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Overheating/No AC etc

So I’ve been having some issues with my 2012 Chevy Orlando recently, and decided to notate the issues in point form. I’m pretty cash strapped right now, so I’m hesitant to take the car in without having a more firm idea of what the problem is. I don’t want to get into a situation where they’re replacing things in a ‘trial and error’ method. If anyone has any solid ideas here, that would be great.

• Car occasionally idling rough. Feels like a lurch or a hitch while idling – possibly when the AC compressor kicked in. RPM’s would raise slightly and drop when this happened.
• Noticed AC was not blowing cool air after a long drive. This corrected itself same day.

• Had oil changed and levels topped up at a drive through oil change place. Crossed my mind that they may have used the wrong type/inferior oil/wrong coolant top up?
• Noticed a wet passenger’s side floor, front. Concerned about a heater core leak. Patted with a white napkin. Colorless, odorless. Appears to be water/condensation. After some research, thought this might be due to a clogged AC drain. This problem persisted on long drives with the AC at max. Carpet remained dry on short trips, or with the AC turned off.
Last Week
• Caught in a downpour – ran through some deep puddles – concerned for electrical components
• An hour or so later: AC starts blowing hot air
• Idling at drive through – engine overheats – turn heat and fan up to disperse excess heat

  •   Dispersed heat and noticed rad fan not running. Check again when I got home and it was running, but seemed 

• Squealing sound, like a loose belt, when pulling away
• Notice a correlation between overheating and the AC being turned on
• Coolant levels appear fine in surge/overflow tank
• Driving with AC off until I am able to get the car looked at (AC no longer blows cold air at all)

This week
• Car overheated at long idle with AC turned off
• Turned up heat/fan to disperse heat

Sounds like the electric fans have died. Check the fuses and fan relays. There is likely 2 fans, one for normal cooling and another that is on when the AC is on. Sound like neither is working. If the AC is not on, the compressor may be commanded not to turn on.

As for the mechanic wasting your money in trial and error… A little advice,

Don’t go to the chain stores because you think they are cheaper. Look for a good independent shop.

Don’t walk in and tell him what’s wrong and what to replace. Sure fire way to spend money for no reason.

Let him diagnose the problem and be prepared to pay him for his time. It will be cheaper in the long run.


It looks to me like you might have multiple issues. The water on the floor could be from a clogged or bent air conditioner drain tube, and the squealing belt is likely loose.

As far as the rest goes, taking it to a qualified automotive diagnostician shouldn’t mean throwing parts at the problem. I suggest you find someone who is willing to refund money spent that doesn’t solve the problem. If a mechanic balks at this idea, he isn’t the right one for this kind of problem. You might be asked to compromise though, and that’s okay. For example, when replacing a Schrader valve on my air conditioner didn’t fix my problem, I was refunded the labor and the cost of refrigerant before I gave them a chance at a second attempt. There is nothing wrong with holding a shop accountable for a misdiagnosis before letting them try again.

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Thanks for the reply. This is always the crunch, isn’t it? What’s cheaper in the long run is often not feasible in the here and now. Even though I know this is true, saving several hundred dollars at a chain and getting my car back on the road now is generally more attractive than leaving it in the driveway for two months while I try to save the money for the repair at a locally owned shop. (For instance, I had a wheel bearing replaced at Canadian Tire, no charge for diagnosing the issue, $260 - local shops were quoting more than $600). Lots of gouging under the guise of quality.

I also have a hard time trusting mechanics of any ilk, as I’ve never had a good experience with a garage, big chain or not. There is always a misquoted price, or a wrong part ordered, or a three day wait, or charges for parts they broke while doing the work. I suppose there are honest, trustworthy and capable shops, I just haven’t found one yet.

I also wasn’t really hoping to walk in and tell them exactly what’s wrong and what to replace, but to provide accurate data to them that would make their diagnosis quicker and more accurate. I’ve seen way too many instances where they plug in a diagnostics computer, replace parts based on that, and it still turns out not to be the problem.

I think I should just get myself a nice bicycle.

@Whitey, I agree. I think there may be multiple issues here. I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around the coincidence of these things, and trying to mentally separate all of the symptoms.

I wasn’t even aware that you could find a shop that would refund for a misdiagnosis! Is this a rarity? I appreciate that insight, and I think I will make sure to pose this question before committing to a shop.

The shop I spoke of in my example was a Goodyear company-owned shop (as opposed to a franchise). Whether you go with a national chain or an independent mechanic, you’re going to find all kinds of people of varying levels of integrity, but you should also consider that, with this many issues, they might legitimately fix one issue, but not solve another.

In my experience, it’s not that common, but I don’t hesitate to question when something seems out of place. I’ve had a Goodyear mechanic tell me I needed struts when I didn’t need them, and the same shop tried to get me to pay for a clutch job they botched and had to redo, but when I asked “Shouldn’t that be covered under warranty?” when I was checking out, they had no other recourse than to pay for the replacement clutch themselves.

The struts story is kind of funny. The mechanic calls me and recommends I replace the struts. I reply, “Okay, that’s cool. They’re Monroe struts and they came with a lifetime warranty on parts, so just give me a quote on the labor.” Then he backtracks and says, “Oh, they don’t really need to be replaced, I just recommended it because I thought they were the original struts.” At that point, I knew I was dealing with someone who was trying to pad the bill, and I told him not to lay another finger on my car.

Please name one shop that does refund money for a miss-diagnosis.

