what's the worst you've been fucked over by a mechanic?

There have to be some killer stories out there.

Here’s mine; my wife and I were young, broke, and it showed. My beater had a recurring coolant leak, causing it to overheat. Naturally, it was our only car, and I relied on it to get to work. I kept taking it to a Midas to get it fixed - I figured that since they were a national chain, there would be more of a sense of accountability and honesty (you can see where this is going) than an independent local place.

Of course, the leak “magically” kept coming back - first it was this that needed to be replaced, then it was that, then it was this. Over the course of two months, I put about $1500 into it in high-interest credit card debt. Hey, we were broke and I had to get to work.

A few months later, we moved to a different town, and the leak came back. I took it to a new, independent mechanic, who found the real source of the leak - a hairline fracture on the coolant reservoir that has very obviously been patched several times. That’s right - the Midas fucker had been selling me expensive, unnecessary repairs and secretly patching the crack to temporarily stop the leak. Replacing the entire reservoir would have only been a $20 job to begin with!

I was considering taking legal action, but when I called the Midas with my case, it turned out that several other complaints had arisen and the guy had been fired. And since the unnecessary repairs and replacements had actually been done (just weren’t needed), I let it go.

Now, I want to hear your stories. Tell me about the time a mechanic screwed you over!

Got a flat, called AAA, the guy who came busted a lug nut, said I’d need to have the tire removed back at the shop, got towed there, the guy said it would be a lot of money to remove all the rusted lug nuts, $250 (I was in a rush and in retrospect very stupid) and it would be cash only (see previous parenthesis), I got the money from a nearby ATM, drove my car home, and within two days developed some severe transmission trouble that my own mechanic said looked like the car had been tampered with deliberately. I gave the car away to charity the next week.

AAA didn’t believe me when I told them about the repair shop that screwed me over, either.

I took my car to a local shop because it would bnot start. the idiot “mechanic” there BURNED out the starter! I had to apy him to put a new starter in…then the alternator failed-he replaced it with a rebuilt alternator that failed just after the 30-day warranty. Stupid moron-this guy went out of business soon after.

Since he was working for a large corporation, why would he do that? Are they paid on some sort of weird commission where they get a percentage of whatever the hell your bill comes to or something? I mean, I can understand an entrepreneurial mechanic doing that but just some grease monkey?


Jeep delership. Took my CJ in for new bearings on all 4 wheels. When I got it back it was acting funny. I put it up on the lift and found that the left rear wheel had about a 1 inch side to side wobble. Damn thing was ready to fall off. The hub was bad and axle was bad. Could have killed me.

I called the dealership, they claimed that they warned me about it and I declined having it repaired. They had never informed me about anything.

I could not find my receipt. I told them this. So I asked for a copy of it. Sure enough, on their copy, the hub and axle where mentioned. What could I do.

Then I found my copy of the receipt. There was NO MENTION OF THE HUB OR AXLE ON MY ORIGINAL. They forged the damn receipt.

I contested all charges through VISA and they did not get a dime.

Time to fix the leak - 10 minutes -

Time to fix all the other stuff - hours and hours of labor dollars -
If I remember correctly, Midas employess get XX amount of dollars wage out of every labor hour they bill out - for example if mechanic Jeff changes a starter, MIDAS bills the customer for one labor hour ( $89 ) the mechanic gets his hourly wage ($30.00 ) from that . If mechanic Jeff keeps changing other parts, alternator, distributor cap, etc he gets to keep on making his hourly wage. If he does a quick 10 minute job and the customer only gets billed for half an hour labor, the mechanic is not going to make his full hourly wage. In shops that aren’t as busy mechanic Jeff may be a little more dishonest and “create” more problems or “fix” things that don’t need to be fixed.

Does that make sense?

A few years ago I bought a used car and took it to a well-known national brake shop for a brake inspection. They looked at it and came out and told me I needed a THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of brakes. I then took it to a small local mechanic and he took me back to the garage and showed me how much brakes I had left on the car. I didn’t need new brakes at all. Drove another year on those brakes, I did, and I’ll never go to another chain for anything car-wise again. Bastards.

In response to Midas service I had always heard that the mechanics are paid some form of commision on the parts that they sell and replace. They are “encouraged” to try to get as much as the customer will bear if possible. I didn’t really believe it until I got some huge repair estimates from them in the past. You won’t see me in a Midas shop.

I accidentally drove up onto a curb to avoid being hit by a Greyhound bus that did not understand the meaning of the yield sign, and loosened a few bolts and created a small/medium rip in the plastic undercarriage.

It cost me $6,000, and the insurance company did not cover one dime. :rolleyes:

In 1993 I had the head gaskets replaced on my ancient '78 Cadillac. The cost wasn’t outrageous (only $700) but the mechanic took his own sweet time fixing it, over several weeks and quite a few angry phone calls. I told him in no uncertain terms that I would never be using his services again.

Afterwards, the car picked up an intermittent and very subtle vibration, which I tried to have looked at but it was too small and random for anyone else to even detect. Thought it was my own paranoia, until everything on the car started to break at once. Brakes, axle, water pump, more than $2500 in repairs over a short period of time, including many parts that had been recently replaced. And the “vibrations” were becoming stronger and more frequent.

