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Itemize repair bill?

If you have heard the story about the computer repair when the guy just took out a hammer and tapped on the side of the housing and charged $750.00, then you’ll understand my question. The itemized bill was: Tapping - $10

Knowing where to tap - $740. I had borrowed a friend’s car for several days while min was in the shop, and his had cruise control. When I got mine back, I decided to try my cruise control which had not worked for along time. Still didn’t work, and the car started to lose power when it shifted into overdrive. I would have to give it more gas so it would downshift, and then it had power again until it shifted to a higher gear. As I slowed soming into town, I realized it was losing power whenever the tach dropped below about 2500. I didn’t connect it right away with having tried the cruise, but when the mechanic hooke up the computer, the first error code said something about cruise control. I asked him if we could just disable the cruise and see what that did. I knew I was in for it when he began reading my owner’s manual to find out where the cruise fuse was. A friend had told me about this mechanic and said he had worked for GM and Ford. My van is a 93 Pontiac, so I figured he might have seen a few. Turns out he only worked for Ford. I should have taken it somewhere else the next day, but I felt kind of obligated because he didn’t charge me for the hour or so of trying diffeent stuff and replacing a crimped hose to the transmission. Well, he read all his manuals that night and was able to disable the servo and get me back to full power. Bill $150. I didn’t ask him to itemize, but I suspected that I was paying mostly for his education. Error code 68 turned out to be some wierd thing that makes a 6 run on 3 cylinders. Has anyoneever heard of anything like that? I’m just wondering about this mechanic and I’d like to ask him exactly how he disabled the servo. I talked to two Pontiac service guys and of course they couldn’t diagnose the problem without hooking the car t their own computer for $85 or so, which this mechanic had already done for free. I’m not going to lose sleep over the $65 difference for labor, but I’m not sure what to think. Any thoughts from anyone with similar experience would be welcome.

Yes, it’s terrible you ran into an honest mechanic. (He admitted his ignorance, and revealed his means to lessen that ignorance.) Would you rather have the other type?

At the dealer, the $85 was just a start. Actually doing the work probably would have gotten your bill past the $150 you paid. Be happy about the honest mechanic and his good results.

The post is confusing, but let me see if I understand correctly.

You have a Pontiac of unknown vintage and (to us) unknown history, which loses power when the “hasn’t worked for a long time” cruise control is engaged.

The mechanic checked the owner’s manual for a quick reference on where the fuse was (perfectly acceptable) spent an hour or so working on it, hooked it up to his diagnostic computer, replaced a crimped tranny “hose” (cooling line? vacuum modulator hose?), read his manuals that evening to continue to research the problem, and ultimately disconnected the servo the next morning, getting you back full power. And he only charged you $150???

This guy deserves a good samaritan award.
I wonder about him too…how can he afford to give away his time and expertise like that? And why does he?

Pontiac Trans Sport built between 1990 and 2000. The DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) 68, on OBD 1 GMs, is for “O/D (over drive) ratio error (4l80-E [transmission model])”. This trouble code is for a transmission problem (maybe, the lockup torque converter, vehicle speed sensor (vss), transmission range selector, etc.).
You need a transmission shop to look at this. It might not be that expensive to fix.

Here is a link to a site which discusses this trouble code:

A '93 Pontiac!! A Pontiac??? You post was longer than this vehicle is WORTH!! The fact that it runs AT ALL is a miracle! The Cruise Control should have failed LONG AGO, along with the A/C and the 8-track tape player…

Good Post, Caddyman! LOL!!!

Thanks for those of you who had constructive advice. As for those who just like to rag on anyone to make you feel better about yourself, I happen to like my '93. It’s no longer emitting Benzine fumes when it sits in the sun, and my mechanic agrees that it’s a miracle it’s still emitting exhaust. The last '93 TranSport I owned had 296,000 on it and was still showing no signs of stopping when it got rear-ended by a school bus and struck by lightning. Serves me right for buying another one, right? Well, this one is still going strong a year and a half later and getting 24mpg. I’m happy for you if you can buy something new, but kindly don’t disparage my vintage vehicle with nasty comments about its age. As for the length and worth of my post, I was just verifying the attention span of the average CarTalk listener. Happily, most of them are doing better than the last two.

I must say that I once had a walk in customer ask the price for some certain repair and after looking under his hood I went to the office and opened a shop manual to get the flat rate time and check for TSBs. The owner asked why I needed a book. He insisted that a good mechanic should already know how to fix cars. I thanked him for dropping in and opened the yellow pages to auto repair shops and recommended he find find a GOOD mechanic. I was just above average.