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Mechanic-customer relationship

Question for anyone out there! I had a coolant leak I took in to be fixed on my aging suv. Mechanic said radiator so they fixed it ~$750.Next day suv still leaking brought it back in and they said water pump and all the belts with it ~$1200. I took my suv for a second opinion to dealer and they said suv was worth $900 and would be stupid to put any more into it so I traded it in to put money towards new car. I have no proof the mechanic was negligent and missed the leak, it could have started once new radiator closed the system. If they told me I would need radiator and water pump right away I would have never invested in their part and labor and just sold my suv. Any thoughts? Is the mechanic liable for my loss or is this how it goes? Thanks.

Hard to say really, we didn’t find out about a little hole in the radiator until a day after they replaced the thermostat and a little puff of steam would come out from under the hood.

If you believed a local dealer that was a $300 car at best (initally only $100). Had no more problems with the cooling system afterwards and drove it for a couple more years before replacing it with a new car.

A new car was probably inevitable but I don’t know how well this suv treated you otherwise. Our perfect storm with the 1990 Mazda Protoge cost us $900 to fix the oil leak (front cam seal) timing belt,water pump,new brakes and a tune-up. The car was about 15yrs old at the time and started right up every time and barely used oil (as little as 6,000mi/qt) even when it went to a new home at 194,000 miles.

Any vehicle with only a $900 book value has to be getting pretty “long in the tooth” so you fix one thing and a dozen more things pop up.
You can’t blame your mechanic for age and wear.

What often happens with old cooling systems is that the weakest part starts to leak. After you fix that, it’s now the strongest part, and since there’s no leak the pressure builds up on the next-weakest part and that part springs a leak.

That’s why when I’m replacing a leaking coolant hose in an old vehicle, I just replace all of them - because otherwise odds are that it’ll be on the side of the road again soon with another leak.

I do think it’s nice when mechanics tell customers that, but whether that would have made you sell the truck right then or not is your call.


It’s water over the dam, now. You’ve washed your hands of the problem and since you no longer have the vehicle, what evidence have you got to hold against a mechanic, anyhow.

Besides, at the time, you did want your mechanic to fix the leak, right? You did agree to have it done, right?

The money you’ve spent, and whatever portion of it is perceived as possibly wasted, purchased you some wisdom in the School of Experience. Hopefully, you have learned from it and can apply it to future situations.

Now, I wouldn’t stress over it. It’s done. That is the past. Look ahead and enjoy the open road ahead of you!


You no longer own the vehicle. When you chose to trade it in, you forfeited any claim you might’ve had against the mechanic. It’s also possible the dealer wasn’t being entirely forthcoming about it either in regards the vehicles value. They have a vested interest in selling you car, the mechanic does not.


There’s an old saying about the weakest link in the chain being the first to give up. Fix one leak and now the second weakest link gives up…

Not meaning to be a Monday morning QB but you would have gotten 900 bucks for it even without fixing anything. It’s a wholesale unit only.

Had an old car once with drum brakes on both axles. A mechanic replaced the master cylinder. Lost the front brakes soon thereafter getting off the interstate, luckily was able to get her stopped. The only place around was a combo repair shop and junkyard. It was a failed wheel cylinder. It was replaced to get me back on the road.
They said that the old cylinders couldn’t take the pressure from a new master cylinder, and that I should replace the other cylinders before they too fail.

Also said I should get new cylinders for n the other wheels. Didn’t bother to do, of course, the other front soon failed, at which time I replaced the remaining 3 wheels.

Old cars, gotta love them

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It’s pretty common in my diy’er experience to fix one leak and discover there’s another. And another. That sort of thing goes w/the territory when you own older vehicles. I just fix them one at a time until they are all fixed.