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Is mechanic trying to screw me? Negligence? What can I do myself? (replaces "sue me" post)

Hi All -

Looks like a great community, so thanks in advance. I have a 2005 Hyundai Elantra GLS that has recently started needing pricey repairs. Please look at the estimate below and let me know what I should do myself (I’m a bit of a tinkerer and have a mechanical engineering degree). I’d rather buy tools than lose it to labor. Also really skeptical of mechanics in general and this one in particular - i.e. they wanted to charge $100 to replace the cabin air filter (typical cost I think). I bought the filter online for $20 and did it myself in 15 minutes.

ESTIMATE FOR REPAIRS: $1056 (parts + labor)

- Replace lower control arm bushings (2 x P $68 / L $99)

- Alignment ($80)

- Upper and lower radiator hoses (1 x P$69 / L $150)

- Rear disk brake service (whatever that means) (P $56 / L $101)

- Rear Brake Rotors ( 2 x P $66 / L $0)

- Oil change ($24)


- Check brakes for squeal

- Alignment

- Belt adjustment

- R&R Both rear struts and mounts

- Front Brake Disk Pad Replacement

- Front Brake Rotors

- R/R ABS Sensor to be replaced

- Two tires, inspection, emission, oil change

Specific questions:

- Were they negligent 4 months ago in doing the check and not catching the things they did this time?

- If they did front brakes/rotors last time, shouldn’t they have seen the bushings were bad? I shouldn’t have to pay for alignment twice!

- If they did rear struts/mounts and were supposed to look at brakes 4 months ago (3,500 miles) - shouldn’t they have caught the rear brake problems then?? Would it have saved the rotors?

- $99 labor for replacing each lower control arm bushing? At $75/hr that’s 1.5 hours. Does it really take that long for each one? 2 hours for radiator hoses? Seems way too high.

- Of the invoice items, which do you recommend doing myself? How long would they take? i.e. bushings looks possible, but I’d rather have photos to work from.

Many thanks!

Estimate scan attached.

The only thing I will state is do not use chains for repair. They have folks who sole profession is selling repairs that may or may not be needed to make the highest commission possible. I see the name Goodyear and this says it all. Firestone, Jiffy Lube etc live off the same model.

My suggestion is finding an independent by asking around. Have them do minor stuff to feel them out. A good one will keep people’s budget/needs and mindset in mind while performing decent work.

Run from chains.

The prices except hoses seem in line. The real question is do you really need all that work?

If you need tires go to a tire store. If you want mechanical repairs at a fair price find an independent mechanic.

The chain shops, such as the one you’ve been patronizing, make their money by “upselling” and taking advantage of the perceived automotive ignorance of their customers.

If you want to work on the car yourself purchase a service manual and some tools. But you’ll still need a mechanic, so you really should start looking around for one.

Find an independent shop and stay away from the chains. You’ll save money in the long run.

That’s enlightening - I thought he was an independent who happens to sell Goodyear, but it’s important to know it’s otherwise. Thanks.

They do appear to be an independent dealer. Lots of independent shops dispaly a logo for a particular tire brand–part of a marketing deal that gets them a better price, not to fear.
The prices they charged seem pretty reasonable for your area. Not cheap, but not overpriced either. Can’t say whether you needed teh work, but it isn’t unreasonable that they didn’t see it first time around (might not have beena problem–especially if you didn’t tell them of problems). Time charged usually comes from a guide, not actual time.
As for the rear brakes, you don’t save the rotors. They are almost always replaced as a mmatter of course these days due to the low cost and the thinner materials. Look at it this way-- you got an extra four months out of them.

First of all, if you have any doubts about the needs of the car or the prices, get a second opinion. It appears you are having doubts about this particular place. Trust is a huge factor when choosing a repair facility.

As far as prices it’s hard to judge since prices vary from market to market, but keep in mind, what you can buy the parts for and what they can sell them to you for is two totally different things. They have huge overhead to pay for every month to keep the doors open.

Could they have found some of this stuff four months ago? Possibly. Wouldn’t be the first time somthing was missed during an inspection.

As far as what you can do yourself, that’s a question only you can answer. Just remember, if you try a repair and do something wrong, it will probably cost more to repair after the fact then it would have if just left to a profesional in the first place.

