Who pays?

An employee of our mechanic lives next door.

A month ago the starter went on our 1996 Nissan, in our driveway-6 miles from town.

“NO PROB!” he says “I’ll fix it here! Save you 1/2 the cost!!! No towing charges!!!”

(we, thankfully, have a second car)

So, we agreed…2 weeks & $275 later we get the car back…

The muffler was loose, the bumpers are a bit skewed, but the car started fine.

FFW to this morning: 10 miles from home at a gas station. Shut the car off & it wouldn’t start up again. Same symptoms as before. Got juice, no crank. (yes, all the wires are intact& clean)

This time it was tow truck to our garage 15 miles away.

One of the things on the list for the garage to fix is the loose muffler.

Husband says it is not the driveway mechanic’s fault & I say it is.

Husband says: driveway mechanic may have gotten a bad part & maybe the muffler was just coming loose, anyway.


Did you show him bumpers and muffler before you left his driveway? If not that means it could have happened later.
when it started fine when you picked it up and you drove away he was in the clear.

I did show him the bumpers when he brought it back to us & he shrugged.
The muffler noise wasn’t obvious until we drove it the next night. We’re 3rd shift people, so the car didn’t get driven until 11:30 PM.

Come to think of it, the last time he worked on one of our cars, in our driveway, he replaced brakes & ditched the car at the end of our driveway, during a “test drive”. he had a friend tow the car out & was a bit shamefaced when we noticed that the car had been ditched & towed…

LIVE & LEARN, I guess…

I’m wondering if he’s doing shoddy work like this in my/his driveway, what’s he doing at work?

It’s impossible to say about the muffler and bumpers, but it’s possible that the starter could have been a misdiagnosis to begin with.

If the original problem was utter silence when the key was turned to the START position maybe the problem was not the starter itself but a faulty neutral safety switch or clutch switch, depending on transmission type.

Hmmmmm…forgot neutral switch…
however, jiggling steering wheel, moving shift lever (auto) didn’t help.
When first diagnosed, a good smack on the starter (requiring a long stick & piece of 4x4) worked. hence the starter diagnosis.
Now I’m thinking back to a similar problem with another car…even though the battery cables were clean & looked good & we had lighs, it turned out to be the cables, not the starter.
Thanks for making me think!!!

Its not unheard of to get a faulty rebuilt starter especially if he got it from Autozone or similar. Also on some cars a portion of the exhaust needs to be removed to gain access to the starter. At any rate if it is the part itself that is bad, it should have a guarantee but think for the labor, towing, etc. you are on your own. Also if it is a bad part, I’m not sure I would want to invest the labor in another part from the same place. Sounds like he needs a lot of supervision and now you have learned not to use him again.

According to him it was a NAPA part. He doesn’t trust Auto Zone either.
And it was a NEW starter, since he doesn’t trust re-builts.

yes, once burned 2x shy.
Do I tell his boss?

“Do I tell his boss?”

Well, let’s see. This apparently not-fully competent mechanic is the employee of the guy to whom you normally go for maintenance and repairs. If you tell the boss, then you will not exactly endear yourself to either the boss or the employee. Having a good “relationship” with your mechanic is important, as is having a peaceful relationship with a neighbor. Telling the boss about this experience will likely sour your relationship with the boss and may result in the neighbor losing his job. Unless you want to find a new place for maintaining and repairing your cars, and unless you want to have an ongoing war with a neighbor, I would suggest that you stay silent on this matter.

Although this guy ditched your car previously, due to his poor work or his poor driving, you decided to hire him again–apparently in order to get a cheap repair job. This might be your opportunity to learn that cheap repairs and good repairs don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. I think that should chalk this up to experience, stay silent about this situation, and not patronize this “bargain” shade-tree mechanic again.

Loose muffler is just that, if the car is older than 5 years old no surprise and your dime.

