Original Repair Bad? How to talk to shop?

  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 60 MILES
F/L Wheel Bearing. Found 12/31/09 inv 52k for fix of same. Now, today told same fix needed (diff shop) w/ 59k. How do I handle this w/orig shop? I have receipt. Warr states 12k or 12 mo. It's past 12 mo. Only b/c I've been unemp for 2 years and the car does NOT go anywhere, basically. Help/advice before anger insuse.
Do you
have the same problem?
Monday, July 18th, 2011 AT 2:24 AM

1 Reply

Please take the time to type full words. What does "inv" mean? What was found on 12/31/09? I'm guessing "unemp" means unemployed. Welcome to my world. It's been almost three years for me but I have no intention on working when the government takes 50 percent of what I earn.

As I see it, the first shop didn't do anything wrong. Warranties are to give customers peace of mind that the work was done correctly and the new parts are not defective. There is no way you can expect anything to be done for free at this point, however, some shops will look at each situation on its own merits. The second shop was not involved in the first repair and didn't make any profit on the job so they are out of the picture. To expect otherwise is similar to being unhappy with your steak at one restaurant and expecting a second restaurant to give you a free one.

First, to look at it from the first shop owner's point of view, they have to charge enough labor to cover their many costs including the mechanic's wages. They also make a profit that helps pay for those warranty repairs when it's understood you should not be charged again. It's possible a different mechanic will work on your car if it's a year later and he isn't real fond of working for free so the shop owner still has to pay him for the work. That money has to come from somewhere and that's what the profit takes care of.

They also mark up the cost of parts a little just like any other business. That covers the phone bill and someone's time to run and get the part. That too has to be done the second time for free. They planned for that to happen once in a while when they determined how much to charge for the part the first time.

Next you have to consider how the shop owner looks at the situation from your point of view. Most large chain retail outlet shops have very strict company guidelines they have to follow. If it's past the warranty date or mileage, it's out of warranty. Many employees will look for ways to handle the problem without going outside those guidelines but often there's nothing they can do. There is no advantage in NOT trying to make you happy. They would rather have the repeat business from a satisfied customer. Independent shops have a lot more leeway in that regard. They might be able to get the part replaced under their supplier's warranty, but that supplier has no way of verifying the mileage on your car, and they have no way of knowing if the shop bought the part specifically for your car or if they had it in stock for a few years. That bearing could have been five years old and sitting on the shelf. Most shops try to stock the most popular parts so they can give you faster service.

From what you posted, it appears you haven't even contacted the first shop yet but your fixin' to get angry. At least give them the courtesy to listen to your complaint and try to help before you assume someone did something wrong. It's not their fault it's past the one-year date, (which is longer than many warranties on some parts), but they might be just as interested in helping you as you are at getting angry. I can tell you from my limited experience at two shops I worked for, if a customer comes storming through the door and is angry or frustrated, their chance of getting satisfaction are almost zero. Besides the service writer's possible inability to help, he has little interest in even trying. Chances are regardless of the outcome, no help at all or everything handled for free, he knows that customer is not likely to ever come back.

When someone comes in feeling sorry for them self, like my ****** might have done, they too won't get a lot of help. They think someone is going to give them a better price because they feel sorry for them. My cousin who ran an extremely reputable tv repair shop learned early on that once the word gets out that you're a soft touch, everyone shows up with a sob story. Whatever sadness you can think up, they've heard it before. Unfortunately, people take advantage of those kinds of shop owners and that ruins it for the people who really could use a hand.

Now, the person who walks in calmly with documentation like you have and explains the situation is REAL likely to have people trying to help. Too many people look at it as "me against the shop", but everyone involved in the repair is a member of a team. The mechanic is working FOR you, not against you. If your attitude is "what can we do together to resolve this so it's beneficial for both of us", you can be fairly certain that person is going to try to help or get someone higher up involved who can. They might offer to cover half the cost of the repair, half the cost of the part, or just provide a discount. All new car dealer service departments, and many independent shops, live by the motto "it takes fewer advertising dollars to keep ten current customers happy than it takes to get one new customer". They have an interest in gaining your repeat business and they will look for any way they can increase the chances that you'll come back the next time.

To address the part itself, there's two other things that could be involved with a repeat failure. First, the torque on the axle nut is very important and all mechanics know it. If the vehicle's weight is placed on the wheel before that nut is tightened, the new bearing will instantly become noisy and make a buzzing sound like an airplane motor. If that nut was not tightened sufficiently, the new bearing would not have lasted 7,000 miles.

Some axle nuts are not reusable. They are supposed to be replaced every time they are loosened. Yours is listed as a "one-time-use" nut, but looking at a picture of it, that type is commonly reused without a problem. I don't have an opinion, but I suspect that is not the cause of the problem. I was the suspension and alignment specialist for nine years at a Chrysler dealership, and I reused that type of nut all the time without a problem.

The next problem has to do with what is wrong with the bearing and which side it is on? This pressed-in style bearing is normally easy to diagnose by it getting quieter when you steer toward it, such as when changing lanes, and it gets noisier when you steer away from it and more vehicle weight goes onto it. Still, we have been fooled from time to time. The best way I found to determine which one is making the noise is to run the car on a hoist and listen with a stethoscope next to each one. I've had many cases where the noise sounded like it was coming from the left side and it ended up being the right one that was noisy. When this starts out as intermittent noise, you might think the car is repaired if it is quiet for a while, but the wrong bearing might have been replaced, so it will appear to be a repeat failure of the new part. Here again, I doubt that is the case after 7,000 miles. My hunch is if you're having a buzzing noise problem, the other bearing might be the cause, not the one that was just replaced. The first thing to do is verify it's really the new bearing that is causing the problem.

If you can get back to the first shop, they deserve the chance to inspect their work. If it can be determined something was done incorrectly, while they might not be happy about admitting it in so many words, they're more likely to try to do something for you. If you don't get a reasonable solution, ask to speak with their manager or shop owner. The employee might be just following the rules. Managers and supervisors can do a lot more for you.
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Monday, July 18th, 2011 AT 3:57 AM

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