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Old 03-20-2010, 07:35 PM   #1
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Bad mechanics

I have had my tow vehicle to two reputable shops. The first, a frame an alignment shop that has been in business for decades.

They replaced shocks and the steering damper, and adjusted the steering gear, which went fine. Then they did the rear brakes. They honed the cylinders without removing them from the truck and reassembled them without bleeding them.

Then they reinstalled the aluminum wheels without removing the considerable accumulation of corrosion on the mating surface that contacts the brake drum. They had promised to hand torque the wheels and I guess I presume that they did.

Next shop I took it to for air conditioning work (a highly reputable shop with 2nd generation mechanics now running it) and they happened to notice fluid dripping from the rear brakes. I believe this was benign, a result of the prior shop failing to clean up after themselves, but this shop noted that the brake bleeders were corroded badly and that the brakes clearly hadn't been bled unless the old time "toothpick trick" was used. They asked for permission to rip them apart, which I granted because the pedal seemed a little soft, and they ended up putting in new cylinders ($14 each) and lines. I asked for the old cylinders back, and upon disassembly, I discovered that they had in fact been honed but had a large air bubble in them consistent with them not being bled.

This shop didn't clean up the mating surfaces of the wheels and drums, either, and they rammed the lug nuts down with an air wrench and didn't torque them properly.

This was all a couple of weeks ago and I decided to replace parking brake cables today myself and pulled the wheels and drums and discovered the irregular torque on the lug nuts and the corroded wheel surfaces.

I don't know what's wrong with the auto repair business but these aren't isolated incidents. I've been to other shops in the past where they have misdiagnosed problems, used overpriced parts, damaged bearings while removing brake rotors, and otherwise billed me for inept and sloppy work.
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:40 PM   #2
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There are all kinds of shoddy trades out there,I happen to have an excellent mechanic who does it all.Usually we trade out,I do his plumbing,and he does my vehicles. Dave
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:47 PM   #3
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Yep, Know Some.

Four things come to mind:

I didnít think pros would still be honeing cylinders. New or reman. ones are relatively inexpensive. We havenít done it in 30 years.

Those brake bleeders are the weak points in the brake system. They seize, plug up or tear off when you turn them. Theyíre not worth the time to repair. Iíll assume thereís a charge for rebuilding thatís greater than the cost of new ones.

Iíd be willing to bet the mechanic used a vacuum bleeder. Poor way to bleed brakes. If you get the bleeder open air gets past the threads and can make it difficult to see the consistency of the fluid as it exits.

Can't think of any reason not to clean the mating surfaces of the wheels and drums.

You didnít mention what youíre using for a TV but the technology used on most cars and trucks has outstripped the capacity of the independent shops. This leaves them at the bottom of the food chain with only tires, mufflers and brakes.
Iíd hesitate to comment on the internal situation at these shops without further info, but Iíd definitely bring up your experience to the owner.

Tom,
Fixin' Euro cars for 38 years. (How many years 'till retirement?)
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:10 AM   #4
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Tom, I completely agree. Remanufactured cylinders are readily available, reliable, and affordable. A couple years back I replaced the cylinders/calipers and shoes for about $50 per wheel. About $200 for all 4, plus I had the rotors and drums turned. Best way to do it. About the same year, a relative paid nearly $1000 to have the brakes rebuilt on her car.
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:32 AM   #5
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Not only do some shops miss things but parts suppliers to have issues sometimes. I recently bought lifetime warranty calipers/pads for my truck and the pads were gone in six months. Not only were the pads gone but the inner pad wore into the rotor and the supplier has yet to replace that. On top of that, the large national chain was bought out and my lifetime warranty turned into a one year warranty. Go figure...
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Old 03-21-2010, 12:35 AM   #6
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Sounds like the lifetime guarantee was for the life of the company, not the parts.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:31 AM   #7
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Such things should not go on. But as long as the public thinks any monkey can fix a car, and shops only for the cheapest price, this kind of thing will go on.

Frankly I do not know how to find a good mechanic even though I worked in the garage business for years. I can tell you, the best mechanic probably has a little shop off the beaten path with no big sign and no advertising. He does not need to advertise, he has all the repeat business he can handle from long time satisfied customers.

If you can find such a shop, possibly by a referral from a friend, you will be lucky.He will save you more money, and more grief, than you can imagine.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:50 AM   #8
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I don't imagine this will meet with universal agreement, but ever since I stopped working on my own vehicles (except for hobby ones) about 20 years ago, I have always gone to the dealer for service. I have had near zero trouble with that. This includes Dodge, Subaru, Nissan, Honda, Audi and Jeep. Oh, one more my wife's Smart Car.

