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Trustworth Mechanics

After 10 years, 7 cars and Big $ with the same mechanic, his regular help quits and new guys are hired. As a hod rodder and old friend of my husband’s, I trusted him with all our vehicles. A motor mount had broken on our daughter’,s 97 Grand Prix GT. It has has several bouts with overheating; the coolant "tube"coolant “nipple”, intake manifold gaskets all were done at different times at a cost of well over $1200. Each time we were charged a different price for coolant ($13 for 1 up to $36 for 2) I questioned my husbands buddy, and he claims the cost goes up and down like oil. I just bought 2 bottles at Wal-Mart for $8 each so I didn’t like his answer. I took my spouse to the shop and the hired man starts showing him the problems, lifts the plastic cover from the engine and there are 4 acorns in a shallow spot near the wiring. He states sometimes squirrels or mice carry acorns to a warm spot then chew on the wiring. I see this and am now near the boiling point. How in God’s green earth could a “squirrel” get acorns into a crevice under a tightly fitting plastic cover or a mouse carry an acorn 1/4 his size up a tire and into a motor? These guys have been working on this car for years and never noticed these there before? Would my husbands buddy allow his help to start the repair process on another problems by planting acorns under the hood of a customer’s car? And how many other repairs were done (loosen tire rod ends, brakes, hub assemblies, struts) not just the usual oil change and tune ups. I want some sort of condolence. Kathy Kitchen, Lincoln NE

I once saw a magician pull a tennis ball out of a Dixie cup so a squirrele hiding nuts is in my possibility file.

None of the things that you list are actual evidence of this guy’s alleged malfeasance, IMHO. He may turn out to be a crook, but so far, you have not given me any “smoking gun” evidence that confirms your suspicions.

Mice can get into incredibly small crevices, and they can carry things–particularly food items–that seem very large for their body size. Incidentally, mice, voles, and other small rodents do love to nest under the hoods of cars. As a result, I think that the “acorn conspiracy” that you envison is likely just rodent nesting/food storage behavior.

Even the cost of coolant is not suspect, since every part or material that a shop installs on your car is “marked up” to a certain extent. You know, sort of like the price of wine in a restaurant, as opposed to how much you would pay for that same wine from a liquor store.

Just to put yourself in a situation where you are not automatically doubting everything that your mechanic does, you may want to switch to a different shop. However, you have not yet convinced me that you are being cheated by your present mechanic.

Squirrels and other animals can get into the weirdest places on cars. Without seeing the acorns in place, I don’t think any of us can make any other judgement. I get more concerned about wasp nests under the hood, myself.

A shop’s cost for basics like antifreeze will vary and generally includes a mark up, so what you pay at the garage is nearly always higher than buying the same stuff at Walmart. If you don’t like his pricing arrangements, try another mechanic.

Sorry, no sympathy at this point.

Mice and squirrels are both rodents and therefore related. Mice for sure can squeeze their little bodies through openings that would seem impossible, not sure about squirrels. I found evidence of mice nesting in the back of my Volvo wagon, shreds of fabric and shells of nuts. They were using the sound deadening material for nest building by shredding it and eating and pooping there too. The area was under the floor in the back where the spare tire is stored. No clue how they got in there, with the car on the lift and flashlights I could not see any opening, but they found a way. They had not eaten any wiring so I just cleaned out the area and put some traps, the sticky kind, back there. I caught two of them in the traps and end of story.

Years ago there was an “antifreeze shortage” and the price shot up to ridiculous levels. Prices do vary but not sure by how much lately.

Bottom line is you have lost faith in this mechanic. I could tell you their story is plausible, but you are not buying. It is time for you to move on and find a mechanic you can trust. It’s not a matter of whether or not you have been cheated, we can’t tell that long distance. What is clear is that you don’t trust them anymore and noone can change that.

I think you worry too much.

The problems with your Pontiac are the car not the mechanics more than likely.

Realize buying anything at Walmart is going to be cheaper. They strong arm and supplier of a product into the lowest price on a product. The reason is if Walmart does not want to buy your product you just lost about 25-33% of the potential market. The commerical auto parts place supplying your mechanic does not have the power to sell so cheap. Also your mechanic needs a bit of a lift on not only labor but parts to survive.

If you don’t like this mechanics prices ask Walmart to fix your car, they don’t.

It seems the issue is that you don’t trust your mechanic. If the mechanic is indeed untrustworthy, you haven’t proven it yet.

If your mechanic sold you coolant for $8/gallon, he would not make any money. He isn’t in business to sell you materials at his cost.

Some Super Walmarts have automotmotive service centers. If price is more important to you than quality, perhaps you should ask Walmart to work on your cars.

On this forum, we regularly get questions from people asking how to keep rodents out from under or inside their cars. To me, the mechanic’s mouse theory holds water.

The cost of the coolant sounds in reason, charging you $13 for the cheapest time probably didn’t need as much coolant or he was cutting you a brake.

As Whitey stated, if you want cheap price but dubious quality go to a Super Walmart.

