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The Problems?

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have 2006 Honda Civic with about 20,000 miles on it. Recently (since last week) it developed an unpleasant rumbling noise. It seems coming from the left-front side (under the hook) when I drive it at 10 (+/-) mph (especially on a rough road). It sounds like a small bottle rolling. Another problem is that it makes clunk noise whenever I give a quick break. I do not know anything about a car. So, I went to a Honda car dealer and was told that I may be charged $50-$150 for diagnosis for each problem. I am currently unemployed and I can?t afford that kind of service fees.

My questions are: What the problems might be? Do I need to have them fixed as soon as possible?

I would really appreciate your help and your time.


Helen McClarin

Granted, diagnostics take time and time is money both for the shop and mechanic but those fees sound excessive to me for something that should not require anything more than a quick visual and a “feel around” inspection.

In the interest of PR and the possibility of generating some service work, I would think someone would have taken a quick look (even a free one) to determine if there is an obvious problem.

Your car only has a measly 20k miles on it so it should not be a major problem. Rumbling often points to a wheel bearing problem but this should not be the case at 20k miles.

I’m thinking along the lines of a broken sway bar link based on the clunk when breaking. A rumbling could also be a broken link rubbing against the wheel or halfshaft (axle).
A quick look under the car without even bringing it into the shop could have determined whether this is the problem or not.

Forget the dealer. Find a small independent shop and have them look at it. Odds are they may be more cooperative.

(And when you’re talking to the dealer, you’re dealing with service writers. Very few of these guys know anything about a car and simply BS their way through the work day along with throwing out inspection fees as quoted to you.)

Hope that helps.

Look for an independent auto mechanic who specializes in the Asian imports and let them diagnose. You’ll get a better deal.

Thank you. It helps.

Tom and Ray must be very happy they don’t have to deal with finding the cause of someones cars odd noise. I know I don’t miss that part of the business at all. If you take me out of the dispatch loop you have to pay. If you take a bussiness employee away from work you have to pay. You may say that if I find the cause of the noise I will make money. I have lost more money looking for “squeaks and rattles” than I ever made after finding them. The customer never wants to pay seperatly for finding and pay again for fixing.

You should still be under warranty.

I agree that one should really not intrude on a commissioned mechanic because they have a ton of minutes eaten up every day for which they do not get paid. Two minutes here, 5 minutes there, etc. and it adds up over a week’s time.

This is one reason why I think that service writers, and managers, should have actual experience as a mechanic. This way, a writer can take a quick look and spot an obvious problem or at least make an educated guess followed by giving a ballpark estimate of the repair.

I’ve done service writer/manager work for dealers and it was never a problem for me to spend a few minutes driving a car, listening to it, or taking a quick look at it.
Doing this keeps that freebie work off of the mechanics’ backs anyway; and it also helps in customer relations when the person doing the writing actually knows what’s going on.

Yes, the car is still under warranty…

I don’t understand the problem then, the Dealer is refusing warranty service? are they saying “could not duplicate” or are they saying “we will look but if its not warranty you will pay for our look”? The Service manager knows how to write a claim if this is the case. It happens all the time that people think they have a warranty situation and it turns out not to be so,with no charge to customer,they have to look ,what if it is warranty?

What kind of warranty? I thought the factory new car warranty was 3 years/36k miles and if the car was sold new before Junish of '06 then you’re out of luck.

If you bought the car used with a “dealer promise” of a warranty, then you need to review the details of the written warranty ((IF you were given one in writing).

I was told that the “checking” is not covered by warranty. I may need to talk to the manager. Thank you.