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Negotiating with mechanic after repair problems

I took my VW "73 SuperBeetle to a mechanic I’d used before for an engine knock problem that I’d been told required a new engine. This mechanic thought he could fix the problem with an additive, and, if that didn’t work, by recoring the engine. It would be a “longblock” engine. When he returned the car to me the engine had a constant gas leak and on inspection, it all looked like the same old parts that I had been looking at before the work was done. The engine block had grease and oil and carbon on it, like an old engine.

He has now admitted that he had an old Beetle engine with 50,000 miles on it which he moved into my bug. The car no longer has the knock.

I paid $3300.00 for the work and feel ripped off. He added in costs for a clutch kit and a carborator.

  1. Did I overpay?
  2. If so, by how much?
  3. How should I proceed? Do I have any recourse?

I’m confused. Does the engine still have a gas leak? What else is wrong with the replacement engine? How many miles were on the original engine?

You didn’t approve the engine swap? Would you have approved the engine swap if he had given you the chance? He’s supposed to come to you and ask if you want him to do something that’s not on the original estimate.

Answer all that stuff before we give you solid answers to your questions.

An old Beetle engine with only 50k miles on it? Doubtful, and how would you, or even he, know? Because the guy he got it from said so? So, really, the condition of this engine is totally unknown…at least to you.

I don’t know what he meant by “recoring” the engine. Is that the term he used?

Did you understand that the “long block”, which means crankcase, cylinders, and heads, would be NEW, or did he just say he’d put ANOTHER long block into it. If he promised a new or newly rebuilt engine, he did indeed do something unscrupulous if not down right illegal. $3300 for a 50K mile VW engine is highway robbery.

The air shrouds on the outside of your old engine could have been re-used on the second engine, whether or not it was newly rebuilt. Those are the parts you can see.

If I remember right, pulling bug engines if fairly easy. In fact when I had the generator replaced in my 59, they said it required pulling the engine to get to it. I think my bill was $50 for that.

I agree. $3300 for a used VW engine is highway robbery. I used to own one of these, a '71. You could pull the engine with a floor jack and a good ratchet set. I know, because I did it twice. I just checked a source, and a remanufactured long block, 1600 cc, from can be had for $995.00. And it can be swapped out in less than a day.

Used VW motors complete that run should cost no more than $500 and no more than 6 hrs labor to swap it out. When I played VW’s, I could swap one in about 1 hr. Add a 1/2 hr if I changed the stater bushing.

Recoring might be line boring, something commonly done to ACVW engines that have beat out bearings. You basically replace all the bearings with oversized ones.
3K is really expensive for a beat engine, I think. You can get a dual port long block 1600 CC for about $1500 - that’s a new shiny engine with no miles.
A 73 still has a carb so that’s easy. The engine swaps in an hour and that’s if you’ve never done it before.

If you didn’t authorize the work, you should not have to pay.

Tell me: was the guy’s first name Mario? There’s this guy in the ACVW world that’s famous for ripping people off like that.
There’s a forum dedicated to ACVWs with a sub-forum where you can vent your frustrations with vendors:

Btw, if you do have a gas leak, don’t drive it. Aicooled VW engines are made of magnesium. An engine fire can get to a point where you can’t put it out, totally wrecking your bug.

@RemcoW Magnesium? I thought the crankcases and heads were aluminum. I learned something new today.

The price is way, way high for this even including the clutch kit and carburetor. This extreme price and he hands it back to you with a gas leak? No way this should happen.

Now the sticky parts of this.
If you authorized the repair you may have no recourse at all.

You use the words “recore” and “longblock”. Techncially the mechanic could say your engine was recored and it did indeed get another longblock. This could also mean no recourse but much depends on what was written down on the repair order and what you can prove as to how any conversation went.

My personal opinion based on the way it’s related here is that you were stiffed big time. Sorting it out legally might be another matter though.

Just for giggles, could you break the bill down a bit? I’m curious about how much labor he charged and so on.

@MGMcAnick, Yup - magnesium. You can get aftermarket aluminum cases, though.

I’d be very curious to see that bill as well. Also very curious whether this was indeed Mario G or done at a particular ACVW shop in NC.
He used to do this very often, especially to women. He’d run the bills up so high that he would try to snatch the car with a mechanic’s lien. It got to the point where the ACVW community basically put him out of business by getting the word out. It takes a lot to get people in one internet group that upset with one person so it got really ugly but was 100% necessary. As far as we know, he’s no longer in the Aircooled business but he tried to crop his head up from time to time.
Seriously, go to www.thesamba,com and see if there’s a record of your mechanic there.
For 3K you could probably get a nice new higher performing dual carb engine installed.

You were robbed. You were promised and paid for a remanufactured long block. What you got was a used engine that was lying around the shop or bought at a swap meet for $100. Hopefully the “long block” was itemized on the repair bill. Even if your “mechanic” argues a misunderstanding about just what constitutes a long block you can counter with what you should expect for what you paid. Google VW long block and you will get a lot of information about the cost and quality for rebuilt VW engines.

This is one of many. It gives a good description of what goes into a remanufactured long block and what you might expect to pay.