Question about Getting Money Back From Mechanic

I’m still suspicious that the regional guy is being lied to by the original mechanic. It’s a pretty startling coincidence to have a rear main seal go right after an oil change. It can happen, but… Coincidence. If I notice an oil leak immediately after an oil change I suspect they either spilled oil, double-gasketed the filter, or messed up the drainplug (crossthread, re-used the crush washer, forgot to torque it down, something like that).

I’m also suspicious because the mechanic should have known that aerosol glue or gasket sealer or hairspray or whatever he “sprayed” on the rear main seal was not going to fix the thing. That tells me he either didn’t know that, in which case I question his ability to diagnose a rear main seal leak in the first place, or he did know that and did it anyway in which case I question his sanity.

I’m thirdly suspicious because you say the car didn’t start dying until after the leak was already dropping giant oil puddles on the ground. That would mean the mechanic took the transmission off looking for the cause of a problem that hadn’t happened yet, and that makes no sense. There’s still something fishy in this story chain, and that would cause me to bring the car to a real mechanic for an inspection after their second guy gets done with it, just to make sure they didn’t hork something else up that might wreck your engine.

And like the others have said, never take your car to a chain like that again, though I suspect you’ve already internalized that lesson. :wink:


I’d offer a 3rd possibility as to why he sprayed some stuff on the seal. I think it might be possible that he was tired of me grumbling at him about car and hoped for a few days off that to get caught up on his other work??

Maybe kind of buying himself some time??

The whole thing makes me very nervous about ever seeing a mechanic again since I can’t seem to tell when one is lying to me. I really thought this guy seemed nice at first and was hard hard working so it never crossed my mind to question him when he said I needed all these things done.

That’s why you’ll need to spend some time on things like Yelp and Google to search for mechanics with good ratings. Check out the negative reviews, see if they’re the “I didn’t like the waiting area” or the “He messed up my car” type of issues.

Also check with friends, relatives, and coworkers. I found one from a recommendation of a coworker.

And I know of nothing that can be sprayed on a leaking seal to fix it, that’s a big red flag to me, along with the other dozen you’ve experienced.


I should probably clarify something there. I was being a bit sarcastic because I’m annoyed with this fool on your behalf. He did not spray anything on the rear main seal. I know this because you have to remove a bunch of stuff in order to access the rear main seal. Stuff like the transmission. You are not going to address a rear main seal leak by going through all the labor of removing the transmission and then lazily spraying something near the seal. You’re gonna replace the seal because it’s stupid to do all that work for nothing.

What concerns me a bit is that the regional guy appears to have bought the claim that he sprayed something on the rear main seal without asking him why the hell he disassembled all that stuff and then didn’t just replace it.

Plus, the crankshaft position sensor on every Honda I’ve ever encountered has been located on the opposite side of the engine from the rear main seal. On your car, it’s actually located close to the front main seal (and on older Hondas is often found inside the distributor).

So there’s absolutely no reason to take the transmission off if you’re trying to get at the crankshaft position sensor. That the regional guy appears to have bought that as well tells me the regional guy probably knows less about cars than my cat does. And that means training standards in general in his chain are terrible, which makes me worry what mechanic #2 is going to screw up. That’s why I suggested you get it to a real mechanic for a checkup after you get it back from these guys.


Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your sarcasm!

Latest update on my car is that I still don’t have it back.

If I understand everything correctly, the original mechanic caused an electrical problem which was the reason it was dying. A 2 fold problem.

It seems the clip that he was always trying to get me to come by and learn to reattach is electrical somehow? The clip has something to do with the crank sensor so when it comes apart the car dies. He said it wasn’t disconnected “properly but tugged apart and broke.”

Then there was a problem because one of the “grounds” had not been securely attached and so it caused some other stuff to short out.

And then there was some stuff that had “man made cuts that ensured a problem would crop up every couple days or more often when it rains”.

So new mechanic had to replace some wires and some little gray plastic box like things.

And he has to fix my hood latch because I couldn’t open my hood because the Original Mechanic had put a bolt in somewhere to hold it closed which is why I couldn’t get it open to check my oil.

So he said my car might be finished today.

This creepy learning experience never ends.


I hope you got all this information in writing. You are going to report this to the chain store management, I hope. You might also consider talking to a lawyer about this. The guy that did this is dangerous, and should be dealt with accordingly. I suggest talking to a lawyer because this could be either a criminal or civil suit. A good lawyer should hear the story and give you advice for little to no fee. I spoke to a lawyer about 30 years ago for a few minutes, and he never charged me. No ambulance chasers, a real attorney.

I’ve never encountered a good mechanic that wants to “clean” your engine. In the shops I have experienced that want to do that, I’ve seen people come out of there with smoking engines, oil and other leaks, stripped bolts etc. I will never go to another mechanic shop that does not have all ASC certified mechanics working there

Almost all oil that leaks from an engine migrates to the rear main seal area because it is the lowest point on the engine. Then it drips from there. A front main seal typically throws the oil away from the engine but you can see the oil on the firewall and the backside of the radiator, and under the hood. The oil is slung out by the front pulley so it goes out 90 degrees all around the engine from the pulley.

