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When repairs go wrong - Advice needed!

My 2010 Terrain SLE was acting wrong so I took it into a local shop. They said that it needed a $500 rear brake job and $2500 timing chains. We had them do the brake job, but decided to shop around for quote on the timing chains. Ultimately, my spouse decided that we would go to a big, national chain because they offered financing and we weren’t prepared to spend $3,000 out of pocket for car repairs. We dropped it off on Tuesday morning (I arrived before they opened and beat the manager). The manager informed me that he expected that the work would be completed by the end of the day (6pm when the shop closed). At 2:30, I called to confirm the price of the work and the manager informed me that it was “too big of a job” and there was “no way” it would be completed that day. He told me it would ABSOLUTELY be done the following day. I called in the morning and asked for an estimated time to expect the car to be done. I informed him that I needed to know ASAP if I was going to need to arrange alternative transportation to get me from work to pick up my children by the time daycare closed at 5:30. He agreed, but told me he didn’t have an estimated time yet as the mechanic wasn’t yet in. I called again at 4:00 to see if I was going to be able to pick up my car at 5:00. He told me “There’s no way it’s going to be done by 5. But, we are staying here until it’s done.” I expressed my frustration in him not giving me the time I had requested to plan transportation, but thanked him for his commitment to getting the work done. At 7:00, he called and left a message stating that the repairs were complete but that “something” wasn’t right. He said they needed to get another part and that it would be done the following day. When I attempted to call back, there was no answer. I called the next morning and was told by a DIFFERENT manager that he had “no idea” what was going on with my car and the technician wasn’t in yet. We finally spoke with the technician who said that he “thought” it was a gasket, but he had to tear it all apart again. He said that it could be just a couple more hours or, worst case scenario, by the end of the day. He then informed us that it was a “huge learning curve” because he had never worked on this type of engine before. We tracked down the district manager who apologized and, when we stated we should have been informed BEFORE work started that the technician hadn’t worked on a car like ours before, agreed that we should have been given different expectations about timing and ability. I called again around 3:30 and was told AGAIN that the car would not be done by the end of the day. We were informed that “he got it all back together and timing is still off” so he had torn it all back apart. At this point, they agreed to supply a rental car. We are now on day four of what we were told would be a one day repair with no end in sight. They only communicate when I go around the shop manager and speak to the district manager. Do I have any other option but just continue to wait on them?? Is there any recourse for us? Any advice would be helpful as I am just at a loss.

The first red flag was when they said it would be one day. The parts are a fraction of the quoted amount so the rest is labor. One person all day does not price out at $2000.

What price did they quote for the job?

The original quote was $2200. Hindsight is everything. I should have checked into price parts v labor, I suppose. But, of course I did not. I took them at their word. (And assumed-incorrectly of course- they would have informed me if they didn’t have a mechanic that was familiar with the job).

Unfortunately, we all learn by being burned at some point. Do you have their quote handy? It should list parts and labor estimates on it. With this kind of work, it’s really one person doing it so not like you can put 9 people on a baby and get it in one month instead of 9 :wink:


Paragraphs: All the cook kids use them.

I’m really curious what symptom(s) led your mechanic to think there was an issue with the timing chain. I was under the impression that timing chains rarely ever need to be replaced (unlike timing belts), and generally when a timing chain goes, the engine is toast.

It may be water under the bridge now… but still puzzling.

Problems with those GM timing chains are fairly common.

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If the engine wasn’t toast before, it may be now. I believe that the mechanic screwed-up the valve timing, and if this is an interference engine, there may now be some bent valves.

My heart dropped when I read that. You made the best decision you could based on what you knew, but “Big national chains” that offer financing should be avoided at all costs.

Honestly, they’ve had plenty of time to fix it. I think it’s time to contact a lawyer. Before you do, put the details into an organized, articulate complaint.

Also submit your complaint to your state’s Consumer Affairs department of your State Attorney General’s Office. More than one serious problem has been immediately solved by them, and if they find a pattern there could be serious consequences for the franchise owner.


I took it in because it was shuddering when it idled and having a hard time accelerating. The timing chain wasn’t broken when we took it in. The original mechanic said that it was going to be a problem in the future. After lots of research, it looked to me like timing chains on GMC Terrains seem to cause lots of problems. We have two kids and I didn’t want to risk the chains (apparently there are 4?!) breaking while I was driving. The last think I wanted to do was destroy the engine, so I decided to get it fixed preemptively.

