Repair and Maintenance

This past Friday, my husband,Dennis took his 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe to our local mechanic to have the timing belt and water pump changed. We had been told to replace the timing belt religiously every 60,000 miles. Knowing the damage that can be done by a broken timing belt, we have complied, usually taking the car to the dealer. Our local guy told my husband, “No problem, we can changed the timing belt.” This was just routine, preventive maintencance. We were not having any problems with the car. It was running fine. Later than day, my husband picked up the Hyundai and drove it home. The next day, he drove it to his friend’s house, maybe twenty-five miles and the car just “crapped out”. We had it towed to the mechanic who today tells us the engine is shot and a rebuilt engine will cost about $3200. We rather suspect that some’t one didn’t put the timing belt on right. Our mechanic claims “COINCIDENCE” What do you think? We’ve worked with this mechanic for over 15 years. We’d be crestfallen to find he is being dishonest with us but…really! There’s coincidence and there’s cause and effect.

It all depends on what failed. Please get more information.

If the belt snapped or jumped teeth, then pistons hit valves, wrecking the heads, then ‘Yes, the timing belt was improperly installed and destroyed the engine.’

If a connecting rod broke, and blew a hole in the side of the block, or locked up the engine, then ‘No, just coincidence.’

Well what happened?? Did the newly installed timing belt fail or was it something else? If the timing belt is still in place, then your mechanic is off the hook…If timing belt failure destroyed the engine, I’d say your mechanic is on the hook…

The mechanic claims it wasn’t anything they did. In order to find out what the problem is, they would have to dismantle the car from underneath. He sounded so sheepish when talking to me and, whereas a coincidence is possible, my husband and I are thinking the timing belt was not installed correctly and are planning on having the Santa Fe towed to the dealer to get another opinion. A new engine is a big chunk of change. I can see this mechanic not wanting to be on the hook for the dough. Or am I just too cynical?

Father Levri told me a long time ago, “There are no such things as coincidences.” Doesn’t the fact that the engine “crapped out” right after a critical service was performed on it to prevent it from “crapping out” tell you something? I see possibly small claims court in your future, unless your mechanic’s insurance will cover your loss. In this day and age be cynical. But with car mechanics, in any age, be very cynical.

The mechanic claims it wasn’t anything they did. In order to find out what the problem is, they would have to dismantle the car from underneath.

Well well. They are saying “We don’t know what is wrong”, but even without knowing what it is, “it was not us.”

You are now up against a legal issue and that varies from state to state. You will have to decide how to proceed. Pay for local legal advice, check on small claims court, (it may be covered there) or ???

I would get everything in writing, especially the mechanic’s response.

I am having the car towed to the dealership’s service department. For $89.95, they will diagnose the problem. At this juncture, I think an independent third party is the way to go. Everything, though, is pointing to a foul-up on the replacement of that belt. I’ll let you know what I find out. In a way, I’m hoping it was a tie rod. There’s nothing worse than getting F’d over by someone you’ve known and trusted for 15 years.

“I’m hoping it was a tie rod.”

In your engine?

Hopefully the dealership will be able to diagnose the problem for that $89.95 fee.
At this point, it surely sounds like the indy mechanic screwed up when he installed the timing belt.
If that is what happened, there is likely to be extensive engine damage, but it would not involve a tie rod.

I’m sorry. A previous poster had suggested that it could possibly be a “connecting rod” (not a tie rod). Forgive my ignorance.

I Think Your 90 Buck Decision Is A Good One. Please Let Us Know What The Dealer Finds.


I am having the car towed to the dealership’s service department.

Good idea.

What could have happened…The belt broke and your mechanic doesn’t want to eat the cost of another engine for you…So he’s claiming that it’s just a coincidence. I have a big problem with it being a coincidence. Engines usually don’t just crap-out WITHOUT some type of warning (unless it’s something like a timing belt). Very fishy…I’d be very skeptical.

It’s not likely a connecting rod.

What probably happened is that due to an improper installation (which IMHO would include things lke not checking the timing belt tensioner) the timing belt broke, the pistons and the valves lost their respective timing, and they smacked into one another. So you may have bent valve stems, dinged pistons tops, and maybe even a broken valve…and cylinder damage (rare, but not impossible). The connecting rods are the rods that withstand the explosion when the cylinders fire and push the pistons down, and they’re a lot stronger than the valve stems. When the two collide, it’s the valve stems that generally give way.

Sincere best. I look forward to the final diagnosis.

You know, now that I think of it…:me thinks the mechanic doth protest a bit too much. His reluctance to go through “all the work” entailed in getting under the car to see what, exactly, is wrong with the engine could be a big, fat case of CYA. He doesn’t want to go throughthe trouble of dismantling the car to get to the engine and thinks it sufficient for us to know that the engine is shot. The dealership has not gotten to the car yet. They did try to turn it on and(this is the manager of the department) and he thought from the noise the car made that it didn’t sound like to timing belt. I don’t know when they can get to it but I promise I’ll let you know how thestory turns out.

Here’s the answer, guys. My husband and I are just the two luckiest people in the whole entire world. The dealership looked at the valves and pistons and all was A-Okay. We were told it was a “lower-end problem”; that the engine was shot and that it didn’t really pay to look inside to find out why, exactly, it was shot because he knows it wasn’t from a faulty timing belt. Why oh why did I nag my beloved to go and changed that darn belt. We’d still have had to buy a new car but at least we would have had the $1000 we spent on repairs to apply to the purchase price. The End.

Well, here’s hoping your car shopping goes well for you in the near future. Even though you really need a car now, don’t let the salesmen know this.