Lastly, ignore the chain store hating mafia. Not all chain store’s, independent’s and dealer’s are all the same. I have seen the best and worst of all of them. What you need to find is someone who will take care of your needs that you trust regardless of the name on the front of the building.

The methods used by this business seems to fit a business model for most chain tire stores. Their large corporate image, high traffic locations and the somewhat inviting retail aura seem to combine to be the perfect bait for the timid car owners. Something like McDonald’s when travelling, they look safe and the customer talks to a friendly, knowledgeable man who appears to be on their side who will deal with the mechanics in the back. Their marketing method is to scare the car owner out of all they can at every opportunity. You just can’t imagine the laughs that mechanics have when customers bring in a car for a second opinion with an estimate from a chain store. I would strongly advise anyone to avoid chain stores for automobile service unless you are knowledgeable, know just what you want, and expect them to do only what you wish without being scared by their phony stories of wheels falling off on the way home.

Imagine that, a business set up in a high traffic area, with an inviting aura. Shameful. How do they survive? What a terrible business model. They should try to be less inviting, I’m sure their accountant would be behind that 100%.
Note: this isn’t a chain store, but don’t let facts get in the way of your argument.

The business model you describe I can apply to many dealer’s, independent’s and chain store’s.

So the question I have to ask is, where do you suggest the OP take his vehicle since absolutey no one can be trusted?

My point is, not all chain stores are bad, just like not all independents are good. There are good ones out there in all types. The trick is to find one the OP can trust and build a relationship with regardless of type of facility it is.

Personally I think just bashing a certain type of facility and not the others help’s the OP in no way whatsoever solve his problem’s.

Just some food for thought.

Posts that start out with some variant on the “Am I getting screwed” never go even 50/50 for the OP. Don’t expect people to say what you want to hear because we are smart enough to realize we only hear half the story and anyone that starts out with a slam has a lot further to go than someone who simply presents facts.

Right on!

Boy has this opened a can of worms! Thanks for all the input.

It seems the most important thing is I don’t fully trust the guy to do quality diagnosis and reasonable priced repairs. And he’s a chain store, another (probably?) strike against him. Storefront photo attached, and I’ll be darned, it says Goodyear all over it. Why didn’t I see that before??

So a second opinion is warranted. But like Barteik said, where do I take it? My options now are 1) An independent I liked until they improperly worked on the brakes, which failed while driving. 2) Qyst (another tire chain) who left a ball-peen hammer in my dad’s tire. 3) PepBoys? 4) Go to an auto-parts store and ask for a recommendation?..

(this is not an advertisement)
You can go to and look in the shop finder. Most (notice I said most) shops on IATN will have a good reputation for honesty and integrity.

It’s worth a try, otherwise just try out a few shops with little things and see who you feel comfortable with.


Car Talk as a mechanics database with reviews from users of this site. I found quite a few in your area by entering the ZIP code:

Just for peace of mind you can go to one of the recommended ones (preferably one who is specialized in Hyundai which you can also filter for in the database where you enter the ZIP code). Most likely you will find out that your original mechanic is perfectly reasonable and reputable. But if you need the peace of mind get a secons opinion. And Google for Hyundai Elantra forums where you can find people helping each other with repairs. E.g.:

Keep us posted how this turns out (many people unfortunately never return to tell us the outcome).


Check out mechanics files at car talk home page, and see what recommendations are made for your zip code.

I also consider AAA rated and approved shops when I am on the road. At least those shops have gone through an inspection and approval process.

Thirdly, I take recommendations from friends and relatives. On a trip this summer, I took the recommendation of the AAA tow truck driver when I broke down in New Mexico, and his recommendation was right on. I found a quality independent shop that I might not have considered were it not for his recommendations.

Perfect, thanks! I’ll most likely go for the second opinion at one of the database shops, and will definitely report back. Already cross-posted on an Elantra forum here:

Have them do the hoses for one-fifty.

The short answer to the original question is: yes!
Thanks to the input from all of you, we took it for a second opinion at a shop with good ratings in the Mechanics File. They replaced the rear brake pads and resurfaced the rotors for $200. He said radiator hoses are fine, and bushings show some wear (after 90K miles) but by no means need immediate replacement.

Thanks to you, we saved $800 and are better educated for the future. Our sincerest thanks :slight_smile:

Obviously they are just what many people are looking for…