2005 Ford Focus • 4 cylinder FWD Manual • 70,000 miles

My son’s 2005 Ford Focus had fluid leaking into the car near the clutch. Firestone mechanic said it was the slave cylinder leaking and had to be replaced. Most fluid was gone. Because transmission had to be removed to make the repair, the total coat would be $1200. I ok’ed the repair. After the repair the leak continued and the car was returned. Turned out the master cylinder was the problem. They apologized for the mistake and said the slave cylinder was shot and needed replacement but they would provide a discount on the new repair. Turns out the new repair cost is about $125 after a 25% discount.
Have I been ripped-off? Is the mechanic trying to cover his butt by saying the slave cylinder needed to replace anyway? Can’t I argue that the slave cylinder may have been a problem now or years from now? Do I have an argument that they misdiagnosed the problem and this was an absolutely an unnecessary repair? Or was the slave ruined because the master leaked its fluid?

I am considering small claims court to recover some or all of my $1200. Do I have a case?

Jim Henry
December 12, 2010.

The way I read the story here is: You authorized the repairs. There was not a statement of any inspection of the mechanics claim. The distance between the master and slave cylinders is enough to not have a mistake be made. If leaking inside the car, how did he sell you the slave cylinder? You might be within your rights in small claims, you also have the power of the social network (facebook, etc.) First is to check the facts and to allow the repairing agency to adjust on this issue, you dont know what you will get unless you ask. My gut reaction is to take aggressive action straightaway. $1200 is a bit of cash.

Dr. Hagerty
Dec 15, 2010.
Thanks for the reply.

I did a follow up with the mechanic and asked for specifics on how this all happened.

He said when my son brought in the car it had leaked out most of the fluids. They bled the system and fluid leaked out from the transmission. Their diagnosis was the slave cylinder. Therefore they did the repair. They said the slave was shot as was the clutch.
Not until it continue to leak did they do the second repair and replace the master. He said parts which have plastic parts just do not last as long as they should. So I assume both cylinders were bad but they did not catch it until the second time.

Jim Henry
Dec 17, 2010.
There is such a thing as an honest mistake! I made one when I assumed facts not in evidence. I did not know the clutch was replaced, $1200 is not out of line for parts and labor, but they didn't catch the clutch master, OK, chalk it up to bad luck and go on.

Dr. Hagerty
Dec 17, 2010.