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6 telltale signs that you should start thinking about changing your car repair shop

6 telltale signs that you should start thinking about changing your car repair shop Engine

Today I have something lighthearted for you. Then again there is a lesson learned here. It is about when to let go of a shop even though you love the people you deal with on a personal level and you trusted them so much – yet the results have not been there. Anyone else would have left this kind of a relationship long ago, but not you.

My story deals with exactly that. I used to go to a shop whose owner – who was also the service writer – I totally trusted. I even went out of my way to drive some extra miles just to be with these folks after moving to another town. That is how much I trusted and loved him and his techs. Now here are my telltale signs that I should have looked for another shop long before I finally did:

  • Something major goes wrong after state inspection. Here it was an expensive ignition part that failed coming home from a routine state and emissions inspection. “That can happen” was the simple yet meaningless explanation upon asking him how this could have happened.
  • Custom order tires and yet 3 out of 4 are wrong. Had to wait a week to get my significant other’s van tires because the shop had to order them. Upon them finishing the job I get out of the shop’s office to find the van lean to the right front. Reason: 3 out of the 4 brand new tires were way to big? What is worse? Not to notice it in the first place, or that they still mounted them on the car without then noticing it? You decide. Had to drive around like this because three more tires had to be custom ordered again.
  • Rotating tires leads to loose lug nuts part 1. Coming home from an oil change and rotating tires I try pulling into my garage making a hard right hand turn and one lug nut comes off my left front wheel and rolls around the driveway. Huh? Yes, 3 out of 5 lug nuts on 3 wheels are loose. Got lucky that nothing worse than a brief freak out moment happened.
  • Rotating tires leads to loose lug nuts part 2. My wife’s car gets back from state inspection and I check the lug nuts just because my trust factor had been lowered by the previous incident. Got nothing but a “we are sorry, and this will never happen again” over the phone when I asked him to please start checking the work of some of his mechanics.
  • You ask for your old parts back and only some emerge. At the routine tune up the spark plugs were supposed to be changed out. I should have known better, but I did not insist for them finding the 6th plug after looking for all 6 of them in the trash because they had “forgotten” about my request that I wanted to see the old parts. 20,000 miles later the engine light came on and the engine started misfiring like crazy. Turns out that the 6th spark plug – yes the original one – had not been removed at all because it was hard to reach. The mechanic at a different shop was utterly amazed that the plug had worked at all for such a long time.
  • You are being charged for premium parts to be installed and yet you get the economy stuff after all. Related to the spark plug incident above, I asked for was ultimately billed for the 100k miles premium spark plugs and yet the 20k mile ones were installed. Try proving that one after driving around with this stuff for a year or two.

Trust is good, but control is better. That is not normally my motto, but in the case of car repair shops it certainly is. This comes down to whom can you trust? If you have a great relationship with the person of interaction at the car dealership or any other place, you of course have the tendency wanting to go back. Make sure to provide yourself with a line in the sand, sort of speak. What will you not tolerate? Make sure you make that known at your favorite place. Act upon it.

Got a funny (at least in hindsight) story to share? Do so in the comments field.


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