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View Full Version : Mechanic messed up car repair. Should I expect a refund?



macro
08-29-2006, 12:52 AM
My Ford Explorer has been leaking on both sides of the rear differential, where the axle inserts into the differential. I took it to my mechanic, who said that the axle seals needed replacing. He did the job at a cost of $100 labor and $50 for two seals, which were Ford OEM. Problem was, it still leaked as badly as ever. In fact, it seemed to leak even worse, but I assumed that I must be imagining that. After all, it had new seals, so surely it couldn't be worse.

I took it back to the mechanic and he basically just threw his hands up. He said the seals had been replaced, and if done properly, it shouldn't leak, and there must be something more serious wrong with my rear end. He didn't seem too determined to get to the root of my problem, but rather just kinda rambled around my questions.

I took the car to a new mechanic, who began by contacting Ford. They acknowleged that 2002-up Explorers had had problems with axle seals, but that once the original defective seals were replaced with the newly-designed ones, it had been solving the problem. (Ford should've done a recall on these, but that's another issue altogether.)

Today I took it in to have the new mechanic replace the seals once again. He did so, and told me this afternoon that the car originally came with "seal guards", and that these should have been removed when the replacement seals were installed. He said it's right there in the instructions from Ford. They hadn't been, so therefore the axles were unable to seat into the differential, leaving a 1/4" to 3/8" gap. So, I was right! They were leaking worse than before! The original mechanic (actually his employee) had failed to follow the instructions, so I wasted $150.

I haven't picked the car up yet, but assuming the leaking problem is fixed, I plan to let the original mechanic know (in a diplomatic manner) what had happened. I'm not angry - people make mistakes. But my question is this: Is it reasonable that I should expect a refund of my $150, or should I kiss it goodbye? It seems very unfair that I wasted $150 on a repair that did not work, simply because someone didn't follow the instructions.

If he refuses and makes excuses, should I drop it, or pursue legal means?

pedro
08-29-2006, 01:03 AM
I think you should ask for a refund on the labor.

If they refuse just don't use them again and write it off to bad luck. Oh, and talk bad about them to everyone you know.

Ltlabner
08-29-2006, 07:59 AM
I haven't picked the car up yet, but assuming the leaking problem is fixed, I plan to let the original mechanic know (in a diplomatic manner) what had happened. I'm not angry - people make mistakes. But my question is this: Is it reasonable that I should expect a refund of my $150, or should I kiss it goodbye? It seems very unfair that I wasted $150 on a repair that did not work, simply because someone didn't follow the instructions.

If he refuses and makes excuses, should I drop it, or pursue legal means?

The first part of your plan sounds very good. Calmly explain the problem to the orginial mechanic and ask for your money back. Make sure you understand what when wrong and can "present a case" to the mechanic better than "you suck". If those efforts fail, I'd say chalk it up to experience, and take the loss. But as Pedro said, I'd let everybody on the planet know about your dissastifaction. If the guy gets really crappy about it, I'd report it to the BBB and any other consumer rating type group. If the mecanic is part of any sort of association, whether for mechanics, a small business or as part of an auto dealership, you may explore fileing a complaint with them.

Personally I wouldn't waste the time on "legal means" for $150. You'd have to take him to small claims court because no laywer is going to take a case over $150. My time is money so anything over 1 hour's time involved in a small claims matter would be a loss IMO. And you have to figure in driving to court, waiting for your case, time to prepair, time with the new mechanic to get written "statements" from him, etc. Ultimatley, I'd lose money trying to get back a realtivley small amount.

GAC
08-29-2006, 08:59 AM
I think you should ask for a refund on the labor.

If they refuse just don't use them again and write it off to bad luck. Oh, and talk bad about them to everyone you know.

Yep. Try the diplomatic approach first, and if they blow you off then let them know that they not only lost a customer but you are going to put the word out on him. That's about all you can do unless there are some consumer rights organizations you can contact.

Taking him to small claims court is an "iffy" situation and may cost you more in the long run.

Roy Tucker
08-29-2006, 01:28 PM
All of the above is good and sound advice.

The only thing I can add is if you have a lawyer you regularly use or subscribe to a legal service, you could have him call the manager/owner of the garage and discuss the matter with him. Getting a call from a lawyer impacts people differently than getting a call from Joe Average.

I've done it a couple times and its worked both times.

pedro
08-29-2006, 01:33 PM
All of the above is good and sound advice.

The only thing I can add is if you have a lawyer you regularly use or subscribe to a legal service, you could have him call the manager/owner of the garage and discuss the matter with him. Getting a call from a lawyer impacts people differently than getting a call from Joe Average.

I've done it a couple times and its worked both times.

true dat.

Johnny Footstool
08-29-2006, 01:36 PM
This is all good advice.

Ask for a refund. If he doesn't give you one (which he probably won't), calmly explain that you'll be telling people to avoid his shop.

It might be a good idea to have a portable recording device with you -- a cameraphone with video is ideal -- just in case the guy gets angry.

macro
08-30-2006, 12:18 AM
Thanks for all the input, folks! It's appreciated!