Questionable Mechanic

My son’s car. They told me there were two oil leaks that need to be addressed, but there are and never have been any drips under the car.
They said it needed a new battery (true) and wanted to charge me $200 for a new one (AC Delco).
This is a highly rated outfit!

You need to look around and under the engine for oil leaks. Not all leaks make it to the ground. Batteries have gotten much more expensive within the last few years and they charge for labor for the removal and install. You could do it yourself and save on the battery.

So, what you are saying is that you think the mechanic was trying to make a profit doing work that might not need to be done, and overcharging you for a battery? The answer is to learn how to deal with these sorts of issues yourself. Was the oil level dropping rapidly? If not, then who cares what the mechanic said? Is the battery failing? If not, same answer. If it is, start shopping and buy a new one and learn how to put it in.

If you don’t have basic tools, buy a set from Sears. It’s cheaper than paying the “mechanic” once, and you’ll own the tools for life.

You didn’t say what the car is. Sometimes it is not easy to get at the battery. On our Silhouette, I have to disconnect the fuse box, disconnect the strut that the fuse box attaches to, and then loosen and remove two bolts at the bottom of the battery. The labor rate could be higher than expected, depending on the car. I paid about $140 with taxes for the last battery I replaced. Maybe $200 isn’t a ripoff.


if you’re a costco member, and they have the correct battery in stock, I highly advise buying it there

You can install it in the parking lot yourself

They have a 3 year free replacement period, which is on par with the other guys

I’m not sure what battery you need, but they have many of the common sizes

I have extremely mixed opinions about AC Delco batteries. My experience is the ones that are installed at the factory can last up to 7 years. But even the best AC Delco batteries you buy over the counter don’t last that long. Perhaps up to 5 years, and usually not even that long

The ones with the gray label are the best in my opinion, but you can’t actually buy those over the counter. They seem to be reserved for the new cars only

Oil Leaks: allegedly valve cover and seal over camshaft at front
No visible change of level in thousands of miles
1999 Lexus ES300
Battery 24F, dead easy to reach.
$15 labor charge for battery replacement (under warranty, elsewhere)
I am saying, it looks like they were trying to rip me off.


How in the heck would they know the cam seal is leaking. You’d have to remove the upper timing cover to see it. And they’re not going to do that, unless they’re paid to do it

If the battery’s under warranty elsewhere, get the new battery at the other place, and install it yourself

As far as the valve cover gasket, is it even visibly seeping? Or is it dry as a bone?

If the valve cover gaskets have never been replaced they will most likely be leaking, over time the rubber hardens and they do not seal well. I think the other seal is not a seal but the “half moon” that sits below the valve cover and should be resealed when the v.c. gaskets are replaced. The oil may not be hitting the ground as it is more of a seep than a leak.

Steve makes a good point. I wasn’t even thinking of the half moon

I have an older car with a visibly leaking valve cover gasket. No single drop of oil hits the ground, and it’s not causing a rapid drop in the engine level

But it is leaking. Since it’s not a daily driver, I just keep an eye on the oil level for now.

For one battery I paid about $125 for a Delco and on the other car I paid about $150 for a Delco. That was over the counter and not installed, so $200 installed might be a little high but not beyond the realm of possibility.

I’d get a second opinion from a reputable independent shop. I understand what Steve is saying, but if you’re not using any oil at all in thousands of miles than any seepage you have isn’t serious. IMHO many shops want to change all valvecover and other accessible gaskets on all cars over five years old because there’s money in it. I personally am highly skeptical of these “suggestions”.

Re: the battery; if it’s past five years old and you live above the 40th parallel, you may want to think about replacing it. If it isn’t, and you 're not having any problems, just have it (and the charging system) tested by the independent shop.


A picture is worth a thousand words

Maybe if we could see this valve cover gasket leak . . .

I’ve already replaced the battery under warranty (something they did not suggest) and decided to merely continue watching the oil. I am more like saying, it seems to me we should avoid this place in the future–do you agree? Thing is, it is very close to my son’s residence. Even walking distance. Nothing else is.

Before judging them as a bad shop, look and see if there is a leak. I would go back and ask them to show you the leaks. It is most often the rear valve cover that leaks the worst, it is also best viewed from under the car.

Batteries last longer in the North than they do in the south.

Perhaps, but they’re much more likely to leave you stranded in the morning if your mornings are typically 20F than if they’re typically 70F… {:slight_smile:

How in the heck would they know the cam seal is leaking. You'd have to remove the upper timing cover to see it. And they're not going to do that, unless they're paid to do it

This happened to me. That was the last time I ever visited that dealership. In fact when I needed to buy a new new vehicle I drove directly past that dealership for another 20 miles to another Nissan dealership.

Sorry, Mike what happened to you? Was it diagnoses that were just money-generators?

I was at the dealership getting a minor service done on my exhaust. The service shoulld have only cost me $40…but the service writer comes out with these $1500 in repairs he said my vehicle needed IMMEDIATELY. One was the cam seals…the other was a timing belt, which I just replaced 2 weeks prior. Total sleaze Nissan dealership.

Mike, I sadly have to suggest that what you experienced seems in my experience to be the common mode by which dealerships are trying to support themselves now. It’s almost as if there’s a “service writer’s school” somewhere out there teaching this stuff.