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Mechanic taking too long? Is it normal?

Hi there fellas…

I left my car on a shop for an engine replacement on 4/28/16. I made a call a week later to check on the progress of the repairs. He said he would start working on the car starting on Saturday and that it will be ready in a couple of days.

I made a call again on 5/11/16 to check again and this time he says that he has already started working on the car but says he needs a couple more days to finish and that it will be ready on Saturday. Well, he calls my wife today to let her know that he can’t have the car fixed for the day he promised, and that we shouldn’t worry because he can deliver the car to our house (I am leaving to NY in a couple of days).

Now, here is the thing… Yes, we feel it has been taking too long but at the same time I don’t want my mechanic to do a crappy job on my car, because I understand that my car is not the only vehicle he has to fix on the shop. His shop is also pretty small… My wife though is ticked off because she needs the car ASAP, as she works for an insurance company and is mandatory to have a vehicle.

I thought it was a good idea to come here and ask ya’ll for opinions since I am going to the shop tomorrow. Do you guys think I should be patient and keep waiting or should I tow the car out of the shop and have the repairs completed somewhere else? I already paid for the engine and the “extra parts”.

Well just my opinion but if you like the guy and he does OK, give him a little leeway and maybe just rent a car that the wife would like. I had a guy take 7 weeks for a transmission overhaul once. I stopped by every other day and I knew I was getting messed over but it was all apart so he had me. Another transmission I had the same day. Had it towed in the morning and picked it up after work. An engine at the dealer took a week but most of the time was waiting for GM to deliver the engine. You just have to ask yourself when it will not be a problem-a couple days, a week? When a car drops, its an emergency and if its a small shop I’m sure others are squeezing his head in a vice.

Running into snags and requiring extra time is not a rare thing at all. Even a couple of weeks on something like this can be perfectly reasonable.

There are several things about this that bother me though. One is the litany of excuses. If he runs into a delay then he should call you promptly and not only tell you there’s a delay but he should also clearly spell out any reasons for the delay.

My suggestion is to go to the shop in person and eyeball what’s going on. Be firmly polite at this point and my feeling is that you should not go along with this bit about dropping the car off.
There’s a potential for problems with something like this. What if the engine knocks, smokes, or refuses to start? He could then claim it was fine when he dumped it off which could then lead to some real nasty problems…

Just curious and trying to get a handle on this but what type of car is involved and is this a used engine that is being installed?

The engine on my Lancer 03 overheated and died which is why I left the car there. I paid him for an used engine because I couldn’t afford for a reman engine. It took about 2 or 3 days for LKQ to deliver the engine to his shop. He then he asked for an extra $1000 bucks for extra parts and whatever the car needed. He promised it wouldn’t take long to do the swap, but then he just keeps making up excuses.

I am fine if he needs the extra time, I have no problem with that. I just don’t like it when he says he can have the car fixed, say tomorrow and then surprise us with something like “I haven’t had a chance to start working on the car yet”. I don’t think anyone will be pleased to hear that. If he needs time I rather have him say It will take a month.

I would just go and have a look tomorrow. I am seriously thinking on towing the car away if nothing has been done on the vehicle.

I can understand the need for additional money as there are various things needed for the installation of any engine; new or used.
That would include coolant, oil, oil filter, timing belt kit, and in my opinion a new rear main seal for the engine and torque converter seal for the transmission. One does not want to install a used engine and have a 10 dollar seal leak which would necessitate pulling the engine again.

There are a couple of things about this that also make me a bit antsy. It’s difficult to see how he’s coming up with a 1000 dollars for those add-ons I mentioned.
The other point is that he should not be springing this on you AFTER the fact. You should have been told this up front before the engine was even ordered.

Sorry I can’t be a little more optimistic but there’s some things here that don’t quite smell right.
For what it’s worth anyway, I’m a mechanic having worked for both new car dealers and my own shop and I would never consider handling an engine swap in the manner it’s being done.

