What happened here?

Ok, first let me say I don’t know much about cars (which will probably be obvious when you read this).Here’s my story: I take my daughter’s 2000 Mitsubishi eclipse GT in to get a timing belt replaced as the car has 85,000 miles and we just bought it in February. When we bought it, the check engine light came on. Oil was leaking in the # 2 cylinder and shorting out the plug. The seller put in a new gasket, new wires, points etc. but (as I would find out later) only replaced the #2 plug. After these repairs were made in February, the car ran fine and I have put 2000 miles or so on it. So last week I take it to another place for a timing belt. The cost is $500. They call me to say the cam seals are leaking and they can replace them for another $600. I decline that repair figuring that maybe all cam seals leak on higher mileage cars (hey you can’t see them unless you are changing the timing belt). I pick up the car and drive it home. Later that evening my daughter starts up the car and it is misfiring. She drives 200 feet and the check engine light comes on. I take it back to the dealer figuring the belt slipped and they will fix it free. They call the next day and say the code is 0300-random misfire, but they checked the belt and it is perfect. He asks my about the plugs as they took out the front 3 and 2 look old but 1 looks new. He says they can get me new plugs and factory wires for another $600. Their advertised price is $299 for a 6 cyl tune up. So what happened here? Is it a coincidence that I drove the car since February with no problems and my plugs and/or wires happened to go bad the same day as the timing belt was changed or did the belt slip and they started looking for other things to charge me since they had to put it back on or what? Thanks!

My first comment is that 600 dollars is a bit much for cam seals since the shop is already in there anyway. If the cam seals are leaking then they should have been replaced though. And hopefully the belt tensioners/water pump was also replaced at the same time.

The original seller made a mistake by not replacing all of the plugs at once and if the seller replaced the wires only a few thousand miles back the wires should not need replacement now.

The belt did not slip and it’s near impossible to be certain about what is going on presently. Either the timing belt was installed incorrectly on the marks (how in the world does a tech run a car out the door like this and why is it not caught by a service advisor who prepares the paperwork) or it’s simply a matter of the other old plugs breaking down. It happens.
Given my choice between one or the other I tend to think maybe the belt was off the marks but have no way of knowing for sure.

Hope some of that helps.

They said the water pump looked fine so they didn’t replace it. I’m not sure about the belt tensioner. Yeah, why in the world the first place would take the time to put in new wires and points and new gasket but only replace one plug is beyond me. I guess they were just focused on the repair itself. I’m not real happy with either place, guess I need to find a different garage. Thanks for your input!

So you could have new cam seals for $600 or new plugs and wires for $600…

…sounds like someone is late on their monthly $600 boat payment.

Find another shop.

Well, Bush did want us to spend, not save, our tax rebates so you can’t blame me if the economy stays sour. I’ve done my part!

Leave that shop! There is something smelly going on! Where does one start on this problem?!
This is a V6 engine, right? It has two camshafts. When the timing belt is removed, the repair manual instructs to inspect each camshaft oil seal, and the crankshaft oil seal, for leaking; and, to replace them if they are leaking. The better shops, such as ok4450’s shop, always change these oil seals, the tensioner, and the water pump as part of every timing belt change, at no additional charge. The proposed additional charge of $600 dollars for the oil seals is ridiculous. The oil seals may not be leaking (Do you detect a little distrust, here?).
SPARK PLUGS: The #2, #4, #6 spark plugs are at the front of the engine compartment, and are easily accessible. That would be (one reason) why only a front spark plug was replaced. To change #1, #3, #5 spark plugs, the repair manual instructs to remove the upper intake manual, and etc., for access to those spark plugs on the side of the engine next to the firewall. As on other V6 engines, I have been able to avoid removing the intake manifold (and etc.) by removing the alternator and bracket, and some other component in the way (fairly easy removeals) and go in from the side of the engine bay (front of the engine) to get to the spark plugs. I think that this less labor, simpler, cheaper, way could be done on your Eclipse. $150 should be enough, this way. $600 is too much their way.

Yes, it’s a V6. I questioned the service advisor about the seals as the vehicle isn’t leaking any oil and I haven’t noticed it using any oil (not to mention not wanting to pay an additional $600). He said it is probably being burned up. Because the dipstick level hasn’t changed, I figured it couldn’t be leaking much oil (if at all).

You’re being “took”. Find a more reputable shop. New plug wires needed again so soon? A simple resistance test on each wire will tell you the condition of the wires’ internal conductors. Check books for the correct resistance ratings usually given in k-ohms per inch or foot. Of course, do a careful visual inspection of the outer jacket wires for cracking or splitting. Wanna know if your wires are cracked? In a dark place, pop the hood while the engine is running. Look for sparklies around the wires grounding out on engine components. Check very carefully around the insulating boots at each end of each wire. A notorious place for sparklies is at the spark plug boot where the sparklies jump from the spark plug wire connector through cracks of the rubber boot and jump to the engine block or metal heat shields (if equipped) around the end of the spark plugs.

For getting to those hard-to-reach plugs, longer spark plug sockets are available. They’re like 4" or 4-1/2" long. Combined with a ‘universal’ joint-type socket fitting, I’ve been able to get to any spark plug I’ve ever encountered. Just make sure that the spark plug gap is correct. A lot of modern plugs now get gapped at .060 inches, not the old standards of .026 to .035. Another little spark plug trick that I’ve used for years is to put just a drop of engine oil on the spark plug threads prior to installation. It helps to keep you from cross-threading the plugs and aids in easier loosening of the plugs upon future plug removal. To start the spark plugs into their holes, always start them by hand. Use an about 3/8" piece of fuel line stuck over the plug’s ceramic insulator to start the plugs in those hard-to-reach areas.

Figure no more than about $5 each for plugs. (Depends on what type of plugs you buy, i.e.: platinum, etc.). About $45 (at most!) for a quality set of plug wires. So you have maybe $75 invested in the parts. Don’t forget a round wire feeler gauge set containing the size feeler for your plugs. So maybe $80 bucks? Changing out the plugs and replacing wires—maybe an hour and a half at most? And they advertise a 6-cyl. tune-up for $299? But they actually want $600 just because “while we’re at it—”? Run like he77!

You mentioned “points” twice. If they told you they were replaced, they are lying. This engine is, ahem, “pointless”.

Find another place for service, pronto.

I might be wrong on the points, I’ll look at the repair bill. I know they put in a new gasket, new wires and one (shaking my head) spark plug.

It wasn’t points the first place put in, it was a new rotor and cap in addition to the gaskets, wires and plug. I haven’t worked on cars since they were a whole lot easier to work on and had points on the brain. Looks like the repair order from the second place lists a timing belt only, no tensioner. I guess a person really needs to research this stuff before they authorize it huh. I took it to the dealer figuring I might have to pay a little more but at least I’ll know it will be done right since they work on these cars all the time. Man was I wrong, lesson learned. Thanks everyone for your help.