How to find an honnest mechanic?


I bought an old Huynday Elantra. The guy who sold it said that it was losing oil but as long as I was putting some in everything would be fine. That was in June 2007.

I went to the garage the guy bouht the car from ( new in 1997) to get the inspection. They told me that very thing was fine. No mention of any leak.

In November, I went back for a change of oil. Still every thing was dandy. After driving two weeks, I went on vacation. When I came back, I took the car on the highway and 20 min later the “check engine” light turned on.I stopped in the next gas station and checked for oil (this is the only place I know in the engine) and sure enough, there was none. I put some and went straight to the garage. They charged me 100 dollars to tell me that there was an oil leak and to resset the computor( I didn’t know that crappy car needs computor!). I asked the guy how it was possible since every thing was fine a month ago. He told me that these are things happening very fast and that if I didn’t change the gasket the motor would burn.

Of course I told him that I was not dealing with crooks and I left.

The manager of the building I am living in recommanded a friend of her nephew.

He also told me to change the gasket, some plugs and stuff that hold the wheels…521 dollars.

That was the last week-end of 2007.

Since then, I had to add oil 2 times. I left several messages he never replied. So today, I left work early and got to see him. He had the guts to tell me that leak may be due to bad pistons/compressor or what ever. When I said that after working on it the car is losing more oil then before he had exactly the same answer then the fist crook: that stuff happens very fast if you don’t fix it you will burn the engine.

So now I am wondering: Is there one honnest car mechanic in the DC area? I mean a guy who tells you that there is nothing to do because the car is too old or will they all abuse my trust because I am a woman ( a foreign woman)? or do they do that to every one?

If I were Princess lea, I will call for Obi-wan Kenobi…but I am not;-)

Any suggestions to find a good person who will take care of the next car I buy?

Thank you very much

When you buy a ten year old car, nothing will be perfect. The oil consumption can come from a leaky gasket, passing through the rings or other parts of the engine, so the mechanic who told you that was not wrong. It is entirely possible your engine needs to be rebuilt to eliminate all the problems. It will be your choice whether to spend the money there or not. I do think the $100 diagnosis charge to reset the check engine light was high. I am also not sure that they fixed the symptom of the check engine light, because low oil is not usually a reason for the check engine light to come on. Usually the red oil pressure light comes on. Once you found out you had an oil burner, you needed to pay much, much closer attention to the oil level then and now.
If you don’t like your current mechanic, then look at Mechanics files on the car talk home page to find a recommended mechanic near you. Get someone to look at it and provide you with some choices: rebuild, get a used engine, or fix the problems without a rebuild. The estimate will cost money, but you need to know what exactly is wrong and costs to repair or replace.

Sorry you had to much trouble so far, but if you buy another used car, pay and get it inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy. Do not rely on the word of the seller or his mechanic.

Obi-Wan would use his light-sabre on that thing which would cut the resale value too. You take a risk when you buy old cars; that’s why they cost less. Try another. Try one with a reputation for reliability. I know what you heard about Hyundai. When they get over 50,000 miles, that good reputation is out the window. Hyundai isn’t doing so well. I got that info from reading Car Questions.

I don’t think you’re dealing with crooks at all and there’s things being lost in the communication. You bought an “old” Hyundai in spite of being told it was losing oil.

You had the oil changed, drove around for 2 weeks, went on vacation, discover the oil level was not registering on the dipstick, and that could bring up the question of how many times you opened the hood to check the oil level. And on a car that you were told was an oil consumer from the start.

Renault16? Wow, that’s one from a long, long, time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Nonetheless, it’s possible (possible!) you are getting accurate information from these mechanics, and that your car needs immediate attention.

There are some problems that happen quickly and have dire consequences. There are other problems that develop slowly are not so serious.

Which gasket are they telling you to change? There are MANY gaskets on your car. A few of them are of critical importance.

You need to give us more specific information.

It sounds very possible to me that you were in fact, not given incorrect information and your car may actually need what they’re recommending. It’s up to you whether you’d rather just replace the car, but usually if more than one mechanic gives you the same diagnoses without knowing about the others it’s probably correct.

Your question about how: "To find a “good person” who will take care of the next car I buy? "

The answer is: YOU are the best person to take care of the car!

I wish you had posted these questions sooner (like right when you bought it) because you need to be reminded that the “leaking” oil is a must check, each week, every time you fill up with gas thing! It sounds to me, like you just checked it, when the light came on, and didn’t really pay attention to it at other times.

I have to remind you that you did NOT buy a NEW car. You bought a used, ten year old car that was disclosed to you that YES, there was a problem. When you asked for info about repairing it, you did not want to repair it. Whose fault is that?

Just so you know, when a car is “burning oil” as it sounds like your car is doing, it is NOT unheard of to have to put in a quart of oil with EACH fill up. (maybe more, maybe less) BUT, you do have to keep checking it frequently. As an earlier post stated; you didn’t buy a new Cadillac, you bought a used Hyundai. There IS a huge difference.

Since you asked for thoughts on how to keep yourself out if this situation, the answer may be as close as your mirror!