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Did my mechanic screw me over?

I have some questions because I really don’t know much about cars/my own car. I’ve been trying to learn as much as possible but that knowledge is a bit over my head.

I have a 2006 Chevy Aveo with 180000 miles on it. I know it’s not it great condition, it’s been hit in 2 accidents, and in the shop many times. I basically just use it to get to school and back and run errands. A few weeks ago while driving home, there was a terrible screeching noise whenever the clutch was pushed in and I called what I was told to be a reliable and fair mechanic near by.

He called me after taking a look at my car and said the clutch needed replaced and that it would cost a little over $600. I agreed. I got a call the next week from him saying that the brake pad and something else needed replaced and that it was going to bump the cost up to $1100. I was skeptical because it was getting into the territory of the worth of my crappy car. I felt pressured and agreed to it.

When I picked up the vehicle he said on my way out “oh, I noticed some dripping under the car while I was working on it. So keep an eye on that”. I just said ok and left. Two days after on my way home my car started smoking and smelling really strongly. I noticed the engine temperature gage was all the way to the top. After it cooled down, I looked at the coolant tank and it was completely empty. I refilled the tank and ran the car for maybe 5 minutes and the temperature began to rise again. I looked under the car and saw coolant substantially leaking.

I’m upset because I feel like this is something any mechanic would take a look at. For him to tell me about dripping after I have paid for other work to be done seems messed up to me. If I knew that all this was wrong with my car I probably would have opted for just getting a new car but now I’m out $1100 and very frustrated.

Does anyone with experience as a mechanic have any advice? Is it just unfortunate or should he have told me about the problem sooner?

You had a vehicle that was basically wore out before you had any work done to it . I really can’t fault the mechanic. He warned about a leak which may or may not have been the coolant. I would think you should have a different mechanic look at this new problem as you do not feel good about the last. It might be simple or expensive then you have a decision to make.

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I think this is just unfortunate, you have an old car that was unreliable when it was new. I am pretty sure Daewoo made this for Chevy. They were not known for quality. Now at 12 years old, no matter how good a car was when new, things will break. It is frustrating when you spend hard earned $ to fix something then shortly afterwards something else breaks. That is the nature of cars and especially old cars. Your mechanic fixed what you asked-the clutch- then noticed a safety issue, brakes and contacted you to fix that. If he continued to go down the list the car might still be in the shop getting fixed, or more realistically both of you would have agreed to pull the plug and stop throwing good money after bad. . He probably did not notice the leak until he finished the clutch and brake job. @VOLVO_V70 makes a good point of having another mechanic take a look at it, the fix might be inexpensive or it might be the end.


Thirteen years old and 180k miles means the car is a collection of well-worn used parts. I give the mechanic a pass on this as it sounds like a car in which the listing of problems could be almost never-ending.


Yes, I understand this now. However to drive away after spending lots of money and almost immediately have an undrivable car is kind of ridiculous. Maybe he could have just told me what you all are saying in the first place, that’s all.

The mechanic has no crystal ball.

He most likely knew that the $1100 you already spent was hard on your wallet, so he would be more inclined to have you just “Watch that leak” for the time being.

He has no idea if that leak will turn into a gusher tomorrow, or six months down the line.

I had a water pump turn from not a drip to a gusher while I watched. I’m just glad I was not under the car working under the pump at the time.


It is true that the Chevrolet Aveo was made by Daewoo in Korea, and was not considered a high-quality car, even when new. However, none of the problems which you are having/have had are anything but normal wear and tear, and maintenance.

I would also not fall into the trap of “well, the repairs are close to what the Blue Book says my car is worth, so I’ll buy something else instead”. Assuming that you did not overheat the engine enough to warp the head/ruin the head gasket, I would find and fix the coolant leak ASAP, and not drive it again until that is done. Even if the total repair costs come close to what you think the car is worth, remember that you would likely have to spend a LOT more to get “something else” that is reliable.

This thing has passed the reliable stage a long time ago. If the OP can get drivable for a reasonable price now they need to replace it before anything else goes wrong.

Well, he didn’t screw you over, but surely did not do what he should have. As a mechanic he knew what kind of fluid was leaking. A leaking cooling system can’t be mistaken for an oil or trans fluid leak. He should have told you what was leaking (if he didn’t)

On the other hand, maybe you should have asked for more details.

Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling about it. However, if I don’t know what questions to ask, I won’t be able to ask them. And because he didn’t tell me what was leaking in a nonchalant way, I didn’t get the idea that it could be major. I am not blaming him for the state of my car, but I think he could have been more informative. Everyone is not a car expert, and that’s why we trust those whose job it is to be as informative as possible. That’s literally all I’m saying.

Most shop’s offer a service called “general inspection” in which they’ll spend and hour or two and look for potential problems and list out what needs to be fixed now, and which can be deferred. Suggest to have that service performed on your Aveo before deciding about any further repairs. That said, I expect what happened is that a coolant line was forgotten about when they reinstalled the transmission after the clutch job. They probably had to remove some of the coolant lines b/c they were in the way. It’s also quite possible the coolant just decided to start leaking now, and unrelated to the clutch or brake job. If the brake pads needed replacing, that had to be done. So given what you say, I’d not be inclined to blame the mechanic for the current state of affairs. If you had asked for a general inspection first, and the mechanic failed to notice the brake pads needed changing, then yes that would be the mechanic’s fault. But an engine of that vintage can spring leaks at any time, so without further info I think I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the mechanic. With any luck all you’ll have to do is replace some part to fix the coolant leak and you’ll be back on the road with a new clutch and new brake pads and good to go.

The Aveo doesn’t get very good comments here for reliability as I recall. Here’s another site that reviews this car. You might take a look there for some perspective.

Blackbook tradein for average condition is $325. Hopefully this is not a leaking headgasket and can be cheaply repaired. Hopefully it will run for a few months. Good luck to the OP.