If the engine was completely cleaned, the leak can be found with some baby powder, dust the areas where the leak is suspected and the wet spots are where the leak is, or will point to the leak. There will be a trail.

I don’t see where the oil pressure sending unit was checked. The seal on top of these can crack and leak a lot of oil. If your engine has a distributor, then the distributor O-ring could be the cause of the leak. You would see oil under it and the heater hoses will be swollen and soft from the oil leaking on them. That is a pretty cheap fix.

Last trick to find the source of the leak is to put in a quart of transmission fluid when you are down a quart. After a you are down a half quart, use the baby powder again. It will turn red and you will have a red trail back to the leak. Change the oil right after you fix the leak.

I have to agree with Mustangman , returning to the same group of dolts is not going to solve the problem. As long as you can back up your claims of ineptitude , go post all of this on social media. As long as it’s truthful you won’t get sued for Libel .
Find a decent honest Mechanic , they do exist , but sometimes hard to find as people tend to be very protective of their time. Yes they want them to flourish, just not too well.

Contact the local BBB or City Attorney and ask them to investigate.

A botched rear main seal replacement for $900, time to move on, lesson learned. Who has time to go to battle with a sloppy mechanic?

12 visits for an oil leak, most people would have abandon that shop after 3 visits.

Referring the complaint to the BBB is a waste of time. If you don’t know why I made that statement, please let me know and I will explain–in detail.

Additionally, the City Attorney may not be able to help, and will likely recommend that the OP contact the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs.

The Division of Consumer Affairs is a governmental agency with both regulatory and punitive powers–unlike the BBB–which is not a governmental agency, and which lacks any actual authority.


There is one other alternative: the OP could gather all her receipts and file a claim in small claims court. There is typically a limit as to the amount you can sue for (I believe it’s somewhere between $1,500 and $5,000 in California) and typically you can’t use a lawyer (think Judge Judy, et al). That may be your best shot for recovery without going broke; her local courthouse will have information available regarding the process, costs and documents needed.

City attorney worked for me with just a phone call. On BBB, as a small business owner/operator, I had dealings with them, always resolved in my favor. You can go on line here and view complaints and resolutions against any business.

That is why it is nicknamed the Better FOR Business Bureau.
Years back, the Wall Street Journal published Smart Money magazine (now discontinued) and they featured an exhaustive study of the BBB. The last sentence in their very long article summarized their findings:
Few consumers are actually helped by the BBB.


I went back over this and another thought came to mind. IIRC the 2002 Civic engine has a timing belt instead of a timing chain. In this case the front crankshaft seal is behind the belt so it wont sling oil 90 degrees out from the front of the engine.

The front seal can loose a lot of oil, even reaching the point that it can empty the crankcase in minutes. Usually the oil seal is replaced on the second timing belt replacement. The timing belt should be changed every 7 years or 105k miles, whichever comes FIRST. If you have never had the timing belt changed, you don’t say you have, then you are probably way over due. But even if you aren’t overdue, if the front seal is leaking, the belt has to be changed after the seal is replaced.

This is about a $900 to $1000 job best done by a dealer. Many independents can’t seem to get the balance shafts lined up, although your engine may not even have the balance shafts. There are two more oil seals in the front, not counting the balance shaft seals (2). They run about $10 ea if done during a timing belt job. Also do the water pump, which is usually included in the price.

This chain store you are using should be the absolute last place to have this job done, and since it was not something they have previously touched, they will not do it for free, or even a discount.

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Report them to the BBB. I had to do it to my local shop. They put in a new rebuilt transmission and 5 days later the font excel was loose. I brought it back to them to have a look at it and they said the threads was striped on the axle. Of course they said they did not do it. so I went to get a second option and they said someone over tightened the nut. I had the write down what they found. They had to cut the axle off to get it out. You cant take the transmission out unless you take out the both drives shafts. If they where smart the could have saved a lot of money and just admit they did it.
Went to the BBB and filed a complaint. 2 days later I got a check on the mail from the BBB for the repair it costed me.

Small claims court. The judge will listen and make a decision. I don’t remember if there’s a fee. Wouldn’t be much anyway. Otherwise, send Big Julie down there to talk to the guy.

Without credentials, the first requirement is to give the original shop a chance to make it right, which you did. Now get it out of there and get it fixed at someplace that knows what they are doing. When it is fixed and you paid the bill and you know the cost and problem, then you can go back and try and recover your money.

First you can submit the claim to the shop, but good luck.
Second you can submit it to your state AG’s office of consumer affairs, but good luck again. They just usually will send your letter to the shop and ask for their side.
Third you can contest it with you credit card if you paid by card. Again these folks know nothing about cars so good luck again.
Finally you can go to small claims and explain the difference in what was done and what the actual problem and cost is. If you get a knowledgeable judge, you might win-then have to collect.

I’ve done all three, and really what has been the best option is to swallow the loss as an educational expense and move on.