Transmission rebuild

I remember a report years ago. I think it may have been on “60 minutes”.

This shop was right off the freeway where motorhomes pass by continually.
A guy would pull next to you and motion for you to pull over because of an emergency. Once you talked to him, he would explain that smoke was pouring out from the back of the motorhome. He would then tell you that he knows of the best and most honest mechanic around…and he’s just at the next exit.

They had cameras hidden under the vehicle and it showed the mechanic pulling off the differential cover and emptying a handful of metal chips from a shop rag into the cover. He then rolled out and showed the owner the evidence.

The mechanic played like he was on the phone searching for a new rear end. He played it up until he came back with a used rear end that would be in the next morning. He even got them a ride to a nearby motel.

The cameras ran the entire time, and the next morning he rolled under, put the cover back on the old differential, filled it with fluid and called the owners…that their motorhome was done.

He charged them for a used differential and labor. I don’t remember what he charged, but I’m sure the owners…stuck away from home on vacation were willing to pay quite a bit for his help.

And all he spent was a few dollars on some fluid…maybe a gasket…and less than an hour of time.
He may have even pumped the old fluid back in.

I don’t remember now how someone got wise to this guy. It may have been the motel owner wondering why so many motorhomes breakdown and end up at this mechanic, or maybe a prior employee.

But what a scam. That’s why I prefer a dealership or their recommendation on a trip so far from home.


Concur w/the advice above to not return to that shop. Since you’ve now got your truck at your home area, ask around to find which transmission shop is the best in town and let them figure it out. It may be just a few simple adjustments they need to make is all. When my Ford truck needed a C4 tranny rebuild I asked my normal mechanic which shop he’d recommend if he needed his done. “No question bout it”, he said, "this guy I’m recommending runs the best tranny shop in the area. " And he was right. I’d drop by and watch the work being done, and everything was meticulously clean and carefully checked and approved before he’d allow the tech to move to the next step. His estimate was the highest of all those I got too. And the price was well worth it.

You need an actual tranny specialist shop to do this for you. Not a shop that also rebuilds trannys. Since you couldn’t have avoided using the shop you did, probably just write it off as an experience to remember. I don’t think they purposely were trying to cheat you.

Actually both times I drove away the OD light was flashing. They knew it wasn’t fixed properly but they wanted to get it out because it was there busiest week of the year. The sturgis bike rally. First time they didn’t even test drive it and told me to go ahead and drive 700 miles to pick it up. I have no problem taking then to court. Kinda getting tired of people ripping people off and there being no consequences. If I lose at least I will get a straight answer in a court room rather then them blowing smoke up my ass over the phone.

“They knew it wasn’t fixed properly but they wanted to get it out . . .”

They pretty much admitted they’re incompetent, yet they wanted the vehicle out of there, and they wanted to keep your money

" . . . they didn’t even test drive it"

They even admitted their work procedures are a joke . . . and that’s putting it nicely

They DESERVE to be taken to small claims court

A shop like that deserves to lose all its business and go under

I feel small claims court is too lenient. They don’t even have to show up in court. One can only recover the actual money lost. No punishment or gain due to lost work and time, headaches and other consequences due to their negligence. I’d get a lawyer.

But what would a lawyer cost?

more or less than the value of the transmission “repairs” . . . ?!

Everybody has an opinion so here’s mine. Small claims court is not meant to be a trial by jury but rather an expedited means of a consumer getting redress for a monetary issue, without high cost or lawyers. It really is more like arbitration. You simply pay the fee, explain your case to the judge with any documentation you may have. The other side does the same. No lawyers are allowed. Its just consumer to provider. The judge weighs the evidence against the law and makes the decision, and issues a binding judgement. If one person doesn’t show up, they obviously can’t state their side, but obviously there are still business law properties that apply. Then of course is the problem of actually collecting the money but they would be in contempt if they didn’t pay. It is not meant to punish anyone but to settle a dispute. Geeze why do courts need to invoke punishment?

If OP wants to take the first “repair” shop to small claims court, but nobody from the shop shows up, what does that mean?

Is the judge then compelled to side with the consumer?

Like I said, the judge bases his/her decision on business law principles, whether the other party provides any evidence or not. One of those is that you need to give the shop the opportunity to correct their error. Just once. Then you are free to have it repaired somewhere else. Why wouldn’t the shop just go and explain what they did though? You don’t have to have a suit on. You just literally stand before the judge in your greasy jeans and explain what you did and why. Of course its always nice to clean hands and fingernails first.

Well, it sounds like the first “repair” shop was given the “opportunity to correct their error”

And it sounds like they botched it, and possibly created yet some more problems

Assuming the story has been 100% accurate so far, the judge would likely side with OP

I agree, but in the area where the shop is located it is entirely possible that the local judges will automatically favor the “good old boys” whose business is just down the road a piece, and who are local taxpayers.
Justice is supposed to be blind but there have been countless instances of favoritism based on…payoffs…political affiliation…or just plain corruption on the part of the local judiciary.

In a situation like that, the plaintiff will win by default.


You’re talking about South Dakota. I have ties to South Dakota and spent time there. They might be a little less formal there but they apply the same legal principles. The judge might wear cowboy boots behind the bench in Rapid City but you’ll get as honest a ruling as anywhere else. In fact I’m familiar with Minneapolis too and I’d rather appear before a SD judge than a Minneapolis one, depending of course on who (not to be racist) the defendant is in Minneapolis.

Often times though the issues of auto repair are not clear and even here, you’ll get diverse opinions on cause and effect. So it’s only natural a judge might see things differently and just split the thing down the middle assigning some blame to both.

But even if “blame” is split down the middle, that’s a better situation than OP has right now

right now he’s footed the entire, not at all insubstantial, bill, and doesn’t have much to show for it

In fact, he’s got problems that didn’t even exist before the supposed total overhaul

If it costs $1,000 to repair the electrical problems, this might be all that the judge awards the plaintiff. I have not seen any effort in trying to determine if the transmission had a “blown seal” or if fluid leaked from the vent. I don’t believe the full repair cost will be refunded.

What about the negligence of not test driving a vehicle and having me drive 700 miles one way to get it when it’s not even fixed properly costing me another $1000 just to get it back with who knows how much electrical problems, which they knew about and told me to get it anyway.

So a small claims judge won’t reward me with compisation for gas or meals because of their admitted screw up?

Sorry Causeg, I don’t think any of us can offer any legal advice that would carry any weight with two states involved.

If I was you I would contact a lawyer. Many will provide you with a limited amount of free consultation time to decide whether or not they will take the case or whether or not you want to proceed further. During that conversation you should ask your questions regarding small claims options.

I am not sure if there are any lawyers here responding to your post, but if I was you, I would be careful to make any decisions based on what you hear here from me and others.

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I can’t imagine getting mileage and meals. Just what it cost you to get it fixed right at your home base. where you live. But yeah suit yourself and talk to a lawyer.

So if you brought your car in for an oil change and they forgot to put the cap back on and you drove 5 hours away from home you wouldnt expect your rental and Hotel to be covered? Or tow truck covered? Even though they knew they didn’t put the cap back on? Wow I would love to do business with you. You’re a very nice guy.