Posts like a Turbo
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: "Upstate" NY. Where cows outnumber people
A bit long-winded, but on topic.
We had a mechanic like this in our little town. People would blindly trust him with their cars. He started off a decent guy, but then realized he was the only game in town, people would have to go 20 miles to someone else. Next thing you know, he gets "funding" to build a bigger workshop, he started selling cars as well.
As far as I can tell, he was duping people left and right. Charge them for parts never replaced, replace stuff that didn't need it, and "create" issues while the car was in the shop, so that they would need to come back to fix the "created issue" down the road.
About the time I inherited my grandpa'* Regal (yes, the silver turbo 87), it needed some work, since grandpa didn't drive it much, and it tended to sit.
Took it to this guy (since I was only 16, and my parents followed everyone else in the BS line straight to this guy), to have some things done.
Now, I'm a person who questions things, and I knew a bit about electronics from my years running RC cars. We went through 3 batteries, 2 alternators, a new ECM, and days of it sitting outside the shop "waiting to be diagnosed", for insane diagnostic fees. All that in the time span of about 4 months. The last time it died and wouldn't charge, I bought my first Haynes manual and read it from cover to cover. I took my multimeter and started testing things on my own, even though I was fighting my parents who wanted to take it back to the guy. You know what it was? Bad cables. The ground cable was hanging on by a thread, and the battery cable was completely shot. Neither item was ever looked at or replaced. I grabbed new cables, put them in myself, and magically the problems went away. After that, I would buy parts and have my friend, (who took all the auto tech classes in high school, and went on to trade school for auto mechanics) help me understand and fix things. Soon, my parents were coming to me with their car problems, some of which were apparently done by the "mechanic".
As it so happened, around this time, another shop opened up about 8 miles from here, owned by a friend of the family. Place was family owned and run. Anything I didn't trust myself to do yet (brakes, engine work) or couldn't do (tires, inspections) went to this new shop. Their daughter was born the same day I was, and parents shared a hospital room. We knew them well. We helped the word about this place, and soon, they had a nice long line of people coming from the other shop.
Months later, magically, the original mechanic'* place was sitting empty, his business was all going elsewhere. Out of nowhere, a huge fire leveled almost the entire shop. (Either karma, or he had some good insurance, no one could prove it was intentional).
Eventually, the "good" shop was bought out by a chain. They ruined it, charged people too much, basically the status quo for a chain shop. One of the original mechanics, who worked for the original owners, bought them out and started over. Now he owns the place, and 2 more nearby, and it is family run, just like it used to be. He sits behind the desk answering the phone, picks up people, goes out into the shop to give the guys a hand, he'* not a "sit back and let everyone else work" type of guy. I go to this guy for everything. He even sold me the truck I now have, and financed it himself when the bank wouldn't give me a reasonable rate (since the truck is a 2001). He is probably one of the few good ones left out there. And he has more business than he can handle, and even parking there is always an adventure with so many customers. That is how you do business!
Moral of the story... learn something about cars. Doesn't mean you have to know how to tear something apart, but know how it works. Know some basics. If questionable, ask for the old parts when you get something done. Question anything that seems unreasonable.
I had to try to turn my parents away from the one mechanic they blindly trusted, too. It took work. I had to prove that what he was doing was wrong, and not needed, that he was a fraud. Its how I started learning to work on cars for myself. Once I could prove he was a fraud, they came around and listened to reason. Not just my parents, but a lot of people in this town took some pushing to realize it. Once my buddy and I started working on other people'* cars on the side just out of high school, and fixing problems the mechanic couldn't manage to fix, people started believing.
Its part of the problem with the world. People don't question things. Doctors, mechanics, accountants, etc. They trust these people to be honest, and they never learn anything for themselves. If the Doc says you need meds, they take the meds. No need to figure out why, the doc said so. If people would just start questioning things like this, we wouldn't have so many corrupt and fraudulent professionals.
2004 Buick LeSabre Custom FE5 GXP suspension conversion. 170Kmi
2001 Silverado 4WD 5.3L, 33" BFG ATs, Z71/Z82 pkg, 147kmi.