Damage, Repairshop's fault?


My car was venting coolant, so I took the car to the shop, they diagnosed the issue and replaced hoses. When they were done and returned the car to me, they said the leak would be much slower, but that the water pump needed to be replaced also. In order to keep it from overheating, I continually supplied new coolant to the engine to replace what was venting, as it was a relatively slow leak.

Took it back, they replaced the water pump. After replacing the water pump, they told me the coolant wouldn't leak and the car wouldn't overheat anymore. Because of this, I stopped adding coolant to the engine.

However, my car overheated because the coolant still vented. Now, they tell me overheating ruined the head gasket, minimum $1200.00 to fix. I'm mad that I've paid twice for parts & labor to fix a problem that's not solved, and now overheating that they said wouldn't happen caused damage that will cost $1200.00. Advice? What should I do about this repair shop?

Do you
have the same problem?
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 AT 7:04 PM

1 Reply


Too bad repair shops are held to WAY higher standards than doctors. Doctors just bury their mistakes. When a doctor doesn't hit the right diagnosis on the first try we just keep going back for more tests, and paying each time, but we expect mechanics to know all of the problems right away and work for free if they miss additional problems that aren't always evident right away.

What do you mean by "venting" the coolant? Was it leaking onto the ground, over flowing into the reservoir, or just disappearing? While it's true running it low on coolant, which you should have been checking, will eventually cause it to overheat, the opposite can also be true. A leaking head gasket, which is very common with your car, can lead to overheating and coolant being pushed into the reservoir or going out the tail pipe. You should have had a lot of warning long before it overheated. The temperature gauge would have been slowly going up to the "hot" range or the dash warning light would have come on. Stopping the engine right away would usually prevent the head from warping. How did you originally figure out that coolant was being lost? If the engine overheated before you noticed the need to add coolant, the head may have started to warp back then. That is hardly the mechanic's fault. Regardless of which happened first, the overheating or the warped head gasket, you are now faced with the exact same repair most owners of GM front-wheel-drive vehicles, (and a lot of other brands) face. The need for a new head gasket and having the head check for warpage.

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Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 AT 7:53 PM

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