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Misleading over the phone quote for a vehicle repair

I took my 2003 Honda Civic into the dealership for a radiator leak this morning. They called this afternoon to tell me I needed some bodywork repairs made to the car before they would be able to replace my radiator and compressor. The gentleman tells me he can take my car over to the dealerships collision repair center next door and get me a quote for that. He calls back later with their quote. Over the phone he quotes me $1774.09 and that quote is for replacing the core support for the radiator, replacing the radiator, replacing the compressor, draining and refilling the coolant and the hazardous waste disposal fee. I told him I wanted to pick my car up and get a second opinion. When I got my car back and looked at the actual printed quote from the collision repair center the quote was for $1774.09 and included replacing the lower tie bar, replacing the shield auto trans, replacing the bumper cover, replacing the RT fender liner, R&I mud guard, replacing the radiator, replacing the A/M condenser, replace antifreeze, car cover, hazardous waste disposal and replace restore corrosion. I feel the gentleman was misleading over the phone by not stating the cosmetic repairs that were included in the quote total. I’m guessing the gentleman was hoping I would just give them the okay to proceed with repairs over the phone and not realize the cosmetic work being done until the repairs were finished and I was picking my car up. My math has just over $540 of that quote being unnecessary for my radiator to work properly.
Do I write the dealership and let them know that I feel I was mislead over the phone?

Oh, I don’t know that the quote was misleading, at least not purposefully. I assume the radiator support needs to be replaced because it’s damaged or malformed in some way that it contributed to radiator failure or makes it impossible to install a new radiator properly with a warranty.

I don’t know how your car is put together, but it’s quite possible that things like the bumper cover, fender liners, splash guards, etc need to be removed to replace the radiator support. So the body shop would have included replacement of those items. They’re not going to put damaged parts back on the car. Maybe they would if specifically asked.

I know there are tons of horror stories out there about unneeded repairs being performed, but the other side of the coin is that there are many shops that are only interested in doing a complete, quality, professional job properly the first time around, and the price is the price whatever it may be.

+1 - ask the shop for more explanation of whatever you don’t understand. If they don’t have to remove certain items to get the main job done, find out what it costs for those items alone and decide what work you actually want done. Don’t approach it defensively. Just ask for a better explanation. I did that over the phone a few months ago with my daughter’s car, and the guy I dealt with told her how much he liked me when she picked the car up.

Yeah, I think they’re not going to want to send a car out with the bumper hanging half off. I think maybe its also that there was a third party involved and not you dealing directly and maybe just some short cuts taken on the description. It really sounds like a good deal though. I had my radiator and splash shields that had to be replaced and cost $700 alone with no body work.

I agree…the repair was done and IMO, both the quote and the job was reasonable. You paid no more and it’s often difficult once you get ino a job. You came out much better then I have been treated in the past.

Sounds To Me Like The Lower Tie Bar Needed Replacement And That Fact Was Keeping The Radiator And Compressor Work From Progressing (The A/C Condenser And Radiator Have To Sit Squarely On It And Be Mounted Correctly).

My guess is that body damage from a collision damaged the tie bar. Many lower tie bars/lower radiator supports do not simply bolt in and many/most must have these “cosmetic” pieces removed in order to gain access and do the job. Afterward, they need to be put back in order for the car to be safe for the road and if they were damaged then there’s a chance they wouldn’t even go back into place after the tie bar was replaced without being renewed.

I’ll bet that instead of calling, had you gone to the dealer, the body shop person and service person would have shown you, right on your car, what was being considered and why. This is very difficult to accomplish over the phone.

Missing information:
Was there body damage and had you ever bothered to get an estimate for repairs prior to this ?
Was this also the cause of the radiator leak ?


Sure the OP can call and complain at will. As I see it there isn’t any cosmetic repairs, there is nothing for paint for instance. The splash shields and guards might be more necessary in Wisconsin (where there is road slush and corrosive materials spread on winter roads) than California. It is easy not to get all the information straight in a phone conversation.

The OP should just discuss the info on the estimate and determine the “why” behind the items listed. Keep some eliminate others based on the info and move on the next important topic of his or her day.

Would an upscale dealership want to deliver a car that has been patched up with a mat black primed front end?

Often, customers who demand the shop only do the necessary repairs become indignant when they are facing the results and suddenly expect that the job be completed at no additional cost.

Dealing with a private shop might cut down on confusion.