Not everyone posts the solution, especially with intermittent problems, because they aren't sure if it's solved yet. We're just here ready to continue the conversation if they come back with more information or questions. Some solutions are very unusual and not likely to occur on another car, so it wouldn't be of any use to post them and think they'll help other people. Some people come back a month or two later to thank us and list the fix once they're sure the problem is solved.
This forum is working just fine. We aren't like other forums where a dozen people post replies and everyone suggests something different. We have one-on-one conversations as long as necessary to reach a solution. In my case that has already taken over 50 replies over the course of a month to track down a problem, but we stick with it without interference from other people. Then all we get is a "thank you" if we're lucky, ... And we're the guys you call shady. You'll notice if you watch the list of postings here that each one goes off the list once someone replies to it. That prevents the confusing and tiring free-for-all you see on those other forums. Here, only the two people involved get automated e-mails directing them back to it when there's a follow-up posted. We don't want a crowd butting in like in other forums. You're welcome to read the posts and add comments or questions, but please don't reply to them with such non-professional comments. Mechanics have a bad reputation already just because people don't understand the machines they trust to get them back home, and comments like yours makes that false impression even worse.
Why do you assume all shops are shady? I've gone into many competitors' shops and overheard customers talking, and it's amazing how they get stuff screwed up. I've met a really lot of good, honest people but they've pretty much given up on bothering to be that way because people like you don't have a clue about how they have to cover their butts to prevent complaints. I can list a hundred examples of when a mechanic has had their customer's best interest at heart and it came back to bite them because the owners were too misinformed to understand or know what was going on.
As for your water pump comment, that can't go unchallenged because other people researching problems will read this and believe you. Many water pumps are driven by the timing belt, and by the time there's a noticeable leak, it's too late. If it's an interference engine and the belt jumps as little as three teeth, open valves can be hit by the pistons and be bent. If you're lucky, that's only a $2500.00 repair bill that all mechanics want to avoid. Recommending a new water pump is the conscientious, smart, and ethical thing to do. The extra 30 to 50 bucks is cheap insurance. What kinds of names would you be calling the professional who tried to save you a few dollars by NOT replacing the water pump, and then it failed and took out the valves and new timing belt? Not replacing the water pump, as you suggested, is the mark of a crook who is hoping the car comes back to his shop another day on a tow truck so he can sell the customer those unneeded parts AND repair the resulting damage.
Please don't call all of us shady when you have never done this professionally. If you think you're somehow more ethical than the rest of us, try doing this for a year. See how long you last before you want to throw in the towel. You'll find out how frustrating it is when people don't believe you when you point out a safety or reliability problem that is going to cause them trouble. See how YOU like it when customers call you names because you tried to warn them about a part that was about to fail. If you would go to an Automotive program in a community college you would learn how all the parts in a car work together, and you would learn how to communicate that effectively so the customer understands what you are trying to do for them.
We are held to much higher standards than doctors. People run from one doctor to another until they find a cure that works. Heaven forbid a mechanic doesn't find the cause of the problem on the first visit. He's obviously shady. Doctors only have to learn two models in varying sizes. Mechanics have to relearn dozens of new systems on dozens of new models every year after year endlessly, and if they only see one of a certain model in a year they are still expected to be an expert on it. People like you will accept "I don't know" from your doctor, and he will send you to a specialist. Why don't you call him shady?
We hear stories all the time about a shop owner being sued because he sold the customer a water pump, (or some other part), that wasn't needed. Then we hear about the other shop owner being sued because he should have known that water pump was going to fail, and if he had replaced it, the new timing belt wouldn't have shredded. You can't have it both ways, but no matter what the mechanic does; saves you money, or replaces every questionable part to insure the reliability of the repair, chances are the customer is not going to be happy.
If you will stand around the service area at any reputable shop, you will see they have a hard time accommodating everyone who comes through the door. We don't need to "make money" by selling unneeded parts and services. We want to go home too at the end of the day. We have more than enough work to fill our 8 to 10-hour days.
If you will reread the original post closer, you will see they never said they were tricked into having the water pump replaced. There's no mention of ever having taken the car to shop, so put the blame where it belongs, if you think there is blame needed here. Why even drag a whole profession into the mud when you don't know the full story?
