CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Repairs not done in a timely fashion

All of my problems started in June when I moved down to Mississippi to clean up the Gulf Coast. I started working for a BP decon site that was run as strictly as the military. To keep my job I had to be at work every day, and I made sure I was there at all costs, even when that involved driving through heavy tropical rain. The cost turned out to be my engine when I drove my 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse through a ?Mississippi puddle? aka water up to my knees. The car stalled and I let it sit for a minute before I cranked it a couple times and it almost turned over, then it stopped. Nothing happened with every crank after that. My mother and my girlfriend towed the car to a nearby mechanic that I was unfamiliar with while I went into work. The mechanic diagnosed the car and reported that I had vapor locked the engine and bent the pistons. My mother assured me that I needed a new engine.

My car sat for in their lot until October when I had the money to put half down, at which point they had agreed, previously, to start work on my car. A month later I called to make another payment on the car only to learn that my car hadn?t been started. I had expected to pick up my car within the following two weeks at which point I would finish paying it off, but after learning that my car wasn?t finished I decided to hold of on making the final payment.

I finally finished paying for my car two weeks ago when a family member died and I realized that I would need it to travel back to Michigan for the funeral. I had hopes that paying off the car would motivate them to finish swiftly. At that point I was assured that the car would be ready by the 22nd. I called them a second time a couple days before my car was scheduled to be completed to make sure that everything was going as planned and I was told that my car would be finished sometime between the 22nd and the 24th. To avoid pestering, I didn?t call again until the 24th (today) and they told me that the car isn?t going to be ready until Tuesday the 30th. I?m concerned because I have to leave Wednesday, the day after, to make it to Michigan for the funeral and they haven?t kept any dates up to this point. Should I plan on flying home? My biggest concerns are whether or not I was given an accurate diagnosis of the car and whether it is typical for the removal and replacement of an engine to take this long.



Work order

Engine assembly (complete) remove & replace [Includes transfer fuel and electrical assemblies, replace engine mounts, adjust idle speed and timing. DOES NOT include transfer of manifolds valve cover oil pan timing cover or water pump.] -v6-standard $1,016.18



Manifold gasket set (intake) $21.38

Spark Plug ? double platinum ? OE Type $40.68

Spark Plug Wire Set ? Premium $85.16

Distributor Cap $39.30

Distributor Rotor $28.82

Thermostat ? Regular $23.79

Thermostat Housing Seal $2.17

Belt ? Power Steering $27.10

Belt A/C & Alternator $29.70

Belt ? Camshaft/Timing $48.80

Oil Change $18.00

Oil Filter $4.00

Oil $17.95

Antifreeze $23.98

Used Motor $1180.00



Parts $1572.82

Labor $1034.18

Tax $182.49

Total $2789.49

To answer the first question, the diagnosis makes sense and is reasonable.

To answer the second, plan on flying home…or renting a car. Their track record of keeping to their schedule sounds ahaky.

It’s not ‘vapor’ lock, but ‘hydro’ lock.
The engine ingested water through the air intake when the water was deep enough to get to the air filter nozzle. The water fills the combustion chamber of some cylinders while others are still exploding their spark and the immovable object meets the unstoppable force !

But I, like you , have issue with the time table -vs- promises made.
This is gonna be a touchy subject and dealing with each individual shop is a one at a time deal and is often base on thier mood at the time.
I’d be interested in some price concesssion when you actually get the keys in you possesion again. It’s about all you can demand.
Are any of these time promises in writing ?
Is this a big company shop with bosses or owners above those you spoke to, or just a small indy shop and you’re already dealing with the bosses and owners ?

Even if it’s done on time, I’d be very nervous about going on a long trip the day after such extensive work. If something wasn’t done right and it breaks down, you’ll have a difficult time arranging for the repair to be covered by the first shop, not to mention that you’ll be stranded. I vote for a rental car.

By the way, your engine was hydro-locked, not vapor-locked. There’s a huge difference.

I believe the problem started when you paid up front. There is no motivation to chase a bone when it’s already been caught. We have never asked anyone to pay up front unless their track record proved otherwise.

The shop could very well be unethical. But on the other hand, shops must look at the proposition of investing more time and money in the vehicle than it is worth, and to avoid that they expect enough money up front to ensure not getting stuck. Circumstances such as this have always made for hard feelings on one or both sides… Also, if the water was knee high, when the engine is replaced and started the transmission might not get the car to the city limits before it fails, IMHO.