Yeah I felt this was odd, he should’ve told me he needed more money for parts before hand. My previous mechanics would’ve the parts ordered before I even get to the shop and he never asked me to pay anything until he was done with the work.

I may be the lucky one bu whenever I drop a car off for work, I ask when will it be ready and what will it cost. Sure I thought $800 was pretty steep to replace rusted out power steering lines, but asked how long they would need it, 1 day they said, and one day it was. Not to disrespect the mechanics or you, but the time of repairs is a question that should be understood from day 1. In for a buck in for a pound, stuff happens, if he is worth his salt let him finish the job, no other mechanic would probably want to deal with a halfway finished job anyway. Let the good times roll, Hope all works out well.

Make sure you get an itemized bill for the work including parts and labor. That way you will know where the extra $1000 went, as well as all the other expenses. You might tell him now that you expect an itemized bill for these expensive repairs.

I had a similar repair where valve burned and engine removal was required. Promised in 3 weeks since he could not start for two. However turned in 5 week repair.

I spent $2800 on this and pleathera of maintenance done while there. The dealer was 1.5 days however needed near $6800 since they were simply replacing major parts instead of repairing.

I’d expect a job like that to take from one to three weeks, once they get all the parts in. One week if the tech doing the job has done it before, three if not. So figure two weeks to get the parts, that’s 5 weeks total max from the time you took the car to the shop and made the first payment for the engine. Given that, and it’s only been two to three weeks, I think you should allow him until the end of the first week in June before offering up any strenuous complaints or taking the car to a different shop.

I do agree w/you that the shop should have given you some guidance on the time frame to expect. They seem to be giving you only optimistic estimates, and not their worse case estimates. Me, I wouldn’t appreciate that. But some customers might prefer the best case estimates, who knows what people want?

hmmm … well, there’s another side of the coin, the shops side, we are only hearing your side now. If the shop suggested to do the job a certain way but the price to do it that way was not meeting your budget expectations, so they did it a different way for cheaper, then the onus of the delay might be on you. It would depend on exactly what has transpired between you and the shop and the written contract wording.

I’ve never had this job done for me, but if I did, I’d be looking for a total invoice, including parts and labor, and a certain “finished by” date agreed to, before allowing them to start. For that I’d be willing to pay a premium. If things continue to stall, suggest to go to that as a back-up. Offer to pay a premium to get it done faster.

Things do happen on these kinds of jobs… But…when you promise a job to be done it needs to be done. Lets say it didn’t go as smooth as it could have…OK…so an additional day or two to stay on top of this issue or install and it should then be completed.

Your mechanic delayed the start of this job considerably…and then made a new date…then broke that date. Methinks he is doing quicker easier more profitable work in the meantime so as not to be stuck on a time suck of a job…

One other thing that I am sure you aren’t thinking about is…when you get this vehicle back from this massive job… You will want to drive it locally for a day or two to be sure it is all A-OK… Make sure the coolant system is holding, no leaks, oil or otherwise…many things need to be sorted in the follow up of this job.

You do NOT want to get the car back and hit the highway for a cross country trip immediately.

Hard to advise you on this one…as I think he is so deep now that you cant really do anything anyway.


This sounds like what I am going through. My car has been at the shop since July 5. It’s Aug. 14 now. It’s having a new headgasket and head installed. Week one: We can’t get to it this week. Week 2: The Mechanic is sick. Week 3: the machine shop got flooded (we had flooding, so it’s plausible). Week 4: We just got the car head in. Week 5. It’s 5 p.m. and we don’t have spark plugs and wires so that has to wait till Monday. Now it’s week 6: There is a valve collapsed and we had to order it. Yes, I have gone for a month and a half now with no car. It would have been faster to have the engine rebuilt from the bottom up somewhere else,.at this rate. So how long should this repair have taken, anyway? I hope I get it back before the tires dry rot. Oh, and I was initially supposed to have it back by July 15.

