Bad Mechanics

Peacefrog53

New member
Not XJ related, but still Jeep related. Had a question for you guys. My good friend took his 2005 Cherokee (3.7 V6 appx. 130,XXX) over to repair shop for a no-start issue. I told him since the battery was new, and tested good, and that the car just wouldn't do anything except make a little click once, that is was most likely the starter. I hit the key a few times over and over to try and get some voltage built up to get the solenoid to fire, and it did. Turned the truck off then tried again, and it took a few try's, but fired up. I then tried to jump the starter the old fashioned way with a jumper across the terminals, and just got a light click..once. There was no check engine light, and no current codes.

So he took the truck to a shop called "Brake Depot" in Santa Ana. They said he had a CEL on, and that it read a misfire in cyl#6. The tech there said he replaced the spark plug wires, and it was fine. That's funny because with that engine they have coil-on plugs....no distributor or spark plug wires. My friend drove the car home, about 2 miles from the shop, and he said it started running really rough. He didn't even stop at the house, just drove it right back to the shop. The owner then tells him that there is a leak from his water pump, which wasn't there when he took the car to the shop originally, and that there is very low coolant in the truck. My friend left the truck there overnight for the shop to diagnose the problem. The next day he received a phone call from the shop saying that he had a blown head gasket. They quoted him about $1K for the repair, and said it would be ready in a week. The week went by....and another....and finally got another phone call from the shop. "Your cylinder head is cracked, and we are trying to find another one". Once I heard all of this I told him to have the shop put everything back the way it was, and get it out of there.

Mind you he took the car in for a no-start issue, to a brake shop....first bad idea in my opinion. Got soaked for $200 for "spark plug wires" which are non-existent, then gets told it's a bad water pump, then there is no coolant in the car, then a blown head gasket, and now a cracked head that they can't seem to find. The truck ran, and drove, perfectly fine, when it would start. The problem was getting it to start.

After checking with the Bureau of Automotive Repair I discovered his license expired in October of this year. Maybe he just hasn't gotten around to renewing it. The shop is not STAR certified, and it looks like their SMOG license has expired, yet they have a 0.81% re-test pass rate... weird. Most reviews of the shop are about them overcharging unsuspecting customers, and replacing parts that don't fix the problems.

What do you guys think about this? I told him to contact the BAR and ask them, before confronting the shop owner. Most likely the owner is going to try and soak him for the cost of the repairs, which I'm sure will exceed the $1K estimate.

I've been working on cars and trucks for most of my life, and have a few ASE certs, so I'm not THAT dumb when it comes to repairs, and this sounds a little fishy to me. I haven't actually laid eyes on the truck since it was brought to this shop, so this is all just from my friend. However, I have worked on his truck, and he is a co-worker of mine, so I see the truck all the time. I drove the truck two days prior to this whole fiasco, and did a once over for him, as he was going to be taking a long drive, and everything checked out fine, including all of the fluids. No leaks, no crap in the engine bay, no CEL. Just a bad starter that I didn't want to replace due to time.

What do you guys think?
 

WAZZUXJ

NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
I was looking to by a WK Grand Cherokee a few years ago and found that the "intermitent start" was a common issue over several years and models. IIRC, it was a computer problem.

If your buddy authorized the work for the "blown head gasket", then I would think he may be still responsible for that bill. Unless he can prove otherwise.
 

JohnX

Sarge <3 Ben
NAXJA Member
Sorry to say, but it sounds like your friend is a little slow. And the shop saw him coming. If he okayed the repairs they suggested, not much he can do. Its an expensive lesson. I here this story time and time again,it really sucks that there are so many shops out there who's common practice is to sell unrequired repairs :-(

Wazzuxj beat me.
 

Peacefrog53

New member
Ok after reading what I wrote, it looks like I left out a little tid bit of important info.

When he took the truck right back, and they said it was the water pump, they suggested a new radiator, water pump, and T-Stat. He authorized THOSE specific repairs only. He then called them back a few days later to check on progress, and they informed him of the bad head gasket, and the cracked head.

So it kind of sounds like they did some more "diagnosing" and took the head off, without asking him.

I totally agree with both of you about learning a lesson, and this kind of stuff happens A LOT, but what can someone do about it? This is unacceptable, both legally and morally. Just file a complaint with the BAR, and give them a bad review on Yelp?

Does CA have someone who polices this kind of stuff other than the BAR? It looks like they can't do a whole lot except fine the shop, and possibly revoke a delinquent license. Then that starts a whole "doing business without proper licensing" thing which even still happens all over.

Maybe we need a Consumer Automotive Repair Consultant which can give an estimate for repairs to the vehicle owner, but won't actually do the repairs. Just tell them what they should expect to pay, and what needs to be fixed, then refers them to a certified reputable shop nearby?
 

peterjford

NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Peacefrog53;246166769 Maybe we need a Consumer Automotive Repair Consultant which can give an estimate for repairs to the vehicle owner said:
It's sad that so many people, especially ones rely on their cars and don't have money to waste on unnecessary repairs, can spend so much time online doing social media but won't spend the time to find an online source for this kind of advice. I do all my own repairs, but I always check online first for help with diagnostics and, sometimes more importantly, how much it would have cost if I took it to a shop to have the work done so I can explain to my wife that I spend the day working on the car to save us $$$$.
 

Goatman

NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Your friend is only responsible for the repairs, and the dollar amount, that he authorized. If the heads are off, and he didn't authorize that work, then he has to call the BAR and get it worked out. The BAR is the regulating agency, and you really don't need anything else, they will get it resolved, but it might take some time.

No reason to lump all shops together as bad, most shops out there are honest and do good work. I own a shop, and the biggest single source of business is repeat customers and referrals. It is a bad business plan to cheat people and do bad work. The best thing you can do is check reviews on the shop before you go. The good shops have plenty of good reviews. Best way is to do the search as "shop name" reviews, or just search auto repair reviews for your area.
 

Peacefrog53

New member
Your friend is only responsible for the repairs, and the dollar amount, that he authorized. If the heads are off, and he didn't authorize that work, then he has to call the BAR and get it worked out. The BAR is the regulating agency, and you really don't need anything else, they will get it resolved, but it might take some time.

No reason to lump all shops together as bad, most shops out there are honest and do good work. I own a shop, and the biggest single source of business is repeat customers and referrals. It is a bad business plan to cheat people and do bad work. The best thing you can do is check reviews on the shop before you go. The good shops have plenty of good reviews. Best way is to do the search as "shop name" reviews, or just search auto repair reviews for your area.


By no means am I including all shops in this, because I know first hand that there are a lot of VERY qualified shops, that provide excellent customer service, and stand by there work. However, with that said, the adverse is obviously that there are a lot of very bad shops out there as well.

From what you guys have said, it seems as though it would be the BAR's duty to discipline these shops, but they don't know which shops to investigate until someone comes forth and mentions it. Meaning it's the consumers duty to report it.

I myself would LOVE to start a shop one day, and am acquiring my credentials to do so currently, but it seems a distant dream from where I stand right now unfortunately.

Thank you all very much for the help. I will give my buddy all the info that you've provided, and see if he can't work something out. Along with a swift kick in the pants for not researching the shop prior to this fiasco. :twak:

A useful tidbit of info that I found online is repairpal.com It's a repair estimating webpage that gives you a price range for the repairs that your interested in, along with recommending a local shop to perform the repairs. Pass it along to family and friends that are less mechanically inclined, and more prone to making uneducated mistakes. I know a few and will definitely be informing them.
 
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