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Does Sears owe me a partial refund?

12/22/11 1999 Ford Taurus power steering out, Sears replaced Steering pump. 1/6/12 Took back because steering still hard. Bubbling fluid when filler cap removed. Sears replaced Rack & Pinion for $729. 3/21/12 power steering not working. Took back & sears put on another pump. they did not charge for second pump. I believe 1st pump was bad, not rack & pinion & would like to ask sears for 50% of the $729 rack and Pinion back ??
THanks Larry, Charlottesville, VA

Good luck.

They may owe you…but it’s going to be your word against them.

For future reference…DON’T take your car to Sears for automotive work. Tires and batteries (MAYBE)…But repairs??? NEVER. Find a good local mechanic and develop a relationship with him/her.

I agree with Mike. Find a good independent mechanic.

I wonder if there was initially something wrong with the steering rack and pinion and this caused the first pump to fail. If the car steering was fine after the steering rack and pinion was replaced, the first replacement pump might have been damaged. If all is working correctly now, you are o.k. You may have needed both a steering rack and pinion and a pump.

How many miles are on this '99?

I’m inclined to agree with Tridaq, but whether he’s right or wrong it’ll be impossible now to prove the truth. If it’s operating properly now, I’d just accept that the car was due for some expensive parts changes and enjoy the ride. You can certainly ask for money back, but don’t get your hopes up.

Because it sounds as though the problem was somewhat vague and difficult to diagnose it is difficult to lay any blame on the shop for throwing parts at the car. In fact, as Triedaq suggests, the rack may have failed causing the pressure to dead head on the original pump causing it to fail and then ruining the replacement pump and only with a new rack could a pump survive on the car. There is a better than even chance for that being the case. No one wants to hear my sob stories on Ford power steering systems. Even the dealer supplied OE pumps whine and gurgle and I attached a memo from Ford regarding that complaint to every invoice for power steering service on Fords. Some customers still blamed me.

The Ford power steering problems seem to be so common that Ford has offered a Saginaw (GM) pump as an option and here is an after market set up for the GM pump.

Did you and Sears make clear who would be responsible for what if Sear’s first guess was not the cause or maybe only partly right before you told them to go ahead?

I am not trying to get on your case. It is a very common problem between the car owner and the shop. If, like it appears to be the current case, the first guess may have been wrong and nobody had a clear agreement as to who would then be responsible for what.

BTW, while I don’t think this specific problem is a problem because it was Sears, you would have had the same, or maybe worse at a quick oil change joint.

Your best bet is to find a good local INDEPENDENT mechanic and build a good relationship.

A good mechanic with a pressure gauge might have saved you time and money.

It has 64,094 mostly easy city driving.

No such thing as “Easy” city driving. City driving is the WORSE kind of driving on a vehicle.

A pressure gauge might have found the problem but few dealers and fewer independent shops have gauges and all the adapters necessary to splice into the pressure line. Possibly there are some adapters to fit the power steering pressure switch that is used on many late models but I haven’t seen them. I know some shops that always replace the pump when they replace the rack. Getting bit a few times makes shop owners very careful. Better to be mad about the price than mad about having to come back was always a good motto.

If you have the rack and pinion that was replaced, you might have evidence that it was not bad. Without that I don’t think you have anything to prove your case. If Sears says “no” then what?

I cannot imagine that the rack would not have been returned for rebuid by now.