It was an interesting week at the shop

10 days ago we did a major but routine service on a Prius. Monday the customer calls and says this morning when the engine started the car sounded like a motorcycle so she was having AAA tow it in. We found someone had removed the catalyst while parked at her apartment.

Tuesday we have a Chevy Equinox towed in, customer says the car will not start, offers no more info. We open the hood and find several coolant hoses loose, a motor mount missing, air intake duct off the throttle body, a replacement starter, and a used wrong battery. Also we notice the front body panels of the car are misaligned and missing fasteners, and lifting up the carpet pad on the dash shows airbag deployment. We repair what we can on the engine, test the battery and find it drops to 8 volts under load. Get the OK to install a new battery and find the issue is a no crank. Customer states he has been having this problem for a year. Engine will not turn over when key is turned. Testing and diag leads us to find the throttle body is failing. Yes, on this car if the engine computer does not think it can properly control the throttle it will disable starter operation. Replaced the throttle body and car started.

Wednesday a first-time customer comes in for an oil change on his Subaru. As the service writer goes out to get the mileage she notices a gasoline smell. Customer says he just filled tank and might have spilled. Meanwhile there is now a growing puddle of gas in the parking lot. The gas tank is damaged and leaking and needs to be replaced. Customer says “Oh, I did hear a loud clunk when I was driving here, like I ran over something.” A $1400 upsell on an oil change before we even get the car in the door.

Thursday we worked on a Ford Transit 350 3.2 diesel. We replaced the glow plugs, delivered the van (fleet customer) at 4:30pm. 8:00am Friday the customer is on the phone saying there are a bunch of warning lights on and could we have left something loose. I go over to get the van and find that someone has cut the catalyst out. And also stolen the one off the truck parked next to this one.

Friday we get a pre-purchase inspection. One of our regular customer is updating from her 2001 Sienna, found a private seller with a 2018 Camry. But, seller won’t let our customer drive the car before buying it. Seller won’t let me drive the car. Seller won’t allow me to do anything for an inspection other than check the oil and raise the car and look underneath. We advised our customer not to buy this car based on the seller being difficult.


I always love seeing these ads for cars for sale where the seller has endless excuses why the car cannot be test driven, such as no current registration/insurance, but swears up and down that it really does run fine (or works fine other than some very minor problem). And these kind of ads run the gamut from $10,000+ newer cars all the way down to $500 “beaters”. I can’t believe anyone would really be dumb enough to fall for such an excuse, but who knows?

Was the advice taken ?

Not sure. Customer left after the “inspection” and said she would think about things.

100 million cars in US. Has to be many crazy seller stories.

What year Equinox? I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop with my 2013.

I want to say 2010 but I don’t recall for sure.

A few years ago in OK City someone’s Mazda broke down on I-40. They left the car and returned an hour or so later with a tow truck. As the tow driver winched it up on the bed he noticed the catalytic converter was missing.
Someone had stopped right on the side of the Interstate and helped themselves to it with a Sawzall.

Still not as bad as many decades ago during the era of the 1969 Z-28s with the hot 302 in them. Someone went onto the local Chevy dealer lot here one night and heisted 2 engines, 2 transmissions, and 1 set of wheels right off the lot while doing it under the mercury vapor lighting.

There’s an organized group systematically going through area subdivisions at night going through cars to steal all the unsecured goodies people leave in unlocked cars, stealing some of the cars, and cutting catalytic converter off quite a few vehicles.

The local community FB group also recently had a “new member” openly advertising that he buys catalytic converters with no documentation needed, no questions asked. After several weeks he disappeared from the group right before all the middle of the night cat thefts.

I am baffled by the costumer who did not feel the used car seller’s behavior was warning enough not to bother.

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The equinox sounds like a rebuild that was not finished. And then someone asks how it is otherwise? The funny thread continues.

There are a lot of people out there who get completely focused on what they perceive to be a “great deal!”, and go completely tunnel vision on any other expenses or consequences.

Of course, by that point the seller already has your money and can’t be found again.

There’s been a rash of cat thefts where I live too. I’m just waiting for them to hit my truck. Of course, they’ll be on camera when they do, so hopefully we can catch them.

A fellow employee where I work got off work one day and told me her Plymouth would not start. It was parked in the company parking lot so I went out and checked. When I raised the hood I saw her carburetor was missing.
My son was in the Market for a Corvette. He called to tell me he found one he liked but the title had a “T” on it and the seller told him that stood for “Totaled”. I asked him, “There are lots of Vette that have not been totaled, so why buy one that has?” He wisely did not buy that Vette.

Reminds me of looking for a house for my son to rent. Owner said he was called out of state for his service in “the Armed forces, branch of army” and that he had no family in town to show the house, but that he would FedEx me the keys after I paid the rent and security deposit. Uh-huh. Reported him to the state Attorney General.

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The guy might even be lying about being an active duty soldier

Impersonating a military member is among the worst scams/crimes out there, as far as I’m concerned


Over the years I’ve had several experiences while traveling of a dishonest jerk trying to scam me about my car. One gas station attendant tried telling me I needed a new tire soon as he saw my out of state license plate. Another time my mom and I caught the gas station guy letting air out of one of the tires.

On balance, though, three times I have had car trouble while traveling and was treated with total honesty. First time turned out to be a clogged fuel filter. Second time was an alternator going bad. Third time was a burned out headlight. Each time the problem was fixed properly at a fair price.

Many years ago, 60 Minutes did a hidden camera segment focused on a few scamming gas stations near I-95 Interchanges in Georgia and South Carolina. One of them specialized in slitting customers’ fan belts when they lifted the hood to check the oil. Another one used to squirt oil on a rear shock absorber if a customer asked for a tire inflation check. God-only-knows how many customers paid for unnecessary belt and shock absorber replacements before these scams were exposed.

That being said, many years ago, when I had the misfortune to travel to Florida in a co-worker’s completely un-maintained Ford Maverick, we broke down twice, and in both cases we received swift and fairly-priced repairs in Virginia and South Carolina.

Was it Mike Wallace?

That guy would nail people . . . but good :smiley:

I can’t recall exactly which correspondent it was, but I’m sure that it wasn’t Mike Wallace. I think that it was one of their “minor” correspondents.