Sabotage at the shop or coincidence?

I’ll try to keep this brief. Here is what happened to me today.

I own a 1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It has 184000 miles on it. It has had regular maintenance. The engine and transmission were replaced when I got it, as a salvaged car. The newer engine and tranny put in it had 66000 miles. I’ve only put 18000 on it since.

Earlier in the day, I left my car at a local shop. They were to put on two new front tires, check my fluid levels and change my oil.

Two hours later, I came back from lunch across the street with a friend to find my car had no reverse gear. The car rattles greatly, goes into park and drive.

One manager said my fluid level was low, the other said it was fine. They called in a district manager who swears that the piece involved could not be accessed. They said that it is a sheer coincidence that this happened at this particular moment. He even gave me a diagram and then broke down which parts he thought might have been.

They said that a labor would be $700. a junkyard transmission would be between $800-1200. I am thinking that I’m a mark and they are trying to take advantage of me. But the real question is this.

He says it could’ve been the reverse band or the reverse Reaction Drum. Could this be sabotage, mechanic error or is this the worst coincidence ever? If it is possible that this is their fault, what do I do next? The car is still on their lot.

Thanks for your thoughts guys!


I doubt sabotage. This is not an easy problem to cause. You’d need to take things apart, or really hammer things up to cause this problem. With the origins of your purchase, I believe coincidence more than sabotage. Salvaged cars are known for frequent problems cropping up, especially with transplanted drivetrains. I believe your stuck with this on. Personally, I never would have purchased this car.

BTW, get your car off the lot as soon as you can, like tomorrow. Last thing you want is to pay them storage fees on top of anything else.

You have a used transmission with no idea of what was ever done or how it was driven. Coincidence, no one is taking taking advantage of you.

The transmission is a sealed unit very difficult to damage, and why bother annoying a customer?

I’m Puzzled By One Comment And I Have A Question.

Puzzling comment:One manager said my fluid level was low, the other said it was fine.
(These two guys weren’t named either Larry, Moe, or Curly, were they?)

Question: Have you physically checked the trans fluid level yourself, following proper procedures ?

Follow Busted Knuckles’ advice (Get it away from there.) and when it’s all warmed-up and running in a different location, recheck the fluid level.

i believe the comment: ‘one guy said’, and then ‘the other guy said’ should indicate sabotage is not the issue. competence may be an issue. go somewhere else for an opinion.