Should I contest this repair?

Here in Hawaii, as well as California, you can take your car to any authorized inspection center. Many don’t do repairs so don’t have any incentive to lie to you. All they make is their flat fee for inspection, and even that rate is competitive.

I’m beginning to think I actually do have an argument against the dealer, because no other inspection center would consider internally inspecting the rack as a normal inspection procedure, and therefore would not be subject to a “no pass”…

Very good points and tips, thanks!

Yeah the $360.00 was very high, and if it were me I would have laughed at them right at that point and it wouldn’t have gotten any further. However, to keep this story short as possible I decided not to complain about the original $360.00

This is the point I’m focusing on now…all I know is they told her it wouldn’t pass as is. But I know that no other inspection station has ever inspected my steering gear assembly, let alone even bothered to open my hood.

I guess I should go visit a few inspection centers and ask them what they are technically required to look at and what is not.

I happen to know that from the time they called my mom to the time it was finished, four hours had passed. That make 4 hours maximum they spent on the job.

No, not if they had more than one person working on that job, and how much time did they spend before they called? You are also likely looking at book hours. Most mechanics today charge labor according to the book. The book gives estimated hours for each job. If the mechanic/ shop is fast, they profit if the mechanic/shop is slow they don’t make as much.

I am sure they charged higher rates than would have been charged by the typical independent mechanic, and may have been taken advantage of, but I doubt if anything illegal took place.

She was ripped off. I looked up the parts/labor on ALLDATA and the rack lists at $333 and the labor at 2.9 hours. Even if the labor rate at the shop is $100 an hour it doesn’t come close to $1760.

You need to get an itemized list of what was done, if you get this post back as to what was done.

I pointed that out to you on 2-16-09 but you never gave it much consideration then.

I live in PA where you take your car to mechanic, dealer, or tire center for inspection. There is no state inspection station option, such as in NJ. When I took my Volvo to the dealer for inspection they claimed I had to fix the headlight windshield wipers to pass inspection, they also insisted on replacing all the wiper blades (including the tailgate) to pass. It was something like $500! I passed on them and took the same Volvo to my local tire center and it passed. No problem with wipers for headlights or any of the other wipers.

There is potential for “rip off” with the type of inspection system in PA. A mechanic can run up the bill and make unnecessary repairs. Your mother’s case is hard to say. If I’d have gotten the call I would have gone to the dealer and examined the evidence and made a decision. Steering racks are expensive. Was there a leak? Unfortunately the part is gone and we’ll never know. I think you have good reason to question the bill but I’m not sure you’ll get much satisfaction.

Here In PA I’d advise someone faced with a large bill to tell the shop to fail the car and take it to another shop for a second opinion. Two shops say it fails for a steering rack then you need a steering rack.

You said your State is Hawaii?. I went to the site that lists what fails a car with rack and pinion in Hawaii. Only a rack seal leaking badly externally fails a car.

More than 2 ocillations on a bounce test fails shocks,interesting.

Honestly OP I think you have confused internally with externslly, there is no such thing a a internal rack leak.

Or maybe someone can produce a technical description of a internal rack leak and how to diagnosis one.

I don’t think spool valve problems qualify as internal rack leaks.

Looks like a highway robbery to me. Do not allow them to get away with this ridiculous charge from an elderly person. We all have to make a living but not like this. Be nice and ask the service manager (as advised by rocketman). If they are still adamant - Tell them that you’ll get in touch with your local TV station - they are hard pressed as it is for local news - they will jump at it, and I am sure this dealer will be happy to make a deal with you.

This is very interesting. I know for sure they said “internal” leak, and they told her it would not pass inspection like this. This is why she felt compelled to OK the repair. The only way out of her ok’ing the repair is if they lied to her, and now it seems we have documented proof of that. I’m sure it’s even on her paperwork. All I need to do now is double-check that site you looked at and print out that part about only EXTERNAL rack leaks failing.

Thanks you!

Hahaha That is a terrific idea. Local news in Hawaii is like any other classic small town news. They would jump on something like this. I’m going to present the documented evidence of their lie about the internal rack leak (like oldschool pointed out above), and if that doesn’t work I’ll take all the paperwork to the local tv news stations.

I’ll be going to her house tomorrow. I’ll grab all the paperwork again and post all the details…

Sounds like you know how to write aa letter and state a case. I suggest writing another letter (or sending an email) to the Atty General of your state and put in a complaint and ask that office to look into this. I’m wondering if they saw your mom coming.

As a flat-rate tech the only people that worked with me were people I was training and I did not give them any of the flat-rate and they did not make the job go faster,you had to watch them closely as the come-back was on you. They were helpful to go get parts,or go get the whatever.

Multiple people on one car in a flat-rate shop was not done often,just in training in my experience. Two fully trained flat-rate techs on one car has probably happened but I have not seen it.

Maybe at shops like brake repair chains where one guy does the front and one does the rear.

10 min “googling” did it. It was a State of Hawaii site with a field explaining what a tech is to check and when to fail a car.

I will look my Google history and post it for you Its up in my previous post. I don’t know how to do those direct links that you just click on,through attachments? so I just did a copy and paste.

lol I’m sorry, I’m sure it was floating around in my mind when you mentioned it, but it hadn’t hadn’t crystallized as a primary focal point just yet! Now I’m on that point like a laser.

Ok, here’s a simplified breakdown of the bill:

Pass/fail safety inspection $14.70

Oil and filter change incl tire pressure and top off fluids: 41.60

(so far so good)

Automatic transaxle fluid change (w/gasket kit): 277.44

Replace steering gear asm, align, and adjust toe: 2132.68

(including $146.40 for 28 nuts and bolts)

Labor total: $1178.91

Parts total: $1287.51

Misc materials: $25.00

Hazd laterials: $9.95

Tax: $117.86

Total: $2619.23

I should mention that I did get my mom to ask for the original asm back on that day, and the boots are pristine with no leaks. Any leaks would indeed have to be “internal”.