Boy oh boy, where to start?
I'm so tired of hearing "I'm a female so I know I'm going to be ripped off". That excuse has run its course. Over the years I had at least six female students in my Automotive Technology program, and one of them was useless, ... Just like some of the guys. Two of them were among my top ten graduates out of over 150 people I taught. You are welcome to know little about cars but you don't get to whine and snivel about it being because you're a female. I had a hard time learning to make hard-boiled eggs. Do I get to blame that on being a guy?
Second, when you have the attitude the mechanic is your adversary, that's how YOU are going to treat him. He is supposed to be your advocate. I would be very surprised to find a doctor who said to himself, "I think I won't fix this person's ailment today so they have to come back tomorrow". What plumber would purposely leave a pipe fitting loose so you have to call him back? He's too busy for that nonsense. Only auto mechanics are held to much higher standards than doctors. Boy if you don't diagnose every problem, including those I'm not aware of, and fix them all the first time, I'm going to be "a very very pissed off customer".
What kind of work do you do, and do you get it right every time? You own a car that is well-known for having coolant leaks. The intake manifold is one possible location. Regardless, you already knew there was a leak. With that, normal pressure can't build up in the system so what exactly would force the coolant to leak out of a second, or third place? Now that the known and visible leak is fixed, it's likely pressure is building up and the coolant is being forced out of a different place.
GM is also famous for using "Dex-Cool", that red coolant we call "Dex-Mud". If you follow their recommended change intervals, it will not get changed often enough and acids will build up in the system. The accumulation of those acids, and the fact that additives in coolant that combat those acids wear out over time is why we need to change it every two years. Due to that acid buildup, corroded heater cores and leaking radiators are very common on GM products. Don't blame that on your mechanic. My friend had something new leaking every six months on his Buick. He knew it was "the nature of the beast" and just kept on replacing things as necessary.
Now, it IS entirely possible your mechanic did something wrong, but getting angry isn't going to help YOU get your car fixed. Most shops pay their mechanics on a system called "flat rate". Among the checks and balances, if he has to do over anything he just fixed, he doesn't get paid again and the shop owner knows he can't charge you again. Try getting that kind of free service from your doctor. The mechanic also loses by not being able to move on to the next paying job while he's correcting mistakes on your car. He loses twice. THAT is why it's in his best interest to do the job right the first time.
The most important thing that is likely being overlooked is it is common on most engines now to develop air pockets in the cooling system after the coolant has been drained. Most of the time they work their way out on their own after one or two warmup / cool-down cycles. Where do you suppose the coolant comes from to fill in those air pockets? That's why there's a reservoir. If that's all that happened, your mechanic could have taken your car for a long test drive, waited an hour for it to cool down, then check the level, but in my experience, more people get angry at having to sit in the waiting room longer than expected. Why invite that anger?
If the mechanic had filled the reservoir to the very top in anticipation of an air pocket, you can be sure it would have heated up and expanded to cause a huge puddle on the ground. I'm pretty sure he didn't want that to happen so he only filled it to the "full" mark which is near the middle. It doesn't take much to fill in air pockets and lower the level in the reservoir enough to turn on the warning light. All it will take to solve THAT is adding a little more coolant.
The service advisers at the dealership I worked for were supposed to tell customers that the coolant level might go down in a few days, and to just stop back if it does. Another problem is they have to worry about the freeze point of your coolant. That has to do with the percentage of antifreeze and of water. Once they refill the system after a service, the freeze point can't be tested accurately until it mixes thoroughly. Later they can adjust the ratio by adding a little water or antifreeze, but there has to be someplace to put it. If your reservoir is already full, where' that additional stuff supposed to go? Had this happened at my dealership, it would be entirely possible the service adviser just forgot to tell you to stop back. There could be nothing the mechanic did wrong, but you're fixin' to go in there angry. Who wins then? You'll get the coolant filled either way. Being angry just makes everyone else less likely to go above and beyond what is necessary to make up for the inconvenience.
There's nothing wrong with taking the car back to the shop to allow them to inspect their work. They will fix what they did incorrectly, or they will diagnose a different leak, or they will simply add coolant to the reservoir. If you show up angry, you can be 100 percent certain you will not get the best service you deserve.
You need to change this comment:
"Well I realize as a female some mechanics find it that some women are mechanically illiterate"
to: "most people" are mechanically illiterate. It's hard for mechanics to keep up with all the ridiculous unnecessary technology on cars that changes every year. No one expects owners to keep up with it. Doctors have it easy. They only have to learn two models in varying sizes. Just the cures change, and they bury their mistakes. A mechanic's mistakes keep coming back, and boy do we let them have it if they make one!
There is nothing wrong with not knowing much about cars, but it's interesting to note that those are the people most likely to get angry rather than seek a solution. People who know a little about cars or who understand how the repair business operates are much less likely to get angry. I wouldn't even fault you for getting upset if you had to keep taking your car back and were not getting satisfactory answers or service, but definitely not after one visit and not before you at least give the poor sucker a chance to see what happened. How can any reasonable person have anger as their first response before they even know what to be angry at?
Monday, February 13th, 2012 AT 12:02 PM