Every time I call, it seems like the mechanic has put it back together and it wasn’t running “right”, so he took it back apart. When I called this morning, he said that one chain had been put on slightly incorrectly. I’m very worried that, if they ever do give it back to me, that there will be damage that they haven’t caught - that they caused with all of their attempts at fixing it.

I have started working on an organized, formal complaint with dates and detailed information. I hadn’t thought about the Consumer’s Affairs Department, but that’s a good idea.

I drove past the garage an hour ago and saw my car still in the bay, up in the air yet again. The sun is about to set on day 4 in the shop. I’ll have everything documented by Monday. Do I have any legal recourse here? If they call me and tell me it’s done, they aren’t going to give me the keys until I pay them. I’m afraid of paying for the work and then having it break down on me and the kids!

Not true at all. Proper maintenance a modern engine can easily go 300k+ miles. After a while a timing chain starts to stretch and may need replacing before or shortly after the 300k miles…but there’s a good chance you’ll hear the chain start to rattle before it starts to slip.

A timing chain job on a modern engine is often complicated so the first problem was their promising it by day end.

I also tend to agree with VDCdriver about the possibility of bent valves due to the chains being incorrectly installed.

It’s been my experience that in most cases if the timing chains are worn out then the rest of the engine is not far far behind. Irregular oil changes are the usual culprit.

It’s also possible you were the victim of an incorrect diagnosis. If the chains weren’t rattling then I would have looked elsewhere for the cause of poor running.

Without hands on your car I can’t really tell you what’s going on but it certainly doesn’t sound good and the gut feeling is that this is going to lead to some push and shove. They may end up buying you another engine.

At any rate, as a non mechanic, and one who waited 7 weeks for a transmission overhaul that was supposed to take a week, being a few days late on a repair is not a major offense. You chose the shop for poor reasons. That’s what credit cards are for or overdraft accounts. At any rate at this point you need to take care of your own transportation for at least a few days and let them deal with the issue. If they did major damage, they will need to cover it and you’ll need the temporary transportation even longer.

Once they throw their hands up or there is damage done, then you can take it to someone else to have it properly fixed and charge them for the damage. If they don’t pay, then you can go to small claims court for a judgement. The law is that when a repair is not done properly, your obligation is to give them the opportunity to correct it. If they don’t then you are free to have it corrected somewhere else at their expense. But you have to give them the chance. Being a nation-wide chain, they should have insurance at least.

Apparently, this wasn’t GM’s best V6. Far from it, in fact

We have access to the GM factory website at work, and over the years, I have seen a LOT of information about that engine. Campaigns, customer satisfaction, recall, tsbs, etc.

And it seems this engine has had some serious mechanical problems, right from the start, all the way through the end of production. And it’s not just the chains wearing out

I agree that the chain shop wasn’t the best choice for this particular repair. This is probably way more complicated, versus their more typical brake jobs, tires and ac recharges

That particular shop should never have agreed to the repair. Auto repair shops . . . and other businesses, for that matter . . . do occasionally turn away work, and often for very good reasons. It’s important to be able to recognize when you’re not set up to do a job, whatever the exact reason may be

And yes, the learning curve can be quite steep. Every mechanic has had a first time for certain types of jobs, and they probably took longer, and/or made mistakes. It doesn’t necessarily mean the guy is incompetent. It means he’s human. Now, if he makes the exact same mistakes time and time again, maybe it’s time to let him go, because he can’t or won’t learn. Or you could do what some service managers, dispatchers, etc. do, which is to take steps that certain mechanics NEVER get assigned the more difficult repairs. That last one has its pros and cons, though

I wonder how many time the words “Avoid national chains for auto repairs” have been repeated on this site? Must be in 3 digits by now.


Sorry you had that difficulty OP, sounds very frustrating. I think you just got the wrong shop involved is the main problem. The best way to find a shop is to ask friends, co-workers, relatives, fellow church goes, fellow bar goers, anybody you have a friendship with, ask them which shop they use. From that list choose one that specializes in your make, and tell the shop owner which customer of theirs it was that recommended you to them. That gives you a little leverage, as they’ll want to go out of their way to do a good job for you, b/c they don’t want to offend their other customer. As you probably expect, it is best to do this before you need a big job done. Like for an oil change or a brake job. That way you and the shop can calibrate with each other, understand each other’s expectations, etc. And the shop will have started a file on you, so they’ll have a record of everything they’ve done for your car.

Timing chain is a big job, so it isn’t surprising it took longer than expected. Hope you got it all resolved by now. Best of luck.