What about all the water pumps we replace under warranty? Do you think we're shady because we replaced the part that solved a problem or complaint, especially when, according to you, they don't fail? Warranty always pays a lot less time than what the job actually takes. That means the mechanic gets paid fewer hours than he works on the car. It also means he is tied up and can't work on better-paying jobs. The warranty company isn't happy because they're spending money to repair someone else's car. The mechanic isn't happy to be earning less than his training and experience is worth, the shop owner isn't happy because he gets reimbursed less per hour than it takes to run his business, and those better repairs where "we sell you unneeded parts" have to wait. Even the customer is unhappy with the repairs that don't cost them anything because they had to take time out of their busy schedule to drive all the way to the shop and wait. No one is happy with that warranty water pump, but we have to do it.
You'll have to fill me in on clogged water pumps. I've only been working on cars for for 40 years, professionally for 16 years, then teaching Engine Repair for 9 years. What is it you're finding that clogs them, seaweed? Perhaps you have a GM product with Dex-Cool, (Dex-Mud) in the cooling system, but I don't know of anyone who had to unclog a water pump.
Your comment about hoses is what told me you're not a trained professional. "Unless they are torn and leaking, they aren't bad". That's real smart. So you would have someone driving their car in the country on a dark Saturday night assuming their car is reliable because the hose hasn't ruptured, ... Yet. Explain that to your customer on a Monday morning after he tells you how his wife got stranded on a deserted highway. With your logic it is a good hose right up to the minute before it springs a leak. Why do you think they rupture? They rot from the inside where you can't see it. That's why replacing them BEFORE they pop is called "preventive maintenance". You don't tell your customer to not replace the hoses until they pop, then call a tow truck. If any one of us could delete that irresponsible comment we'd do it in a heat beat, because, after all, we want to sell more parts. By that screwed up logic, you don't replace worn tires until the air falls out. You don't buy gas until the tank runs empty, because after all, if the engine is still running, the tank's not empty. You don't replace the belts at the recommended intervals because if they aren't broken, they're not bad.
"Chances are, it's the thermostat"
Dead wrong. That's what most misinformed people jump on first because that's one thing they understand or have heard about for decades. The fact is it is extremely uncommon for them to stick closed on their own. Typically when they fail, they don't close tightly resulting the engine temperature being too low. The most common cause of a properly-sealing thermostat to not open is a leaking head gasket. If the combustion gases pool under the thermostat before it opens, it will not open. The sensing element has to be hit with hot liquid. Hot air won't do it. Most thermostats today have a small bleed hole in them to insure hot coolant can reach it to cause it to open in time. If you think a water pump impeller can get clogged, surely a thermostat bleed hole would clog too, but you've never seen that either.
I don't know what kind of shops you have where you do business, but in my city we have about 15 new-car dealers and dozens of independent shops. Only the Chevy dealer, and the two other dealerships he owns, are known for counties around for being a crook. The four Chrysler dealerships owned by one super-nice family, the GMC dealership, the Cadillac dealership, and most of the import dealers have stellar reputations. There is one well-known independent shop that is very disreputable, and his parking lot is always empty. We also have some really outstanding shops that have people who can diagnose some very difficult problems. Their parking lots are always full. All of these dealers and shops thrive on repeat business and happy customers. Of course customers are not happy with big repair bills but that's not the fault of the mechanics, and that is forgotten while good service is remembered. That's the fault of the manufacturers that think everyone wants a car with way too much unnecessary use of technology. We don't need computers to roll power windows down or turn the heater on but that's what you bought, and when those things break down, as we know they will, it's not our fault. You ARE paying though for our continual training and very expensive specialty tools that we often only use on a few car models for a few years. If I were to post a copy of all the taxes, insurances, and the multitude of expenses the shops have to pay, you too would wonder how they can afford to stay in business by only charging around $100.00 per hour. Our highest-priced shop is a franchise tire dealer. He charges considerably more than any dealership's service shop, and the dealers are right in line with the independent shops. They all have the same expenses and the same government regulations.
Everyone thinks plumbers are rich because of what they charge, but by that logic the cashiers at Burger King are rich too because they sell a hundred burgers per hour at around five bucks each. When you're a backyard mechanic with no formal training, you don't have any of the expenses, and you're free to work at your own pace. Based on your comments about hoses, I don't think you would survive in a professional repair shop where customers look to you for sound advice and quality repairs.
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Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 AT 12:23 PM