Was my mechanic unreasonable?

Brought my car in to deal with vibration problem. Mechanic told me it was the brake caliper and control arm, calipers/rotors/pads and arm need to be replaced on both sides. He also found my valve cover gasket was leaking oil and wanted to replace that too. This I have no problem with. However, when I looked through the parts list later he included (only one) front strut. I haven’t had issues with suspension and when I asked him about it he told me they were ‘sweating’ and should be replaced, and in fact he had ordered two, which wasn’t on my quote. My car is old (250,000) and I’m not going to replace everything that looks worn As I would never stop. I asked him not to do the struts and he responded by canceling the entire order and refusing to work on my car.
The other red flag was ordering two rear sway links when only one was bent, and again it doesn’t affect driving performance so I don’t want to bother. In addition he quoted $140 for the valve cover gasket when everywhere else they’re $30.

Am I in the wrong for asking him not to order the struts? I don’t like to assume the worst but I am wondering if I was paying the young female tax.

Opinions are appreciated

Can you further describe the “vibration problem” When does it occur? While driving, while braking, etc.

And you mention your vehicle is “old” and has 250K miles. What other details do you have, like model, year, that sort of thing. What other maintenance has been done?

Based on what you do say… it wouldn’t surprise me if your vehicle with 250K miles needed some suspension work. But it kinda sounds to me like your mechanic is throwing a lot of parts at the problem. Struts are generally replaced in pairs, as are a lot of suspension/front end pieces. The thinking being that if one side is worn out, the other side is likely about the same condition.

As far as the valve cover gasket… you may have found the gasket itself for $30. But I seriously doubt that $30 includes the labor and expertise to replace it. $140 sounds a lot more appropriate to me, if it includes the mechanic doing the labor.

Finally, I’d say if you don’t like what this mechanic is telling you, go get a second opinion. There are plenty of mechanics out there. Good luck.

The only thing we know about your vehicle is that it has 250k miles on it. All those things could be bad or not. Can’t see it through the internet.

Young female tax, no such thing. There is however a lack of business sense tax and it is levied on young females, old females, young males and old males who lack basic business sense.

The big mistake is not getting second opinions and multiple quotes. Both take time and money but can save you a lot more than they cost.

First step is to get recommendations on good mechanics in your area from friends, family and co-workers. Then look them up on the internet and check them for reviews. Don’t get too wrapped up in negative reviews, almost all mechanics will get one from time to time. A good mechanic is like a good doctor, they will tell you things you don’t want to hear A lot of bad reviews or bad reviews with very specific complaints should not be ignored though. I would also be concerned about someone that only has good reviews, they may have a good lawyer that bullies anyone who tries to leave a bad review.

First thing is to get a second opinion on the diagnosis. This may require a second diagnostic fee, but when you are presented with a large estimate with the first diagnosis, this can be money well spent.

Often the diagnostics will include a lot of stuff that is not really necessary. They are in the “nice to have category” but are not necessary, at least not at this time. Ask to have anything not necessary trimmed from the estimate.

When you ask for a second opinion, do not ask that the first opinion be verified. Just explain the problem and let them figure out what they think needs work. If the estimate is still substantial, you can start asking for more quotes, there should be no charge for a quote. Beware of very low quotes as they maybe using low quality parts.

This is also a good time to evaluate the vehicle and see if you really want to invest that much money into it or use that money toward another vehicle.


I will say that if everything happened as told, it is unreasonable for the mechanic to cancel the entire job just because you wanted to hold off on replacing a “sweaty” strut when the objective was to eliminate a vibration… Which a worn strut is not going to cause.

The sway bar links absolutely do affect driving performance. If you remove them, the stabilizer bar is just a hunk of metal that sits there doing nothing. They often come in pairs, so if he were to only replace one, he’d be stealing a part from you (because you’re paying for the other one when he orders it). It takes around 10 minutes to install one, so you aren’t being charged much more to do both.

As to the valve cover gasket, is that $140 the price only for the part, or installed? If it’s only for the part… Yeah, that’s high compared to $30. But it’s never a good idea to look at places like Rockauto and then wonder why your mechanic is charging so much more. First, he’s entitled to a profit on things he buys for the job, just like a store is entitled to profit on the things they buy and then sell to you. Second, part of that price is the fact that if the gasket leaks again, he’s on the hook to replace it throughout the warranty period. Things with install warranties cost more than things without them, and he’s going to want to get a higher-average-quality part to start with because he does not want to have to do the work again for free.

Now, if you presented this laundry list of things you’re suspicious about rather than just telling him “let’s wait on the struts,” then it doesn’t surprise me that he cancelled the job, as you would then be presenting yourself as a potential major pain in the butt, and sometimes it’s easier just to refuse to do the work than deal with the constant nitpicking.

Car is 2006 Santa Fe. I’m not disputing his diagnostic of the shaking - the brake has seized and the control arm was flexing, causing the car to shudder whether I was cruising, accelerating, braking, or had the clutch in. Fine. My issue was that he ordered things that weren’t on the quote and we hadn’t discussed. The $140 was just for the part.

I’ve taken a car in to get work done, had my dad go in to look at it, same conversation and bam, $100+ cheaper. It happens.

You don’t have to pay for anything that you did not approve of. That is the law. I suggest that you find a different mechanic in the future.