Charged for unnecessary repairs?

My van died while driving. I took it to a repair shop and they told me the ignition module and distributor cap might be the problem. Two days and $300 dollars later my van dies again. I return it to the shop and this time they tell me it’s the fuel pump. After another $300 dollars I’m irate and confused. Why was I made to pay for their faulty diagnosis and repair?

I agree and sympathize with you. If the shop owner is honest and cares about your future business, he will appoligize to you and be willing to work with you and eat some of the first repair costs. Since I’m betting he is not, unless you have something in writing that states the ignition module and distributor cap will in fact fix your problem, you might be stuck. You did say they told you those two parts “might” be the problem. The important thing is to talk to the shop owner, not the service writer, mechanic or anyone else. I believe the ignition module could leave you dead in the water. But not the dist. cap. The fuel pump could also leave you shut down. If you cannot get any satisfaction, and they are willing to change the fuel pump for $300, and assure it will fix the problem, take care of getting your car fixed then you can contact your local or state BBB and file a complaint. $300 is not a bad price for parts and labor for changing an electric fuel pump. There are avenues for getting your money back, including small claims court, which isn’t my preferred choice, but is an option.

I’ll make a presumption here and you tell me if this is what happened; or as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story.

Your van died and you “took it to a repair shop”. This says to me that you drove it in with no apparent problems. Since it is quite possible to have an intermittent fault in the ignition module or the fuel pump no amount of diagnosis may detect this.
The shop has a running vehicle on their hands and they gave you a diagnosis of a possible bad module of which you approved the repair.
The problem is obviously the fuel pump now, but at the time it’s anyone’s guess.
Things are not always in black and white when it comes to car glitches and there are some gray areas also.

Is that what happened; roughly? If the van was towed in then my opinion could change a bit.

On further consideration, I am not sure that there was an outright attempt to cheat you. But, if you do feel that you were, then I have a suggestion:

Forget the BBB, which has no regulatory or punitive powers since it is a private entity, essentially functioning as an “old boys’ club” for business owners. Several months ago, Smart Money magazine published an article exposing the BBB’s failure to help most of the consumers who sought their help.

If you want the best chance for recovering your wasted money, contact the Consumer Affairs office, which is a governmental entity, and thus does have some clout. Depending on where you live, the Consumer Affairs office could be a part of the county government, or it could be a state agency.

Yes. The first time it died I used AAA to tow the van to the shop. I explained to them that the van’s engine shut off while I was driving it. The second time it died, they towed it.

It is quite likely that when the mechanics got around to your van it started right up and ran normally. In such cases all they can do is tell you to come get it, no charge, or take their best guess.

You would not be a happy camper if you drove the van home, unrepaired, only to have it die en route.

The shop gave it a good try. It is by no means easy to diagnose a vehicle that seems to be running perfectly. They could have replaced a half-dozen other components just to be “on the safe side.”

In short, you were not deliberately cheated. The shop could have, should have, explained the situation to you. Maybe they did. And maybe both components were borderline, who knows?

But now you have a running van with a new fuel pump and ignition module that should last you the rest of the vehicle’s life. Accept the result.

They also replaced the distributor cap and rotor. Are these necessary to replace if my van had no trouble starting every morning?

In the interest of fairness to the mechanic who may have made an honest mistake in diagnosing the problem, please answer the following question:

When was the last time that the rotor and distributor cap were replaced?

If the answer is, “I don’t know”, or “many years ago”, then I would not criticize the mechanic for replacing those parts.

not to be a PITA, but, you dont mention vehicle, year, mileage, engine.

all this info is pertinent.

just to remind you. plugs, wires, rotor, cap, are ALL normal consumables on a mileage base maintenance program. when was this stuff done last?

i’m betting not for a while, so erase that out of the equation.

was the check engine light on? is it now?

more info. what has been repaired, maintained on the van recently?

it ALL makes a difference.

It is a '95 GMC Safari. Except for fluid levels, it’s true I’m unsure of previous maintenance. I understand parts wear down with use. My main gripe about the repair is I feel, if the vehicle starts fine, why replace these parts? Remember the original problem was the vehicle died while driving. This is the information I relayed to the mechanics.

then they should have gave you the car back,until the problem happens again,

Then you can be MAD for having 700.00 in tow bills.

they took a shot,and lost,they should have driven the car until Said prob was reproduced.(then you would still be MAD) that they kept your car so long.

LET ME GUESS ,IT WAS A TRUSTED LOCAL SHOP.(with 10.00 an hr guys THROWING parts at it.

take it to the dealer,MORE training,LESS beer.


Funny thing… I was returning from the grocery when my van died. While moving my groceries from my van to the vehicle of my volunteer ‘chauffeur’, I offered one of the mechanics a cold beer to enjoy while he investigated the problem. He declined.

FUNNY in what way?

your van STILL DIES!

maybe he was already ,UP TO SNUFF.

just a thought.tell him to try a fuel press gauge,a REAL scan tool,with CAPTURE feature,also COMMON SENSE ,goes a long WAY.

good thing AAA only pays the tow truck 15.00 per pull. (and they get mad when the car gets towed somewhere else)other than their shop. GREAT scam!

You want it fixed find a REAL tech,WITH CLEAN HANDS,not crusty NAILS,if they cant keep themselves clean ,DO you really think they care about your car.


The one thing that is still unclear to me is this. The van died and was towed in originally.
If the towed fan happened to start and run fine at the shop after it was towed then I would say it could be anybody’s guess as to whether it was an ignition module, fuel pump, or any one of dozen other problems.

If the van did NOT start for the mechanics at the shop after it was towed then there should not be much of a question on this issue. Bad module means no ignition spark and bad fuel pump means no fuel pressure. There should be no confusion as to what direction to go.

As to the rotor and cap it’s unlikely that these had anything to do with a no-start or dying condition. However, if the ignition module was faulty (even intermittent) it’s possible the rotor/cap could have been damaged (burnt, carbon tracks, etc.) and should have been replaced.

YOU assume too much.

where did the guy say he took it to a ‘backwater’ shop?

and he never says it still dies. it took two trips to the shop.

gee, i never had to go back to a stealership twice for some repair. anyone else???

you assume the guys giving advice on this forum AREN’T dealership mechanics.

your naivete and immaturity is showing!

I made a bit of a “rant” some days ago about using the “common problem” method to repair automobiles,now it’s time for some crow. Any imtermittent no start/dies while driving 95 Safari get’s a fuel pump.

Is that you METO2? (newgen2)