The repair should have taken anywhere from 1 to 5 days, depending. When you change the head gasket you want to get the head machined. If the machine shop is right next door and not busy, then the mechanic can get it done that day. If it has to be shipped across town and the machine shop is backed up, it can take longer.

The plugs and wires thing is BS. They knew it needed that before they took the head off. They should have had those parts in and ready to go by the time the head got in.

I do understand that sometimes you get into the project and then you find more things that have to be done and you have to wait around for the parts, so I could give them an extra day or two if that happened.

I can even understand an extra week delay based on the natural disaster, but over a month is insane. I’d be demanding a free loaner from them if I didn’t already have one.

One thing you didn’t quite make clear - are you getting a brand new head, or are they machining your old one? Because if you’re getting a brand new head, I do not understand why the machine shop flooding would have any bearing on your repair time. The new head should not need to be machined unless it is defective.

I had head gaskets done in a week on my diesel. That included time at the machine shop. It didn’t matter that it took a week since we were on vacation anyway and that included putting it in my garage for me.

Too often people in the trades will take in a job and use it as a “filler”. That ties up the job. Then they keep stopping to do simple jobs to keep the cash coming in and not turning away customers. Meanwhile you get the short shrift treatment on service. I once took my F-150 to a dealer for a rear axle seal repair still under warranty. I had to get a rental because it was my only vehicle. I called the service tech the next day and left a message to call me. Then I call the day after that and left another message to call me. The third day I happened to be in town so I stopped by the dealer. I was told they hadn’t started work on my vehicle yet. I told the service tech to give me my keys. I told him there was no excuse for him not returning my calls and that seemed to shake him and the only time he seemed interested in my problem. I drove to another dealer in the next town and they had the vehicle fixed the next day. We should not put up with lousy service.

At some dealers, the mechanic is actually prohibited from speaking directly on the phone with the customers. That’s the service writer’s job. It could well be that the mechanic told his service advisor that you would like to be contacted, and the service writer may have neglected to do his duties. Also, it’s quite possible the mechanic was instructed to do all those other jobs before starting work on yours. It’s not always so clear cut, who to point the finger at

My mistake, It was the service writer I was communicating with. I can take waiting my turn in line but I wanted to hear from the service writer how long the line was. There was no excuse for him to not take 2 minutes and return my calls. To follow up I later got a call from a customer relations lady asking how I found their service. I then asked her if she had any power and she said she reported directly to the owner. So I told her how i felt about being ignored. We negotiated that the company would pay half of my rental car fee. I soon got a check in the mail. So the company was OK but they had a service writer on staff that should not be dealing with customers.

Yup, the service writer did NOT provide good service

Lack of communication on his part made for a bad experience

I appreciate a shop that will give me an honest time estimate and schedules the appointment so the shop knows it has a reasonable chance of completing the job on time.
I had an experience last Monday with our local Toyota dealership. The air conditioner would cut in and out on our 4Runner. I had called on Thursday the week before and the soonest they could get the car in was Monday. I also asked them to schedule our Sienna for a brake job. I said I would swap vehicles with them. I picked the 4Runner up at 1:00 p. m. and dropped off the Sienna. I was told that the Sienna would be ready the next day at noon. At 5:30 I got a call that the Sienna was ready–the mechanic stayed overtime to finish the job. If I would come within the next half hour, I could pick up the car. This was great because it was convenient to have both vehicles the next morning.
When we picked up our Sienna, a 2011 with 92,000 miles, we took a side trip through the showroom. I asked about whether the 2018 Siennas had arrived and was told no. However, I was told that there were big discounts on the 2017 Siennas. Mrs. Triedaq had discussed with our son about selling him our present 2011 Sienna. The price was so good on the 2017 that I bought one. Part of my decision was based on the good service I have had from this dealer. The other part of the decision is that our son’s Uplander has gone 200,000 miles and our granddaughter now has a beginner’s permit. For me, the service from a dealer is very important.


Same here, Fantastic service Department at my Ford dealership.