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Dealing with a terrible mechanic

My car started bucking and losing speed after driving every 50 miles or so on the highway 2 weeks back, to the point where after a minute or two it’d be dead in the road, going back to normal once it got about a 30 minute rest. I brought it to a mechanic, who said it was because my catalytic converter was too old and replaced it for me. Along with diagnostics and labor it came to a grand total of $326.27. Unfortunately, this was not the solution, as the problem continued. I brought it to another mechanic whom my dad recommended as a knowledgeable and honest man. This one did a diagnostic, didn’t know what was wrong, and guessed that it might have something to do with the sensors on the car. Apparently, his guess was right, as after a clean the car runs perfectly. He was even kind enough to give the diagnostics for free, because he wasn’t sure if he was correct. So, the correct solution cost me less than $30. So my question is, what is reasonable to demand as a refund from the 1st mechanic? Everything? Under the circumstances, was his guess logical?

Also, unfortunately, I seem to have lost my reciept for this transaction, will this vastly decrease my chances of getting money back? I was thinking he’d have the transaction in his records, and if that doesn’t work, I can show him bank records of the transaction.

Finally, not sure if this matters, but my car is a 1996 Geo Prizm.

He replaced the catalytic converter with your approval. Even if it did not solve the initial problem, he still did the work. And, who’s to say the catalytic converter wasn’t bad to begin with. The car is 16 years old. Chances are slim you’d be able to get your money back. Chances are nil if you cannot find the receipt. Chalk it up to a $326.27 lesson and move on. At least you have a new cat for the money.

I agree with Busted Knuckles. You are assuming that the mechanic was terrible. Sometimes you have to fix several things to correct one malfunction. I think that this was the case here. By the way…you got a great deal from the first mechanic because $326.27 for labor, diagnostics and a new cat is beyond fair.

All I can do is agree with others. You have no grounds to ask for anything. You requested service. The service was delivered. Period.

But I’m also wondering what, exactly, this other mechanic did. You wrote: “after a clean the car runs perfectly.” After a clean of what?

For future reference you will always get better help by keeping the same issue in the same thread: http://community.cartalk.com/discussion/2284281/1995-geo-prism-stops-moving-every-50-miles#Item_11

What I would like to know is what this 30 dollar solution was. Maybe this 30 dollar problem contributed to a number of issues.

Continuing to operate a vehicle with a known, serious performance problem can open up a can of worms and since there is little detail provided about what was done I have no idea at all what’s been going on with your car.

I’m guessing it was a MAF sensor cleaning.

Move on. Your car was repaired for $350 while not pleasant is palatable.

Offhand, I’d say that considering the symptom the diagnosis of a faulty converter was a bad one.

I see two “terrible” mechanics here. One who didn’t properly diagnose and repair a vehicle, and another who does nothing but devalue and minimize a profession by doing free diagnostics and repairing anything on a car for $30.

There’s nothing to say to that that wouldn’t earn me a scolding. That being said…