Then my roommate noticed a round piece of metal floating freely on the crankshaft. It turned out to be the “vibration dampener”, a donut-shaped thingy that’s supposed to counterbalance the engine’s harmonics and make sure the car doesn’t, you know, vibrate itself to pieces. Everyone I talked to about it said that it was highly unusual for that part to come loose – unless someone tampered with it. And the mechanic who fixed it also had to re-tighten all the screws and bolts under the hood, including many that were just about to pop off. Another few months, he said, and the engine could have fallen out! :eek:

It seemed pretty clear who was responsible. But when I called the original shop and asked for the guy, the other mechanics got really nervous and hung up. Eventually I convinced them I was a “friend” who had “a really big job for him,” and they said he’d moved to Arizona, though they didn’t know exactly where. Based on their reactions, I’d wager they’d been getting MANY angry phone calls from other customers he’d screwed over…

In a way, you gotta admire this guy’s psychotic behavior. Disabling the car in a way that’s very hard to detect, but causes tremendous destruction as it sends constant vibrations to all corners of the vehicle. It’s doubly satisfying that the guy’s on the run. Oh, and the car ran perfectly fine for quite a few years after that.

After returning to Canadian Tire to assess why my steering pulled to the left, and then to the right after having struts replaced I sat in the waiting room, wandered, ate and kept myself busy for the approximate “one hour to one hour and a half” of time needed to finish the job.
An hour and a half passes by and I go to the front desk to find out why my car is taking so long for a simple wheel alignment.
As it turns out, my car had never even left the parking lot and my paperwork was apparently “in the wrong place” No-one even new my car was in need of repair my work order just sat somewhere doing nothing for one and a half hours. So, I had to wait for the mechanic to “chomp down his lunch as fast as he could” (yeah right) before he finally got around to working on it. took over 3 hours of my day just sitting there.

More than once Canadian Tire has let me down with lousy irresponsible customer service. Boycot the fucks.

Yes, thank you. I’ll have to keep this all in mind as I just bought a cheap car from a friend’s mother and need to have it looked at.

Will avoid Midas at all costs.

Mechanic checking in here. By the way, that’s not the way only Midas works, but the way every shop works. If you have a job that’s supposed to take say four hours, but you can do it in one and a half hours, you’re paid for four hours of work. Of course, if it takes you seven, you’re still paid for four hours. A good mechanic can turn seventy to eighty hours a week. If he’s doing one hundred hours a week, he’s being fed easy jobs by the service writer.
We once had a terrible mechanic who would sleep while he was supposed to be fixing cars. He would wake up, hurriedly finish the job, and leave work early. He didn’t last long here. We saw many comebacks from the crappy work he did.

A little clarification on what mike1dog posted. I’m sure “…that’s not the way only Midas works, but the way every shop works…” is not referring to selling unnecessary work, deceiving customers, and getting a commission on parts sold, as mentioned in some of the Midas comments above. Rather, it’s in response to this comment from misstee: “… Midas employess get XX amount of dollars wage out of every labor hour they bill out…”

In fact, not every shop pays that way, although many do. In honorable shops that do business with integrity and have honest help, this type of pay system is not an issue for consumers. In shops where the primary focus is how much money they can make, rather than how well they can serve their customers, it unfortunately can give mechanics extra incentive to help rip people off.

Say, how often do you guys refill your brake-light fluids?

I get the sinking suspicion that my mechanic is ripping me off. But since the brake-lights are so important, I’m afraid that if I don’t keep the fluids at the optimal level, the lights might not work.

Yes, that is what I meant, not the rip-off part. If the shop foreman is good, he’ll notice this kind of thing. That’s the main problem with places like Midas. They don’t pay well enough to attract decent help.

I quite agree. My observation has been that most chain/franchise auto service shops tend to have entry-level help, and they train them to sell rather than to have sound mechanical judgment.

I don’t know if you’re serious or just playing with us, but just in case…

There is no such thing as brake light fluid. There is no fluid that affects brake light operation.

(If the brake fluid level in the master cylinder gets low, that can trigger the brake warning light on the dash, which is not the same as the brake lights at the rear of the car. If this occurs, don’t just top it up, find out why the fluid level is low.)

In California fixed rates for specific jobs have been the rule since the Reagan Administration, that is the administration of Governor Reagan.


About six years ago, my car started overheating all the time. Without fail, five minutes into driving some place, and the “engine overheating” light would go on. So, I took it in and was told I needed some multiple hundred dollar repair. This was the same place that had done several multiple hundred dollar repair jobs for me, and it seemed like the problems never really went away.

So, I got smart. I posted my problem in GQ on the Dope, and several people answered that it was probably the thermostat valve - a cheap part and an hour of labor. I went back to this repair shop and told them I wanted that fixed instead. The guy tried to argue with me, but I finally told him it was my gamble, and I was willing to take it.

Interesting thing, it worked like a charm after that.

:smiley: <— Does this answer your question?

Thanks for the reply though. I’m sure some readers are furiously calling their mechanics to demand a refund for all the *premium * brake-light fluid they paid for.