Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

I need advice on dealing with a mechanic that made things worse


My car’s engine started shaking so I took it to a mechanic. The guy plugged a computer into the car and told me the problem was the spark plugs and coil. He told me it would cost $400 so I said fine. I get a call couple hours later and the guy is saying there is a problem with the car. He told me he replaced the coil and it didn’t fix it. He said that the engine stopped shaking, but now the car isn’t accelerating past 20-30 MPH. He told me that there is something wrong with the cars computer and I need to take it to a Lexus dealer. He told me he was going to look at it on Monday and see if he can fix it. He calls me on Monday stating that the coil was recalled and I should take it to the dealer to get it fixed. He said it would be free and I would be getting a letter from the dealer. I called the dealer myself and they said there wasn’t a recall on the coil. So the guy fixed the shaking but caused an even worse issue. My car isn’t accelerating past 20-30mph. He told me he wouldn’t charge me haha, what a gentleman. So I still haven’t picked the car up. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I will end up paying more now since the guy messed it up worse than it was. What should I do?

1 Like

Be thankful he didn’t charge you. He is out a coil and his labor. And he made your engine run smoother. You have no Idea if fixing that is going to be more or less than the original job or if what he did caused the new problem.


Kind of like being on the road with a gas gauge on E and there are two gas stations. One is 30 miles in the direction you want to go and the other one is 30 miles behind you. You would go toward the one that is closer to your destination which would seem to be near the Lexus dealer. Good advice if you don’t over-think it.

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether your mechanic made things worse or if there might have been more than one problem from the start.

This mechanic got in over his head. He misdiagnosed your car and he ate the cost of parts and labor to make it right. Now take your car (have it towed if necessary) to another mechanic or a Lexus dealership. I don’t see that you have any other choice, because you’ve already exhausted your options with this mechanic.

Personally, if I owned a luxury car like a Lexus, I wouldn’t skimp on maintenance and repairs; I’d take it to the dealership from the start, because I don’t see the point of taking a luxury car to a low budget repair shop.

I wonder if OP doesn’t have a clogged cat secondary to a long-neglected misfire? I purchased a car with “poor running” complaints (that is, could idle, but no power to go anywhere), and I immediately noticed and diagnosed the clogged cat…the first time I drove it long enough to warm it up, though, I got the misfire that likely caused the bad cat.

1 Like

Consider your options: 1) leave the car with the current mechanic or 2) take it somewhere else.
Option 2 is realistically the only option.
So first find another place to take your car, and how you will get the car there. Maybe a tow is needed as suggested by others.
Second, document whatever you can and consider if any of that can come from the current mechanic (even if you have to write something and have the mechanic sign or initial it). By document, you should include getting the parts he removed from your car. At a minimum, the documentation might help the new place with the repair.

Whether you will ‘end up paying more’ or not isn’t certain yet. Cross that bridge (with whatever help you might get from the documentation) if/when you come to it.

[Edit: you said “he replaced the coil” but an RX330 has separate ignition coils on each of the 6 spark plugs. You want to document how many and which one(s) he replaced.
Or maybe you heard ‘coil’ when he meant something else.]

So nobody could tell you if the mechanic did anything wrong until you go to the dealership and figure out what is wrong with the car now.

For now the mechanic has done a decent job; an attempt to fix the car and now not charging you for parts or labor. We don’t even know if he has done anything wrong. You might have needed those parts which you got for free.


Suggest to post the model year, and engine ID (if more than one engine was available) then it might be possible to get a second opinion here if there are any recalls and customer interest bulletins in effect.

I think what you are going through is just a normal happenstance for car owners. Nothing unusual at all. For a car out of warranty – which I presume this is – with an engine shaking, that’s likely a misfire, & it makes sense to take it to an inde shop. Preferrably somebody who specializes in lexus/toyota or at least Asian cars. So nothing wrong w/what you did. In most cases a good inde shop will be able to complete the job. But not always. And you fall in that second category, to complete the job requires specials tools only a dealership shop has access to. Repairing a car is like repairing a person, a trained pro using established practice is the best you can do. And that they’ll continue to work on the problem until it is fixed to your satisfaction. But like a physician, they’ll still charge for everything they do. And they may refer you to a specialist, who’ll also charge you for everything they do. You accept that principle for medical care right? Same thing goes for car repair.

So move on to the dealership. It’s a no-brainer. IMO he should have charged you for the diagnostic time, and for any parts he installed. Mechanics can’t work for hours on end for free and stay in business. But since he didn’t, suggest to use this shop again for your next Lexus repair.

Just offhand, I tend to agree with meanjoe75fan about a clogged converter and it likely being caused by a misfire.

Too bad more mechanics don’t use a vacuum gauge. That would verify a clogged converter in just a few minutes.

At this point I can’t find fault with the mechanic although one would hope the above situation would cross his mind.

1 Like

Wrong, the mechanic did not fix anything and has basically said he doesn’t know what to do.

A Lexus rx330 is the corporate cousin to the Toyota Highlander, a very common vehicle

Thus, it shouldn’t be any harder to diagnose the misfiring and lack of power . . . plugged cat comes to mind, due to the severe misfires, perhaps . . . than a Toyota

As for maintenance, if you can maintain the HIghlander, you can maintain this vehicle


Toyota and Lexus use a cylinder layout quite different from GM and Ford. I wonder if the guy replaced the correct coil?

If I’m ever in doubt, I look up the cylinder layout

There is nothing terribly mysterious or even very unique about these vehicles that are mostly mechanical clones of Toyota Highlanders.