Ripped off by mechanic

My local garage told me my engine was blown and wanted $2,600 to replace it. I later found out the engine is fine, (the fans weren’t working) What can I do about the garage trying to rip me off?

Were you ripped off, or did they try to rip you off? Your post says both.

By “later,” do you mean after you paid $2,600 or after you got a second opinion and found out your engine wasn’t blown?

What you can do is not go back. Take your business elsewhere.

So they get away with trying to rip me off and get the attempt to rip off other people? That answer is weak. How many people have they taken advantage of? How many other times have they taken money from me in the past? I want an option that lets them know they can’t get away with this sort of thing.

Wildlife, Take A Deep Breath, Start At The Beginning, And Explain What Happened.

What first happened with your car? (What make, model, year, miles, engine, etcetera?)
Did you first go to this local garage? Were you charged? Was any work performed? How did you find out they “ripped you off”? Did they rip you off or did they make a mistake? How do you know? Did you go somewhere else? Give us some details.

Pontiac Grand Am GT. My wife was driving at night and didn’t want to stop when car started overheating. Car stalled. When I arrived, put water in it, drove short distance and car continued overheating. Made it to garage, dropped it off. Next morning manager called, engine blown. Left it there while trying to raise money for new motor. Friend suspicious of garage, picked up car, tested it, says only problem is fan motors not running, hence overheating. Engine is running fine. He says he saw where they checked the fan motors, they had to know that was problem and will testify that they were trying to rip us off. They charged me with checking the motor. I am unhappy with the time we lost the car trying to come up with funds for new motor. 6 cyl about 100,000 miles. Thank you for your time.

So, Somebody fixed The Fan’s Operation And It’s Been Fine? For How Many Miles And How Long, Now?

What model year is this Pontiac?

three months a couple thousand miles

To add to common sense’s response, it should be noted that since this car was driven by the OP’s wife after it began to overheat, there could indeed be damage to the engine, and some of this damage may not yet be evident. If you continue to drive an overheating car, you have to be prepared for some serious consequences, even if they are not yet apparent.

I sincerely appreciate these responses, they are making me think. I was pretty irate the night she continued to drive the car and some of my anger is because of that. I will keep an eye on the car and keep that in mind when and if I decide to pursue anything against the garage.


Based on your replies, the questions I have at this point are:

1: Why did the local garage recommend a replacement engine?
- Did they know something that hasn’t been conveyed to you or this forum?
- Or was there incompetence on their part? There is no law against incompetence.

2: As CSA asked, how long has the engine been driven since the fan operation has been fixed?

I’d really like to understand the reason why the local garage believed the engine needed to be replaced. Your engine may currently be fine, but it’s not clear that you have enough information to know that.

“…and if I decide to pursue anything against the garage”

If you are thinking of filing a legal action against this garage, you have to be aware that you only have an actionable case if you suffered actual damages, such as being charged for an unneeded engine replacement. If you did not do anything other than pay them for a diagnosis, then you have not suffered any damages.

If you went to an M.D., were given a diagnosis that included the need for surgery, then got a second opinion, and you did not have surgery as a result of the second opinion, you could not sue the first doctor for malpractice simply because of a diagnosis that was supposedly incorrect.

You have every right to be annoyed, angry, dismayed, or pi**ed off. However, you do not have any kind of valid case against a mechanic because of his diagnosis that may or may not have been correct, unless you actually spent money on repairs as a result of that diagnosis.

Wildlife, You Will Need To Closely Monitor (Frequently Check) The Car’s Vital Fluids.

Overheating (and especially driving in that condition) can do damage that will show up in fluid (particularly engine coolant and engine oil) consumption and/or fluid contamination. Check the fluids weekly or at each gas fill-up for dropping levels and for purity. Dropping levels and no apparent leaks can indicate that the engine has suffered damage internally. The coolant should not be muddy, but clear, and the oil should not be muddy or cloudy. Overheating can result in damage that allows these fluids that are normally separated in the engine, to mix and cause additional damage, leading to the demise of the engine and/or cooling system.

If the vital fluids are cross-contaminating, then the engine must be repaired/replaced or it will eventually self destruct. Since we don’t know the year of the vehicle, I can only say that it may not be worth this type of repair work, resulting in a totalled vehicle, possibly due to driving it in a damaged state.

I would be extremely surprised if this vehicle did not suffer at least blown head gasket(s) by driving it while in an overheated condition. Are you sure that the garage wasn’t trying to tell you politely that this car isn’t worth throwing money at?

Good luck. If this car continues to have clean fluids and isn’t overly consuming any, then maybe the shop erred and you lucked out.

When I have had similar problems, I just wrote negative reviews in Mechanics Files and local forums to warn others to beware. Avoid any editorializing in these reviews, just state the facts succinctly and let others draw their own conclusions. That way, the shop cannot track you down and come after you legally.

The professional(or not so) diagnosis was engine replacement. You opted against it and got a 2nd opinion(good for you!) as you should prudently with any major/serious repair.

No damage done and you have no case. Let it go. You can tell your story of woe on a local review website like google business or yahoo business etc.

I would not call the fan diagnosis a done deal. This is what you said: “My wife was driving at night and didn’t want to stop when car started overheating.”

If the only problem here was with the fans, driving the car at night is a very unlikely time for the car to overheat due to inoperable fans. You haven’t said where you live, but nights are fairly cool. While the car is moving, the movement is pushing air past the radiator and this will almost always keep the car plenty cool even without the fans. The time the car would overheat from lack of a fan is while sitting still at idle - and will be worse as the ambient temp is higher.

So I think that you still do have some kind of a major problem - and it could be engine threatening. As CSA suggested keep a close eye on everything - especially fluid levels & condition.

I cannot sincerely thank enough everyone for their responses. This is my first time on this site and it is fantastic. My hothead might’ve caused me to do something I would’ve regretted. I just got back from talking to the garage and he said he did a compression test on the coolant(?) system and he honestly feels the engine is done. We will just have to wait and see. I appreciate the intelligent advice and support. THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH.

We can help more if you clarify that last statement.

On a cooling system you do a “pressure test” to search for leaks in the cooling system.

On an engine, you run a “compression test” to find out if the cylinders can produce compression (if they can’t then the car won’t run, and normally the only fix for this kind of issue is an engine rebuild or replacement).

If the shop you used tested compression and found problems - AND you had overheating while driving, I’m also going to guess that you have a blown head gasket.

Your wife made an error (as many people do) by not stopping when the car was overheating.
Continuing to operate a vehicle in this condition may convert a 5 dollar fix into one that costs thousands of dollars.

It’s entirely possible (and more than quite likely) that the engine has suffered severe damage even though it might even appear to run fine.
Severe overheating will often cook valve seals and either seize the piston rings in their lands or remove the ring temper.
Any of that can lead to oil consumption; not to mention weakened head gaskets, etc.

Maybe an engine replacement was recommended on the basis of a compression test, which is one of the first steps that should be done when an engine is severely overheated.

You should keep an eye not only on the oil level but also as to whether coolant could be mixing with the oil. The latter will often give the engine oil a sour milk appearance.

Keep checking the coolant levels. If you loose coolant then you most likely have a leak somewhere, possibly the headgasket.

I can certainly understand your anger but you might want to let the wife know that she might have lucked out here but if it would have been an oil light coming on, her not wanting to stop wouldnt have been an option. It would have stopped for her and she would have destroyed the engine. My wife did that once before, it cost her dearly and she never did it again. Did the shop give you any specifics on what actually “blew” on the engine??