I have worked for service managers that frequently gave refunds to dissatisfied customers but to plan in advance to misdiagnose a problem? Sounds like the wrong customer just walked in.

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@Nevada_545 I’m not sure what you mean by that. Are you implying that a customer who asks a shop about their refund policy for a misdiagnosis ‘deserves what’s coming to them’?

Or are you saying that you interpreted this conversation to mean that I’m expecting a shop to intentionally misdiagnose something?

Honestly I’m not so worried about a crooked shop trying to take me for a ride (although I’m sure there are very crooked shops out there). I’m actually more concerned about incompetence/lack of experience leading to replacing more parts and paying for more time than is actually necessary. But it would be nice to know that a shop stands behind their work and their ability to accurately diagnose a problem the first time.

Or it could mean the customer anticipates the problem being one that is difficult to diagnose, and wants to know your policy up front.

Other than the company-owned Goodyear shop that I mentioned above? My motorcycle mechanic’s policy is to issue a credit on future repairs that solve the problem after the first attempt does not.

I’ve also received refunds for diagnostic fees from two Honda dealerships in Jacksonville, FL when they both misdiagnosed a problem with my Civic. (I didn’t let them do the repairs because I questioned their diagnoses.) After a third mechanic finally found and solved the problem, I wrote letters to the two Honda dealerships’ service managers, and they both mailed me checks to refund the diagnostic fees.

Sulllivan Tire in Seabrook NH.
They do all kinds of work in addition to selling tires.
I went there once because I was in a bind- wrote about it here afterward.
Had a bad wheel bearing, wasn’t sure which one but had an idea based on conventional wisdom.
They diagnosed the opposite side as the problem. I was skeptical.
I questioned how they arrived at it and they explained they used chassis ears (i now own a set) and were sure of it. I asked what they would do if their assessment turned out to be wrong and they said without hesitation- then we will not charge you for any of it.

They also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to disassemble due to extreme rust. They bought an ABS sensor in case they broke it. Managed to get it all apart without damaging the sensor. Never charged me one dime more than the original estimate and returned the unused sensor.

It’s very rare but you can bet where I go when I’m in a pinch…

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Suggest to focus on the overheating problem first, when it overheats when the AC has been turned completely off. Once that’s fixed, then you can work on the AC problem. For the overheating with AC off, here’s what to ask you shop

  • Are the radiator fans turning on when they should, and turning as fast as they should?
  • If the coolant hasn’t been replaced in 2 years, do that, and replace the thermostat at the same time. Use the exact coolant Chevy recommends.
  • Follow the shop manual procedure to bleed the air from the cooling system and make sure it’s at the proper level.
  • Test the cap that controls the pressure of the cooling system.
  • Make sure the front of the radiator isn’t clogged up with bugs and debris.
  • If it still overheats after all that, do a coolant system pressure test.

As far as which shop to use, I think you’d get best results using the same inde shop for most of your work. That way they’ll maintain a file on your car and know what has been done and what hasn’t whenever you bring it in. And you can schedule a yearly general inspection too, part of which is where they look for any signs of upcoming problems that need immediate attention. The best way to find an inde shop is to ask friends co-workers etc who they use, then choose from that list a shop that specializes on Chevy’s or at least American branded cars. Tell the shop owner which customer of their recommended them to you. That gives you a little leverage.

This might not be the least expensive method to repair your car. But sometimes the least expensive way turns out to be the most expensive way later. And the above method minimizes the chance of that happening. On a 5 year old vehicle, suggest to budget about $75 per month for routine maintenance and repair.

No, what I meant is that it doesn’t sound flattering when when a customer is planning on a misdiagnoses from me.

The general practice is to continue diagnosing the problem until it is resolved. There are exceptions where a customer would like to try a second shop but it isn’t common.

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Asking for your policy doesn’t necessarily indicate the customer is planning anything, and your willingness to jump to such a conclusion based on a basic question about your policy indicates you might have a chip on your shoulder. I don’t ask questions about policy, or not, to flatter anyone.

At most of the shops I’ve worked with, they only charge me a diagnostic fee if they don’t do the repair work. That usually makes this policy moot, especially when the repair they recommended fixes the problem. It’s only when a customer pays for a repair that doesn’t fix the problem that this would ever be an issue, and I’m sure you’re such a consummate professional that, in such a circumstance, you’d want to make it right rather than ask a customer to pay for a repair that didn’t fix the problem.


We’ve talked about this countless times, and will do so again

I believe Nevada may be talking about customers who from the outset are up to no good, possibly/probably intending to get labor and/or parts which they are not entitled to

I’ve seen this many times, and I’m sure most of the other professional mechanics on this website also have

Sometimes when talking to a customer at the very beginning, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, sometimes based on what they’re saying, sometimes based on other more subtle things, such as body language. Very often, I would tell the service advisor “I have a bad feeling about this, and I don’t think it’s going to turn out well.” And then the customer proves I was right, I did everything correctly, and he gets something for free. Just because he acted like a ____ and the service director threw him a bone, just to get him out of there, hopefully never to return.

I have even observed and heard customers on the phone . . . when they thought nobody was listening . . . telling the person on the other end that they’re going to screw over the dealership and get such and such for free, when they make a scene on the service drive. They were smirking when they were carrying on this conversation. Then I would go to my service advisor, briefly tell him what I saw and heard, and tell him to “protect himself”

Most customers are not like this, but those are unfortunately the ones you remember