Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Mechanic reliability

I have a 2006 Dodge Caravan that started experiencing engine whining and some leaking.

I went to my local mechanic thinking it was the water pump and told them as such. They dutifully replaced the water pump but that didn’t stop the whining.

I took it back after Sandy and Athena and they now say the steering rack needed to be replaced and was leaking badly as well.

My question is, shouldn’t they have seen this before they changed the water pump and let me know that it isn’t the pump but the rack? Or, were they just being unethical and fleecing me the $500 for the water pump in addition to the $850 they’re asking to replace the rack?

Mark E.
Metuchen, NJ

If you asked them to diagnose the problem and they replaced the water pump AND it wasn’t actually bad, they’re guilty of at least poor diagnosis, not necessarily fleecing.

If you asked them to change the water pump and they changed the water pump and THEN you brought it back and asked htem to diagnose it and it turned out that the rack was leaking, than you fleeced yourself.

But I never heard a rack whine. A power steering pump, definitely, and then only when turning, but not a rack. Allow me to suggest that you frequent another shop.

Your second statement is accurate, I asked them to change the water pump thinking that’s what it was. So I fleeced myself on that one.

But the sound was definitely whining and coming from the upper right side near the steering column (facing the front of the car). When I brought it back I told them I thought it was the power steering pump or return hose and they said it steering rack definitely. So I think I got fleeced by them as well.

Looks like I’ll be looking for a another shop…


Get a automotive stethoscope* and probe around. Noise travels and is hard to pinpoint with an engine running.
Then, if you go to a mechanic, never tell them what you think is wrong or ask them to replace X unless you’re positive it is X that needs replacing.
If they say it needs something totally unrelated, ask why they say that because you heard the noise elsewhere.

Any FLAP, Sears Harware or harborfreight has 'm.

I tip my hat to your honesty.
Sincere best.

It’s possible this isn’t a problem with your shop. You asked them to change the water pump, and they did. In trying to figure out what’s causing the noise subsequent to the water pump change, they apparently found a leaking steering rack. That needed to be fixed in any event. And if it was leaking, and the fluid got low enough, it could easily cause the power steering pump to squeal. If a problem can be caused by several things, and it isn’t possible to determine which, alhtough inelegant, sometimes the cheapest sol’n is to simply start replacing them one by one. Either that or live with the noise until something fails completely. The prices they are quoting for the work done aren’t unreasonable.

If you decide to find a new shop, the best way to do it is ask friends, relatives, coworkers, etc for a recommendation. Don’t use the yellow pages, etc to find auto shops. You need a recommendation from somebody you know who has used the shop. Then tell the shop owner who it was that recommended them to you. That way you have some leverage, as if they don’t do a good job for you, they’ll loose the other customer too probably.

Agree with Remco…you can probably find a stethoscope at any parts store too, I got mine at Autozone. I’ll take the middle ground about telling a shop what you want replaced…nothing wrong with saying you are noticing a certain problem and wonder if it’s xyz…I think it’s good to be involved as much as possible in the diagnosis since you’ve experienced the various symptoms and noticed any changes in the car. Working together will increase the chances of getting an accurate diagnosis. When the mechanic reaches a conclusion, make sure you get the reason for that choice, which in some cases can be visual sign you can actually see or other tangible evidence.