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Mechanic broke hood release ?should they fix it free

I recently had my Honda Element (2006) 148,000 miles in for a oil change. When the service rep brought me my keys he told me that the hood release lever broke or seperated from the cable. It would be $209 to replace it. They had the replacement cable and lever in stock and could do it right away. It would be two hours. I did not think much of it but turned down the repair because I had to leave for work. Thought I would come back another day and have it done.
So I am at home that night and mention to my wife that the dealer broke my hood release lever. That I needed to go back and get it repaired. She asks “how much?”. $209.
It is her opinion that the dealer should replace the cable with lever for free since they broke it. Now the thought had not even crossed my mind. BUT… now I am unsettled and unsure. I can’t decide if the dealer should or should not cover the cost. Meet me half way and cover half the cost?
What do others think?

Cars get old and things eventually wear out and break. It’s not the mechanic’s fault that the time he had to pull that release lever to open the hood to do his job happened to be the time it happened to break. Unfortunately, many customers don’t see things this way. I would put this in the same category as “you replaced my shocks two months ago and now my transmission is slipping. You owe me a transmission!” Not exactly the same thing, but similar, and people really say these things.

If he was negligent in opening the hood maybe, but can’t see how he could be negligent in pulling a lever once. Most likely a manufacturing issue. Kind of like a door handle breaking when you open the door. Would they be responsible for that?

If you (or your wife for that matter) went to Macy’s and while pulling on the big glass door to open it, the door came off its hinge and fell to the ground and shattered, would you feel responsible to fix the door?

The only way I could see the dealer being responsible for this would be if the person pulling the hood release tried to rip it out by the roots and proving that will be impossible.

At 7 years and 148k miles with who knows how many tug cycles that lever has been through my guess is that it’s just a worn part finally giving up the ghost.

Several weeks ago I walked out to my Lincoln, gently pulled on the door handle, and it snapped right off with hardly any force at all being exerted.
My youngest son has had 2 door handles break on his Camry; also with little force being applied.
(Broken Camry handles are also common as houseflies thanks to thin plastic and poor design.)

Mechanics run into things like this all of the time and there is simply no way in the world of knowing if and when something is going to break.
If the car had 15k miles on it and was a year or so old then there could possibly be a legitimate request for the dealer to step in and pay for it in full or maybe halfsies.

They should fix it at cost,if they stripped the oil plug I would expect them to fix it-Kevin

Negotiate ! If it’s a dealer you do regular service with for oil changes, they want you to come back for more potential money making opportunities. It’s that simple ! They may even eat the cost if you are threatening to go elesewhere…in a nice polite way of course.

I once had a customer pick up their car and call from home complaining that I had broken the interior latch handle. Logically it would seem that since I got out of the car after parking it the handle was not broken or I would have known it. The customer returned demanding I repair it and I did replace the door latch handle at no charge while she waited and let her know that she should find another shop because I would not work on her car again. And I didn’t.

Like the others have said…if I come to your house for dinner, go to use the bathroom, and while flushing the toilet the handle breaks off, do you expect me to pay for it?

Unless you have some reason to believe the handle was mistreated, you have to assume the staff at the dealer just pulled on it like anyone else would have, and that it broke in the course of normal usage. It’s your car and your hood release, you pay for it.

There are things a mechanic does to your car that they should be responsible for. Like when a car falls off the lift…That is negligence on part of the mechanic.

But I seriously doubt that the mechanic did anything negligence that caused the cable to break. Probably just happened.

Although I have seen mechanics who are very unscrupulous who SAY the cable broke…and charge you $300 to fix it…but it actually NEVER broke. They just wanted to get another $300 out of a some sucker. And unfortunately some are really good at ripping off their customers they even make you feel good about it.

Regrettably, Mike is correct. There are enough crooked mechanics out there to make the public suspicious of all mechanics. And I keep harping for everyone to establish a relationship with an honest and capable mechanic to greatly reduce problems and conflicts.

On a 6 year old car I’d just chalk a broken pull cable up to wear & tear. That makes the cost to repair the owner’s. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. I defy any normal man to break a steel cable that isn’t already ready to pop.

I also agree with those that say there are so many shakey automotive repair experiences that people have a deep distrust of mechanics. It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that there are a lot of shady characters, a lot of minimally skilled workers, and plenty of shops that only care about revenues in. Every driver that’s owned cars for more than 10 years has at least one legitimtate tale of woe. I have a few of my own.

And I keep harping for everyone to establish a relationship with an honest and capable mechanic to greatly reduce problems and conflicts.

That’s the BEST advice that’s given on this forum.

the problem is wading through all those who are dubious to find an honest one, and actually believing he’s an honest one.

Said it once and will say it again,they should meet you halfway.Been under the influence of too many hamfisted mechanics-Kevin

When a muffler shop broke my hood release on my 1998 Civic (they were replacing the catalytic converter in 2003 or 2004), they replaced the entire hood release mechanism for free. They tried to claim someone had previously broken it and glued it, but I didn’t let them get away with that lie. I told them I was the original owner, and it had never been broken.

Here is the deal: On many cars, the hood release is a lever you pull up. On my Civic (and probably your Element), it’s a handle you pull straight out. The ham-fisted mechanic who worked on your car pulled the handle upward instead of pulling it outward, and he snapped it. The mechanic should have known better, and the shop should replace it for free.

Don’t let them make you pay for their mistake. If you pull this handle in the proper manner, it should last the life of the car.

Like Click and Clack like to say, these shops have “bonehead insurance,” and this is a clear case of a bonehead move.

Of course my advice is contingent upon you having the same type of hood release as I do in my Civic. If you have the lever type of hood release, my advice doesn’t apply.

Thanks everyone. Based on your comments and a little homework I decided to pay for the repair at the shop in question.
*the cable did not break. The pull lever seperated from the cable head. It looks like it is a pressed or hot molded fit. The plastic broke.
*it is not a straight pull but a true lever. I think the plastic was fatigued from age.
*the shop has never been greedy. They have always been pretty conservative on recommending additional repairs. The relationship has been too long to trash.
*Right now I have a mini vise grip clamped to the cable. Tries chic.

“*Right now I have a mini vise grip clamped to the cable. Tries chic.”

I once had a golf course job where I had to drive one of those John Deere Gators using Vise Grips. None of the pedals worked. You grabbed the cable with the grips on the centre console and pried against the console to go.

How did we stop it? Well, we didn’t… I nearly backed it into the river once because there weren’t any brakes.

There was a post a couple of days ago where the boyfriend of the poster’s daughter was driving a Neon without a hood. The poster wondered if the lack of a hood would cause a problem. Perhaps the girl’s boyfriend was better off than the OP–the dealer couldn’t damage the hood latch mechanism.

You all make some excellent points…Establishing a good rapport with an honest mechanic is all well and good. But, you often don’t know until you run into situations like this if they are. They have their perspective as well as the service manager and owner to deal with. They have a business model and atmosphere established by the owner. There is little the mechanic can do and sometimes, it’s a decision on his part to portray the situation in his favor to management. He has to retain this air of competency which may mean leaving the customer to hold the bag.

I had this situation occur with a mechanic I did have a good relationship with who managed to break all three adjustment screws in the three carbs on my outboard. The bill of $2100 dollars meant, I go to the owner and negotiate. So, a good relationship with the mechanic is not always the solution. Negotiate from the top down. Relationships are sometimes secondary to reality…but it ALWAYS helps to be friendly, courteous and factual to all and importantly, have a sense of humor. We aren’t talking about much money in car repair terms. Keep things in perspective.