My husband’s buddy claims the car needs new u&l intake manifold gaskets (which HE did in 2005) that new ones have come out now that have metalic fabric that stops the problems. The bill in 05 was $855 (most labor). The coolant he says is leaking could be from the hose with the 2 inch slit spraying all over the engine (we replaced the day we discovered the motor mount problem) Shouldn’t he say, “go spray off the engine at the carwash and in a few days see if there is still a leak from the gaskets” or try putting dye in the coolant to find the source? Plus, he says we mixed two colors of coolant and it’s like acid in your motor. I said "then why are you letting me drive out of here with acid in my radiator? He claimed he didn’t get started on it until after 12 (the car was parked there the night before) and didn’t have time…what to make a phone call??? I will take the advice and switch mechanics…Kathy

I still don’t see the validity of your doubts about this mechanic, but at this point you really do need to change mechanics since you have lost faith in the current mechanic.

When you find fault with the next mechanic, feel free to return to this forum for a reality check.

You had a hose with a 2 inch slit in it, spraying coolant all over the engine bay, and you are complaining about work he did 4 years ago.

You said you bought coolant at Walmart, did you just buy what was cheapest or did you look in the owner’s manual and see what type you should have used? That GM has the red or pink coolant in it and you SHOULD NOT mix other coolants with it.

If the engine has been over heating, from a lack of fluid because of a large leak in one of the lines, the work done in 2005 could very well need to be redone. Not all leaks leak outside of the engine, many leak into the engine and you would not see the coolant.

If you mixed different types of coolants, you can’t blame that on your mechanic. He can only fix things, he can’t protect you from your own … I will call them “mistakes” to be polite. Would you have preferred he refused to give your car because of a mistake you made? That would be bad customer service.

Shouldn’t he say, “go spray off the engine at the carwash and in a few days see if there is still a leak from the gaskets” or try putting dye in the coolant to find the source?

It sounds like he has already found the source. Why would he do these things, so you can pay for unnecessary diagnostic work?

You left your car there the night before, and he got to it at noon the next day? That’s pretty good assuming he takes customers on a first-come first-served basis.

I am glad you are going to look for another mechanic, but not for your sake, for your poor mechanic who is having to deal with an unreasonable customer. I hope you find satisfaction elsewhere, but don’t count on it.

You have nobody but yourself to blame for mixing coolants. If you had just read the owner’s manual or the printing on the top of the coolant container, you could have avoided this mistake and the repair would probably not be necessary now.

Your mechanic isn’t the only one who knows how to dial a phone. Why didn’t you call before showing up at the shop? I hate this passive-aggressive kind of behavior. It is so immature.

By the way, this whole mistake of yours explains why the Walmart coolant was so much cheaper. You obviously bought the wrong coolant. You saved $20 on coolant, and now you will have to pay through the nose for your mistake.

Remember, the daughter has been driving this car, not me…I’d call the mechanic whenever something seems wrong. She sat at a carwash for 20 minutes, probably with the motor running, by the time she picked up the kid, the car was steaming…she brought it over (I had been told to flush the system by a mechanic I hired off craigslist to change serpentine belt) so I had the stuff. By then the husband shows up and I sent he to get a new hose. I drained the radiator of liquid, used the flush, ran the car, discovered the broken motor mount when I put it in reverse,drained the flush added coolant and called the mechanic. Left it at his shop overnight. And yeah, I bought the cheapest I could find. Does that really matter when you plan on flushing the old out? I’m trying to save myself $$ by doing the work I can myself…there are plenty of ads on craigslist for car repairs…I just panicked when the motor clunked and I don’t have a hoist in my garage.

I’ve read mixing coolants isn’t that big of a deal, it just reduces the life span of the coolant…the hose had a leak and the car overheated…may-be my daughter should pay for the next set of gaskets…you think?

SO you trust the guy who you find on Craig’s list but not your mechanic who is friends with your husband and been servicing your cars for 10 years.

I agree with Whitey, find another mechanic, for your mechanics sake.

I have acorns in my hood, on the engine, under the plastic trim piece on the manifold/head, you name it. I have chased fully grown chipmonks from the hood. Have you seen the space between the inner and outer sheet metal on a hood? The plastic cover on the head is just as small and even though I fish acorns out on a regular basis, I bet dollars to donuts if we pulled it now, you’d find no less than a half dozen under there. I once emptied literally 100s of acorns from the air snorkel on my truck. Perhaps your mechanic is sneaking them into my engine in the hopes he can drum up some business… Now I’ve heard it all. IMO, you’re far too paranoid to have someone else work on your cars. Time to buy some manuals and tools and do the work yourself.

You guys are funny…you spend your days watching for questions from people who honestly don’t know whether their mechanic is doing unnecessary work so you can laugh about their ignorance? I trusted this guy with all our vehicles, from our 63 Ranchero to our 2000 Grand Prix…now he’s got some shameless hussy trying to take my payment that he left his wife for and he won’t even introduce me to her? If he isn’t faithful to his wife, is he going to be faithful to his customers? I’m ashamed for him…and by the way, my guy on craigslist is a Christian.

Finally, an answer. I feel justified…this is what I wanted to hear…if anyone has ever found acorns under the plasic shroud on the engine. It’s just something that drew a red flag…ok? And I still have a problem with the mechanics behavior.

I think we found the root cause of your dislike for your mechanic.

Christians make good carpenters not mechanics.

And I use Amsoil…