So, coolant somehow leaked and destroyed the engine in the used Subaru Outback 2001(about 130,000 miles) that I just recently bought. I’m new to SW Colorado and asked my aunt and uncle who have lived here 20+ years who they’d recommend for a mechanic. Since I don’t want to be specific about the mechanic just yet, I’ll just say they sent me to “Dan.” He’s been in business since 1977 and seems credible. This is my first very own vehicle so I’ve never paid too close of attention to detail when it came to mechanics, but I had a bad feeling about this place from the get-go. It’s got junk cars filling the parking lot and just doesn’t seem like a well put together place. However, the repair money is coming through my parents and it was their choice in who I went to, and they chose Dan.
When I went to pick my car up after getting the new engine, I got a write up of the work along with a receipt. I didn’t, however, think to get a copy of the warranty, and he didn’t think to give me one. Anyway, the car felt extremely sluggish going up the hill back to where I live. I told the Dan this and told him that the check engine light also went on. He said that the coolant must have fried the catalytic converter as well and that I’d need a new one. He said he could get me a cheaper one NOT from Subaru but that the check engine light might go on again. I told him to get me a factory one because I do not want my CE light being on unnecessarily and that I was willing to pay the extra money for it. I made an appointment for over a week later. I called that morning to confirm, and he didn’t even seem aware that I would be coming in that day. He said he could get me in, and that it would take a total of two hours to do. After two hours I called and he said things didn’t seem right and he needed to do a test drive. A couple hours later he finally told me that he’d gotten the wrong size converter and he’d need to keep my car until he could get the right part, and he’d replace it and get it back to me. He picked me up in my car and I noticed that there was a piece of plastic lying on the ground that I know for sure had not been there before (I’d just cleaned my car out before dropping it off). I asked if he knew what it was and he said, “Oh, it must be for the light on the door. I’ll put that on for ya.” No one else could have knocked it off but someone in his shop - so they just tossed it on the floor of the car and weren’t going to saying anything? Anyway, his son drove me 20 minutes from the shop to their house to get their “loaner car” and tried to start it up but it didn’t even have a battery in it. After an hour of waiting in the cold for him to find and put in a battery, I took off in their little car full of the family’s random junk.
I went back to get my car a couple days later and when I asked how it was running Dan said, “it’s made a great improvement.” I asked if it felt right and he said, “I got it going from 45mph up that hill to 65mph. It’s much better.” I didn’t think to correct him at the time, but I’d been able to get my car to go 55mph up that hill, not 45. I asked one more time, very clearly, if the car felt like it was running the way it should be. And he again said he’d made an improvement and did not answer my actual question. I drove it up the hill and could only get it to 60mph, flooring it (meanwhile I noticed there was black gunk on the doorhandle that hadn’t been there before). I called and told him, and he said he doesn’t make race cars and that I shouldn’t be speeding up that hill anyway - flooring it and going 70 was going to kill my engine. I told him that I don’t care about speed, but I’d at least like my car to be able to make it up the hill going the speed limit (which is 65) and not be passed by every single other vehicle (which I was). Isn’t flooring it and going only 60 going to be just as much stress on the engine?
I got back on the road and the check engine light went on. Again, I called Dan.
Dan- It’s because you used low grade fuel. If you use up your tank and put in higher grade fuel the light will go off.
Me- Ok. By the way, what did you read the compression at for my car?
Me- That’s really low. It should be between 150 and 165.
Dan- Maybe at sea level (he knows I just moved out here from Ca).
Me- This was a local mechanic that told me what it should be at.
Dan- Maybe for another car.
Me- He knows exactly what kind of car I drive.
Dan- Well I’ve never seen a Subaru with that kind of compression.
I made an appointment to go see another mechanic and had him run various tests. He said that the catalytic converter that was put in is an after-market part and that the check engine light was on because the o2 sensors have a lower threshold for after-market parts. I told him that I’d just had that converter put in and was supposed to be a factory part, and he said that if it’s really from Subaru then it’s a whole different set-up than he’s ever seen before. He said that the holes aren’t in the same place and that there’s nowhere to attach the heat sensors, so it’s pretty blatantly different from any other factory part he’s seen.
Since all this has happened I’ve looked at Dan’s yelp reviews and there are two One-Star reviews that say he put the wrong part in. There’s another hidden six reviews that that are “Not Recommended by Yelp,” meaning that they might be fake reviews. All of those ones are Five-Star reviews.
So, my point in making this post is to make sure that I make the correct steps from here. I’m under the impression that Dan has lied to me on multiple occasions. I’m going to have the 2nd mechanic put a new factory converter in, and I’m going to take pictures of the one he puts in and the one he takes out. Then I’ll return Dan’s converter to him and make sure to get a copy of my engine warranty from him since he never gave me one before. I’m NOT going to pay him for the converter. He’d also replaced some O2 sensors so I will pay him for those. If he asks for payment for labor I will tell him that I’ve paid enough already in time and energy. (He’s charging a total of $1000. According to the 2nd mechanic, you should pay no more than a few hundred dollars for an after-market converter.)
Please let me know your thoughts on ANY of this. I know it’s long, sorry. I feel I should also note that Dan knows I’m a 23 year old female who knows very little about cars, and that I just moved out here and my parents are the ones paying for repairs, from California. I’m a pretty obviously good candidate for someone to easily rip off. At least that’s what I’m thinking Dan’s thinking.