Regards,

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Old 03-21-2010, 10:53 AM   #9
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The problem is many-pronged. It goes from shops interested in only the bottom line, getting customers in the door, and making the most money they can from them the one time they are there (because they know the customer will never be back) to the tech that either doesn't have the experience or is in a rush to get this one done so he can get to the next one so his paycheck will be bigger, to the parts store that buys the absolute cheapest parts they can find to resell.

For shops, look for a small independent shop that's been there forever, and employs techs that are ASE certified (multiple certifications are good, a Master Tech is better). Ask where they get their parts from, and if you are given a choice, tell them you prefer parts from a reputable chain of parts stores, not necessarily with a "lifetime warranty". When the part is worn out, that's the end of its lifetime, and the warranty.

For parts, if you're doing it yourself, stay away from the "yuppie DIY places" like Autozone. Recently our Suburban needed front brake pads. I called around, and Autozone was cheaper than anybody else by half, and the pads had a "lifetime warranty". After conducting an interrogation that would have done a CSI officer proud, the parts person finally admitted the pads were substandard, and not even as good a quality as OEM specified.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:08 AM   #10
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Terry, tell me the pads from Autozone were not Performance Friction carbonmetalic. I've had Autozone's PF pads on the Tundra for about 85,000 miles and they're doing great. OEM Toyota pads/rotors were replaced at 65,000 miles.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:12 AM   #11
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A dealership should be the best but it still boils down to the mechanic. And yes I said mechanic. I'm not sure what a Technician is, but it ain't what I am. I am ASE master certified,plus ASE diesel certified, plus 2 Ford master certs and numerous other generic certs.But i am a mechanic and that is what you need to find. If and when you do don't tell him how to fix your vehicle or how to save money. If he is any good listen to him, if he ain't find a real mechanic. I spent 12 years in 2 Ford dealerships and you can get a hack there just as easy as you can at an independant. I now work at a proving ground and we have hacks here also. So when you find a good mechanic hang onto him. Adios, John
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Thompson View Post
Terry, tell me the pads from Autozone were not Performance Friction carbonmetalic. I've had Autozone's PF pads on the Tundra for about 85,000 miles and they're doing great. OEM Toyota pads/rotors were replaced at 65,000 miles.
They were not. It turned out they were organic (read asbestos), and not full-width pads. That is, the friction material doesn't cover as much of the rotor as OEM specifies.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:31 AM   #13
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Finding a decent mechanic or rv tech especially when traveling is a crap shoot at best. In the past year I have had both very good and very bad experiences with dealers and independent shops as well. I was in the auto repair business and know the value of having top mechanics and also the frustration of customers dissatisfied by poor work. You almost have to be a mechanic yourself just to check the work of the so called experts that you have instrusted your vehicle too. There are no constants. Always replacing wheel cylinders or brake calipers with rebuilds with a guarantee should mitigate most problems. However, if a wheel cylinder or caliper is inspected by a competent mechanic and found not to be corroded or the bore scored they can be easily rebuilt (bores honed, rubber seals and boots replaced) for less cost than a rebuilt saving you some hard earned dollars. Not properly bleeding brakes is a sin and one that carries a lot of liability with it. I would inform the shop owner of what you found. A soft pedal could have meant brakes that did not work when you needed them. It's not that hard to check.
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Diesel1 View Post
A dealership should be the best but it still boils down to the mechanic. And yes I said mechanic. I'm not sure what a Technician is, but it ain't what I am. I am ASE master certified,plus ASE diesel certified, plus 2 Ford master certs and numerous other generic certs.But i am a mechanic and that is what you need to find. If and when you do don't tell him how to fix your vehicle or how to save money. If he is any good listen to him, if he ain't find a real mechanic. I spent 12 years in 2 Ford dealerships and you can get a hack there just as easy as you can at an independant. I now work at a proving ground and we have hacks here also. So when you find a good mechanic hang onto him. Adios, John
Yes, there are hacks everywhere, from the Ford dealership next door that put the directional wheels on the car backwards to the guy that deployed the airbags in a brand-new Armada at the Nissan dealership I was at. Then there's the tech down the street that burned his independent shop to the ground beacuse he threw a lit welding torch into a pile of greasy rags.
I think they started calling them "technicians" so they could charge more labor...
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