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Mechanic Ripped Me Off

OK, I’m not a mechanic: Two shops–one the dealership–told us the rack & pinion needed to be replaced to fix our power steering fluid leak (2001 VW Golf). A third shop tells us it’s the steering pump… a lot cheaper. We took the bait & now they’re telling us the rack & pinion needs replacing & that replacing the pump was part of the investigative process.

I feel cheated. Should I?

Not cheated but diagnosis was not as good. I think they should cut a break on profit portion of the PS pump replacement on part/labor if you perform the steering rack change.

Thanks Raj. That’s what my wife advocates for.

It sounds like the second shop throws parts at a problem instead of diagnosing the issue. You might try to find another shop for second opinions in the future.

The pump and the rack are two completely separate. They should have been able to tell where the leak was coming from. It’s like if you had a water leak and two guys said it was the toilet, and the last guy said it was the sink. They have the same fluid, and are in the same room. However it should be easy to tell which one is leaking. Your being taken.

"I feel cheated. Should I?"


I don’t sound flippant but I wouldn’t go back.
The ‘investigative process’ will help them determine whether you are willing to bleed more money.
A good diagnostician does not need to replace parts to figure out what’s actually wrong. If that was indeed the way to fix stuff, why don’t we load a shotgun with buckshot, aim it under the hood and replace the parts that got hit?

Thank you all for your comments. This third shop actually led me to believe that it was the first two that were trying to bleed me for money since the rack/pinion was more expensive than the pump. It seems clear (noting Gsragtop’s analogy) that the pump should have never been replaced. Obviously, I’m left w/out a choice but to pay. I’m going to note on the bill as well as the check that I disagree that the work should have ever been done (I don’t usually pay by check). I guess I’ll take this as “evidence,” along w/a certified mechanic’s statement, to my state’s consumer affairs department. What else can I do but fight it (I really feel like I got a cast put around my arm for a broken foot).

I have had a leaking rack and pinion on my truck, and I just kept putting in power steering stop leak (I used the Lucas brand) in and it has slowed to the point where I am not losing any anymore. If your leak isn’t that bad, the stop leak stuff is a lot cheaper than a new rack. It worked for me.

Thanks Psanzone. The stop-leak unfortunately didn’t work :frowning:

The car is 12 years old. Maybe there’s the possibility that both pump and rack were leaking.

You should feel cheated, but maybe they were just lousy mechanics.

It’d possible that they saw a leak at the pump and jus attributed the entire problem to that, diiscovering after the pump replacement that the rack was leaking too.
Is this excusable? No.
Is it dishonest? Not really.

I’ve seen so much poor work in my years that I’m inclined to want to verbally bash the shop, but the deed is doen, so I mightas well give them the benefit of the doubt. But I suppport you in not going back there.

I’ve seen many honest mechanics make simple mistakes that cost the customer money. They’re NOT trying to rip you off…they’re just not competent enough to give a proper diagnosis or repair the vehicle correctly in the first place.

If the mechanic is dishonest or if the mechanic is incompetent…either case the customer is getting the shaft. I know a couple of good honest mechanics. They’ve been in the business for 30+ years. They are extremely knowledgeable. Very honest. And if they do make a mistake (which is very rare)…they don’t pass that mistake to their customers. Problem with the not-so-competent mechanics…they’d go out of business if they did that.

Mechanic has given me a deal on the R/P such that, I actually come out ahead w/a new pump.

It helps to be informed so than you all once again for your insight.

I’d say you got very bad advice from the 3rd mechanic. The power steering pump is up high mounted on the motor, and the steering rack is way down underneath the car and runs parallel to the front axle. The location of the leak is important evidence. A power steering pump that goes bad gets noisy. If the power steering pump leaks the fluid has to travel all the way down a hose before showing up in a puddle under the car.

If the 3rd mechanic saw the leak (as the other 2 did) it should be obvious that the pump wasn’t leaking, rather the rack was leaking. That means mechanic #3 took advantage of your hope to save some $$$ and ends up getting more money out of you. I’d say that’s pretty low.

Our 2006 Grand Prix was diagnosed with a leaking rack and pinion. Repair/replace at the tire center wanted over a grand. A second diagnosis at a competing shop where my brother has been a certified mechanic for years replaced a front axle seal for $300. This was the solution. This saved on not doing wrong “fix”. No leaks.

That’s a pretty hefty price for an axle seal replacement. I’d do them all day long, day in and day out for 300 a pop.

This begs the question of why you did not go to your brother at the competing shop in the first place?