwed it up!

thank all of you for responding to this.

Yes, they screwed up by not replacing any tensioners or idlers at the same time as the belt, along with the water pump. They may feed a non-mechanically minded car owner this bunk about settling in but a real mechanic won’t buy a word of this.

Gates is one of the largest belt manufacturers in the world and not only do they provide belts to everyday parts houses, they also provide them to the car makers as original factory OEM parts. Here’s what Gates says about this issue.

If I were you I would push this issue. At the very minimum they should refund all money and eat every dime of this because you paid them for their expertise (alleged) in this area and they cut corners. Most of the time when corners are cut bad things happen.

I hope my ingnorance isn’t confusing things. We are talking about a relationship between the timing belt and the tensioner and idlers. Because the timing belt was the first issue - the first time I took it in to have it replaced as routine maintenance. All I know this time is they had to take the top of the engine off again!!! and something welded to the belt - I think of the serpentine belt as the one that runs on the outside of the engine. Thanks.

I would begin by asking the Service Manager: “I would like to speak directly to the persons or person who worked on my car. I have a right to know exactly what happened here.” Try to bring an auto-savy person with you, someone who can’t be BSed…An instructor from a local tech school would be great or an ASE certified mechanic from an independent shop…Offer them the choice of talking to you or talking to your lawyer…

What is the total mileage on this vehicle??

There are idler/tensioner pulley on the timing belt (inside of the belt covers and not visible) and the external serpentine belt has its own tensioners or idlers. Same principle, but completely independent of each other. One is visible (serpentine and tensioner/idler) and the other is buried out of sight. (timing belt and tensioner/idler)

Taking the top of the engine off points to a problem with the timing belt tensioner or idler. Any repairs to the serpentine belt are completely external and do not require removal of any top end engine components.
The noise you mention and the oil light is also a big concern and could affect things in the lower end of the engine, not just the top.

Based on their willingness to hand a noisy car over to you with the “need to settle” comment and whatnot I can’t say as I’d believe a single word from them.
Your car was running fine when you took it in; it should have left the same way.

130,000 miles. I work two jobs and travel in two different directions to get to them. And I travel the interstate at night and that is why I have regular maintenance done on it. I considered this as being the problem but I have not had any problems with the car until now. Like I said I have regular tune-ups, oil changes, tranny fluid changed at 60000 miles and the belts as recommended by the folks that botched it up. They told me to get everything flushed which I did - radiator, engine, gas line. The car has only been in the shop for preventative maintenance. I have given them alot of my business. I know folks screw up and that is why I have been low key on this - I have not gotten ugly with them as of yet. but!