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Do I owe Midas? and what should I owe?

On my way home from work on a Thursday night my car started to get real jerky when I pulled to a stop, it felt like it was going to brake down any second; but it was not making any unusual noises and the check engine light didn’t come on. The next morning I brought my car to a Midas, woops, I know a mistake right there but I did. They told me that my spark plugs were worn out and that I didn’t have any compression so they put new plugs and wires in. Well that didn’t change anything so a couple days later they informed me that I had a broken valve spring and that nine out ten times fixing the spring gets the car moving. They informed me that putting a new valve spring in is around $200 where as opening up the motor and actually checking to see what the problem is would be a lot more. So I followed their advice and took the chance at a quick fix, and of course it didn’t work. So I now owe Midas $490; new plugs and wires, valve spring, the labor, and of course a diagnosis fee. But what I need is a new valve and that is a lot of work and a lot of money so I took it upon myself to find a new engine; I found a 90 thousand mile engine for $600 from a friend. So I’m taking my car out of Midas and bringing it to another mechanic that I trust; but what do I do about Midas? Do I really have to pay them if they didn’t do anything for me? I work at a winery and he told me I could give him $190 worth of wine. Can I get a spare key to the car and just leave? I’m not sure how to get out of this situation. Any ideas?

You owe Midas for the work done to date (approx $490). On the other hand, if $190 worth of wine gets the bill marked paid, I would go that route.

I am not sure how you got to a new engine so quickly. No compression on how many cylinders? Time for a real mechanic.

While I question the diagnosis from Midas, the fact remains that you have at least a verbal contract with them, and if you signed anything authorizing repairs, you have a written contract with them. If you are a person of your word, you will pay them for the work that you authorized them to perform. Otherwise, you are not an honorable person. Additionally, you are potentially subjecting yourself to prosecution for failure to pay your bill.

How would you like it if someone decided to drink several bottles of the wine that you produce, and afterward decided that the wine was not good enough to pay for? That is equivalent to the bizarre rationalization that you are engaging in. You agreed to have these repairs performed, and you are legally bound to pay for these repairs.

If the Midas proprietor is willing to take $190 worth of wine in payment of his bill, I would consider myself fortunate, if I were you. Pay the man–either in cash or in wine–then get on with your life and with the repair of your car at a different establishment.

No compression on one cylinder. I never signed anything, it was just a verbal agreement. And the $190 worth of wine is just going to be subtracted from the bill so I will owe $300. Sounds like I should pay the man and not fight it.

Verbal agreements constitute a contract, just as written agreements do.
Pay the bill, or suffer the legal consequences.

While you most likely made a bad decision when you took your car to Midas, you need to pay your bill.

“Buyer’s remorse” may apply to purchases, but it does not apply to repairs.

You agreed to let Midas spend their time and money on your car to try and fix it. They performed the services that they said they would. You may not be happy with the outcome, but you owe them for the work they did on your car.

Midas should have informed you that replacing plugs and wires on a car that shows low compression is not standard operating industry procedure. When low compression was discovered all work not related to restoring compression should have been put on hold, this did not happen in your case. Now the question is ,how much less do you owe Midas since they continued doing work and installing parts on a car that had no chance to benifit from the work or parts.

Fight It! If this situation happened as you say, the mechanic (or at the very least the service writer) screwed up big time! Bad diagnostics, throwing parts at the problem, no signature for work to be performed, and no resolution?!?! I’d get fired for operating like that.

To test for cylinder compression the spark plugs have to come out. Ipso facto replacing the spark plugs will not by itself do anything to help your compression problem.
You come back later and they give you a seperate diagnosis for the same problem… Suspect.
Still no fix, yes? Means there is a problem with your engine they have misdiagnosed.
To top it off, all they have is a verbal contract.
I believe the old joke goes “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”

You have been done a great disservice by some poor diagnostic work and If I were in your position, I’d fight this as hard as I can.

Tell Midas you are more than willing to let them take back the parts they replaced, and put back in the old ones, and that you will pay them for 1 hour of their faulty diagnosis work, since none of their fixes actually worked, and you were only agreeing to pay the money if it actually fixed the issue, which it did not.

If they told you that replacing X and Y would fix the issue, then they are on the hook for it not working, and should return your car to you in the original condition.

The whole “broken valve spring” was most likely a hoax, just to pull more money out of your pocket. I haven’t seen a case of a broken valve spring in a modern engine in a long, long time.


I have only seen this once and it was in 1981 on a 70’s era Dodge 318. I have seen many more examples or where valve train components simply “uninstall” themselve due to retainers backing off. Problems do happen in the valve train area but like you say, incidences of outright spring breakage are low in my experience. It certainly is one of those “can happen” type of things that are used too scam people.

It was with air cooled VW’s that 90% of my internal engine repair work was done and just about anything was possible with those engines so perhaps that explains why I did not see much broken valve springs on the other models I worked with. I moved more into A/C and electrical, and just overall, over the years the need for internal engine repair work declined.

Sorry it is too late, but I strongly suggest avoid all chain operations like Midas and the quick oil change places. Find a good local mechanic (ask friends neighbors etc.) for a recommendation.

You technically owe them the $490, but I’d definitely raise holy heck and try to negotiate that price down.