Shoddy Service?

I have a dilemma and hope that someone out there can help me. I took my '93 Honda in for service because I was having intermittent grinding and pulling on the front end. I thought it was a CV joint. The mechanic took a look and said that the drivers side front half shaft axle came apart in his hand. He replaced it and we picked up the car. I drove it work ( 64 miles RT) once and the car was fine. The second time I drove it, I started to feel the familiar bumping that would precede the grinding and when I made a right turn into my driveway, the grinding was horrendous and the car froze up. I had to call a wrecker to get the car back to the mechanic. He says he throughly checked the other halfshaft axle and it looked fine, but it broke into pieces in my driveway after less than 100 miles after the “repair”. Is it possible that he really didn’t check it that well? I think that the garage should be responsible for the towing bill since they didn’t really fix my car. I am OK with paying for the extra labor and the part but if they had done the job right, I wouldn’t have had to have it towed.

Well I would guess he did not check it enough to find the problem, but there is a judgment issue here.  I doubt if he checked the fuel pump, but I don't think I would blame him for missing a problem with the fuel pump.  In hind sight he should have, but he did not have the benefit of hindsight.  

Have you talked to the mechanic since the second problem?  What did he say?

What kind of shop was this?  Dealer?  Quick Oil Change place?  Trusted mechanic recommend by several friends?  Have you had prior experience with the shop or mechanic?

Lets see if I’ve got this straight:

He fixed one side one day, and then 100 miles later, the other side failed?

He did what he was paid for, yes.
What he should have done was looked for a potential cause of it coming apart, and that’s what you should pay him for now, along with the second failed half shaft.

I would look for failed engine and transmission mounts that might be pulling things apart, or suspension components that are not lined up properly.

Has the car even been in an accident, or smacked a curb hard?


I can only give my “feelings” here. There is no reason the mechanic would not check your other halfshaft,we want all the work we can get. It is possible that nothing was evident with the level of inspection possible with an on-car half-shaft check out. I probably would have be a bit more proactive and told you “nothing appears wrong with the other shaft but it is the same age as the one that broke, do you want it replaced also”? Your mechanic goes about his job differently, not that it is wrong though.

Did the same garage do the towing and the repairs to both driveshafts? If so, you might ask if they would cut you a break on the tow. Do so politely, not in an accusing “you are trying to rip me off because I am a woman” kind of way.

If a different shop or service did the tow, you really don’t have much recourse. They provided a service and you must pay for that service.

You are driving an 18-year old car. There could be 281 things that are getting ready to break. They might break tomorrow, they might break a year from now, they might never break. It is not reasonable to expect the repairman to correctly guess when they will break and replace them accordingly and conveniently (as in the second drive shaft).

You should get a towing service like AAA or the like if you are driving a 64 mile round trip in an 18 year old car, Honda or no Honda. That way your towing is free. Well, prepaid at a lower cost.

Good Luck!

This is an automotive repair shop that we have been using for 5 years. I have always been OK with the service. He said that he checked the most recently failed half shaft and it “looked fine”. Not sure what to make of it.

Thank you for this insight. I agree that the mechanic should be checking for other things that may have caused this problem but this garage is SO BUSY that I think they might miss some things. The car has never been in an accident and no smacked curbs…one owner ( me)…but she is 18 years old and she has 268K on her.

Excellent point…I do wish he had offered to replace both shafts.

The towing company does all the towing for this garage but they are different businesses. I appreciate your advice re: an 18 y.o. car.Yes, it’s time to start looking but she has been such a great car that it’s hard to give her up.