The starter problem you can kindly ask. But remember that 2-3x more expensive charge at dealer/garage covers these incidentals. You took the risk and unfortunately it did not work out. I would not get too upset this is your neighbor and you have to live with them.

i personally wouldn’t be too hard on the guy. you paid WAY less, going to him, and if you went to the dealership you would have paid WAY more, and then had to pay WAY more again for the re repair, since they would undoubtably have found something else to ‘fix’ to place blame on something else.

as another said, you gambled on getting it done on the cheap, and it didnt work out in your favor, now you have to pay the rest (that you could have saved) to get it completely repaired.

why oh why would you talk to the boss at the guys shop??? you went to the neighbors house, spoke to him on his off time, and made a ‘gentlemans’ agreement. how is this in ANY way shape or form got anything to do with his real job?? yes he does do this for a living, but, this was between you and he. this has NOTHING to do with the shop.

maybe you now know why there are so many problems with repairs at ANY mechanic shop. here is an example of a known mechanic at a known shop, who cant seem to get a repair (or repairs) done properly, and these are typical examples of sooooo many mechanics. sometimes we get these repairs done on a ‘bad day’ and other times it seems each and every day is a bad day!

Totally agree. This guy is moonlighting and taking money away from his employer with your help. You wanted a bargain and got what you paid for.

Stealing your bosses customers,not a good career move,tell the boss,no.Don’t use him again.I concede you have been “punished” enough for your employee stealing escapade.In the car business this activity is known as “curbing” (when the mechanic or salesman steals work from the company,not good)

As always, VDC… well put and wise.

Well, the whole thing came out yesterday, when the boss called to tell me that I needed a starter.
I suggested he talk to employee, since he’d replaced it for me 3 weeks ago, in my driveway.
(I figured the employee could take the defective part back & I wouldn’t have to pay for yet another starter.)
“Oh really?” Says the boss.
I’ll check with employee, then.

5 minute later boss calls back:
“Employee says he DID NOT replace the starter, just tweeked some wires for you. Do you want the starter or not?”

Musta’ been one hell of a bunch of wires he ‘tweeked’, since it cost me $230!!

“not my problem. do I order the starter or not?”

I sat down, put my head on my knees & asked how much.
"Well, with the towing and all…$290, have it ready for you on Friday…"
Oh, frog…put the starter in & tell employee that I’d like to ‘chat’ with him.
“Oh, no, ma’am. I’m staying out of this. But he is running a fine line with us.& this isn’t the first time…”

My “cheap” starter job has cost me $520…

Now my question is: WHO is this guy lying to? Me or his boss.

You have a problem unless “employee” wrote up a ticket and you got a receipt for the parts, labor and tax paid on the repair. Employee is undermining his boss’s business by doing work on the side without boss’s knowledge (until now). He is lying to his boss to protect his job and if your car still had the old starter in it, he lied to you to get your money. Or, boss is lying to you to get the value of the repair he would have gotten had you gone to him in the first place. Sounds like a mess where everybody loses. You because you overpaid, the employee because he is likely to be fired at the first opportunity, and the owner of the shop because he is likely to lose your business.

My best guess (and it is just a guess) is that your neighbor lied to you and pocketed a lot of extra cash. Then again, maybe he decided to tell his boss that he just “tweaked some wires” because that would sound more like someone who was just helping a neighbor, rather than stealing business from his boss. Either way, I think that your desire to spend as little as possible has trumped good judgment in how you responded to the boss. I am also thrifty, but… Your reporting of the situation to the boss and as a result, the possible fallout of “outing” your neighbor can result in some really bad things.

I know that this is “Tuesday morning quarterbacking”, but you should have kept silent with the boss and taken up the topic of whether the starter was replaced or not, in private, with the neighbor. That way, he might be more likely to keep his job, and you might have been more likely to get some money back from the neighbor.

Now, the cat is out of the bag, and you will lose from every perspective. I hope for your sake that the neighbor can keep his job, and if he does lose his job, that he doesn’t have a problem with anger management. Being at war with a neighbor is an incredibly stressful situation that can go on and on and on…

So, in response to the title of this thread, YOU will pay far more than you expected to, as a result of this situation and the way that you handled it. Sorry to give you this prediction, but you did want opinions, and this is mine.