Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

My Wife Dodged A Bullet Getting Her Car Fixed

My wife recently had car trouble while shopping with a friend. As luck would have it…I was out of town for a couple of days and she was left at the mercy of a local shop. She called and told me what was going on so I told her to sign nothing. Several minutes later…the “mechanic” gave her a list of things that needed replacement (according to the infamous CEL). They wanted to replace the cat, a couple of O2 sensors and various other items including spark plug wires. When I heard that…I called a friend of mine and had the Vue towed home. The 3.6 engine in this vehicle has coil on plugs and no spark plug wires at all.

When I got home…I used my trusty little scanner and all that came up was a misfire in #5 cylinder. I tried replacing the spark plug but the same misfire kept coming back. I then installed a new coil on plug and that fixed the problem. I took my receipts and a copy of the original troubleshooting list to the shop and confronted the manager. My total out of pocket was $52. He said that his mechanic was just being thorough but I countered with something that can’t be repeated here. I have never liked the CEL system and I like it even less now. In the hands of an unscrupulous mechanic…the CEL system is just a license to steal.


Missilewoman is lucky to have you to take care of her.

1 Like

I just found an 08 vue xr with the 3.6. Needs new motor. They want $1k for vue. Maybe it needs a simple repair? They list 3.5,or 3.6 motor. What’s the difference? I did find some yards with avg mile, running motors for about $1k.

The 3.6 is the new generation engine. Same one in the Buick Enclave and Cadillac SRX. It’s a superior engine. Has no distributor or spark plug wires.

3.6 has timing chain? Funny how newer motors seem to fail in a big way. Older motors had simple failures.

1 Like

Yes, it has a timing chain.

Glad you got it taken care of.

Although there is no law in being an incompetent mechanic, I hate seeing this kind of stuff happen.

1 Like

How do you know the mechanic was incompetent? A friend used to work at a shop that routinely lied to their customers about needed work.

1 Like

Good to know. I abhor timing belts. There is no good reason for their existence in the automotive world.

August 6 |

Yes, it has a timing chain. Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond.
In Reply To

August 6 |

3.6 has timing chain? Funny how newer motors seem to fail in a big way. Older motors had simple failures. Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond. To unsubscribe from these emails, click here.

I hope you’re not one of those people who think that mechanics only began to cheat customers after the advent of OBD systems. I am close to entering my 7th decade, and I can recall unscrupulous mechanics who were cheating customers back when I was a child.

One of the more amusing examples that I can think of involves a woman who I used to know–and her '70s era Buick. She drove only about 1,500 miles per year, from Manhattan–where the car was garaged–to Long Island, where she occasionally visited a business owned by her father.

While she undoubtedly needed the once-per year oil changes that her “trusted” mechanic recommended, I seriously doubt if she needed to have her points, plugs, condenser, air filter, and fuel filter replaced once each year also. When I tried–gently–to point out that most of the work that her mechanic did annually was actually an act of thievery, she told me that she trusted him implicitly, and that “he wouldn’t recommend any work that the car doesn’t need”.

…and then there were the incredibly-expensive high-speed rated tires that he insisted she needed, despite the fact that she never in her life drove faster than 45 mph.

Or shops that had a “Special” on alignment and you are told you need new ball joints.

I too am long-in-the-tooth, and I agree with the premise of your statement. However, I believe CEL lights have made it much easier for the unscrupulous. They scare the vehicle’s owner, like a red flag, and leave them at the mercy of the mechanic. Owners see a CEL and think their car is about to collapse in the middle of the street. Besides that, CEL lights illuminate far too readily. EVAP systems have IMHO become the bane of mankind.

In summary, while there have always been unscrupulous mechanics, OBD systems have made it far, far easier for them to cheat people.

You’re right. That’s a fair question.

My first inclination was incompetence. It just as easily could have been nefarious.

Back in the '70s, a chain shop tried that scam on me.

First, your wife should be credited for keeping this from becoming a major problem.

Some spouses (M or F) would have driven the vehicle with the misfire and that would have created an even bigger problem than an incompetent or dishonest mechanic would.

I worked with a woman once who “carpooled” to work with her husband (know to be sometimes impatient and a bit of a hot head, otherwise a nice guy). They had a Chrysler minivan and one time in cold weather a rear wheel seized. He was ticked and drove it several miles to work without a single rotation.

It must be a love/hate relationship with CELs, eh? :wink:

I know what you’re saying about people going to a shop with a CEL illuminated and getting hosed, but people need oil changes, tires, etcetera, and go in and get hosed, too.

I love CELs. :heart_eyes_cat:
They have saved me many, many times from doing a bunch of unnecessary testing and diagnostic work and have really cut to the chase and very often get one in the ballpark. Try diagnosing SRS or ABS problems, without. :wink:

I have people say to me, “I can’t work on cars, anymore because they’re all electronic with computers and much too complicated now, not like the old days.” I disagree, thanks to the OBD system.


I feel that 99% of mechanics are honest folks. Its the bad apple in the bunch that gives the trade a bad reputation.

rascal24 is correct. The majority are tarnished by the minority.

In Missleman’s case there apparently was something nefarious going on or major league incompetence. The end result is the same; money spent needlessly.

1 Like

I agree with @OK4450, but not @rascal243. Your extremely accurate assessment is way off. My intent was not to say all mechanics are dishonest, just to point about that several are.

Maybe I do not recall correctly but your cel has been on forever?? now taking it to a shop they wanted to fix the cel, typical shop stuff, maybe they cleared the code and the cel will be back? Not minding cel if you do not have emission testing, more to the story?

All I will remind folks of is a couple things. If a car hasn’t been in a shop for a while, a mechanic may indeed come up with a long list of things that “could” be done to make it perfect again. No one has to do it though. The other thing is, some people whether older guys or gals, have no problem paying someone once a year to make sure the car is in top condition or back to new. So yeah 1500 mile tune ups are a little much but still once a year for peace of mind might be a small price to some. I once had an older lady customer that said she just put new tires on her Olds and she said “I can get in my car and drive to California anytime I want and don’t have to worry.” So you have to remember that not everyone wants to stretch their dollar and are willing to pay for peace of mind.