Mechanics have very poor communication skills. Just like doctors, they speak their own language, but they're held to much higher standards than doctors. In three words I can tell another mechanic more about an engine than I could in five minutes with the typical car owner.
To add to the confusion, almost all dealerships and many independent shops have service advisers as middlemen who write up your paperwork and tell you what was done to your car. They usually never were mechanics but they have real good communication skills. Their job is to take what they think they heard from the mechanic, interpret that into what they think you will understand, then try to explain that to you in a way that makes sense. You know things are going to get lost in translation, but that is not intentional and it doesn't mean they're dishonest. You might get the same glassy-eyed look after listening to your dentist, accountant, or carpenter.
There were many times when my service adviser brought customers back to see me for a better explanation, and I was often amazed that what the customer said they were just told was nowhere near what I had told the adviser earlier. If there was an attempt to be dishonest, you know the adviser wouldn't have brought the customer to see me.
No one expects people to be knowledgeable in the machines they trust to get them back home, but with cars being so ridiculously over-complicated today, owners don't understand why we do a lot of the things we do, and as a result, it is assumed we are trying to sell you more parts than are needed, we overlooked a worn part or just neglected to tell you about it, or we replaced an expensive assembly that could have been repaired less expensively. There are usually legitimate reasons for why we do these things, and some of them are our customers' own fault. Just like doctors ordering way too many tests to cover their butts, we have to worry about lawsuits too, and you pay the price for us being overly-cautious with the car that can kill you.
As a former instructor, I put a lot of emphasis on spelling, grammar, and correct terminology on the repair orders and other papers I had my kids write. We get paid according to what we write on repair orders, so it's not the boss' fault if we forget something. But it IS our fault when things don't get documented properly. I CAN tell you incomplete work descriptions will result in bounced claims when the repair is under warranty. If the manufacturer can't understand what was written, you can be sure the service adviser can't either, so how is he going to tell you what was done.
One of my jobs here is to know the right questions to ask to help me help you find answers. Mechanics get real frustrated at times with their service advisors when the descriptions of the problems are vague or don't make sense. I had a real good adviser who would often have me speak with the car owner for a minute or two to be sure I had enough useful information to start the diagnosis on the right path.
Given all this wondrous information, I hope you'll see why your battery issue is difficult to address. There are a couple of other battery issues that could be referred to as "leaking" that have nothing to do with holes in the case or other physical problems, (although you DID provide enough information to tell me there was corrosion). Those are electrical problems, which I know you don't have. If there was indeed a problem with the top cover of the case not being sealed properly, that is not likely to be a one-time / one-battery problem. So much of the assembly is automated that if there was a problem, it would have affected a lot of batteries, and the manufacturer would be aware of it by now. That would have been corrected within a few days, so the chances of you getting two defective batteries is very unlikely.
Once the repairs are completed on your car, you might consider having the charging system tested at a different shop. Specifically, you're looking for charging voltage higher than 14.75 volts. This is only a guess, but it is possible a mechanic might purposely not report an over-charging condition on a car so he could legitimately send a battery back under warranty when really the cost of replacement should be the owner's responsibility since the failure wasn't caused by a manufacturing defect. I know I had to fib on repair orders a few times to get things covered that would solve the customer's complaint. What are you supposed to do when you know that part is needed, but the manufacturer says it's not worn enough to the point they'll pay for it?
As for diesel cars, I'm not sold on them because I like to do all of my repairs and I don't like high prices for parts. I have two friends who have five Dodge dually diesel trucks between them. They get better fuel mileage than a lot of small cars, and they pull huge trailers easily, but the politicians have gotten their unknowledgeable hands on them and taken away much of their advantages. Mostly that has to do with the emissions systems. One trucking company near me replaced 1,000 trucks with new 2006 models before the newer regulations went into affect. They calculated that if they had bought 2007 models they would have spent more than a million dollars MORE for fuel per year. You have to wonder how the exhaust can be cleaned up when the trucks are using more fuel.
The same is true for our cars. There's no denying cars today are so clean you can suck on the tail pipes and live to tell about it, but as a result, a 2,000 pound plastic car today gets only slightly better fuel mileage than my 4,400 pound 1980 Volare with chromed steel bumpers. A 1968 Buick Wildcat was so big you needed binoculars to look in the mirror and see the tail lights, but they easily got 22 mpg. With all the technology we have now, cars should be getting 70 80 mpg. Now, diesel engines DO get a lot better fuel mileage, but it comes at a cost. You won't want to stretch the oil changes and other maintenance, and you can expect to have to run to a mechanic for almost everything. My daily driver is a 25-year-old Grand Caravan that refuses to break down. It has one computer for the engine, and if I were to ever need a replacement, I can use any one from a salvage yard. Today's vehicles get worse fuel mileage than mine, and they have a computer hung onto every conceivable system where they aren't needed. GM has their computers designed so you can't use a used one. Replacements have to come from the dealer and they have to be programmed by them to your car. I will never own a vehicle from a manufacturer that pulls those kinds of customer-unfriendly business practices. Diesel engines use a very expensive high-pressure injection pump. Many of them last the life of the vehicle, but what if you get one that doesn't? I get to see a lot of repair bills. My students often showed me $800.00 bills from GM and Ford dealers every six months, and they were brought up thinking those were normal! I haven't spent $800.00 total on my van in at least the last 15 years, except for gas. If you need to replace an injection pump or a computer module, there goes the money you saved on fuel mileage. I'll be dollars ahead with my old rusty trusty van.
I know you didn't ask, but I want to share a comment from a very high-level national trainer for independent mechanics who don't get the dealer training. He claims that for customer-friendly business practices, meaning putting the customers' needs and wallet ahead of profits, the top three are Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler. I'm not promoting any new car, and business practices has nothing to do with quality of the product, reliability, repair costs, and things like that. Hyundai is the only manufacturer that allows anyone, mechanic or owner, to access everything on their web site for free. That includes service manuals, software updates, service bulletins, etc. Toyota and Chrysler allow access to anyone for a small fee, except for the Security Systems. After all, what good does it do to have that if thieves can disable them? BMW, VW, GM, and Audi are on the bottom of the list. That doesn't mean they won't take care of you. It means they have things designed in that are going to force you to go back to the dealer instead of your choice of independent shops, and you're going to pay a lot more to keep your car going than for most other brands. They will still have perfectly fine fit and finish, comfort, and features, but the cost of ownership will be high.
One of my friends with three Dodge diesel trucks specializes in rebuilding one and two-year-old smashed cars and trucks, and he is always buying replacement computers for those that got damaged. You will want to look into how many computers are on the car you're thinking of buying, and their cost. I use the Rock Auto web site for reference quite a bit. They have real good prices, but you have to add in shipping costs too. Whatever you find there, expect to pay about double from other places.
As for opinions, I do have mine for which brands are best and worst, but for every car I dislike, there will be someone who disagrees. If I tell you a model is good, and you buy one and have lots of trouble, you'll be angry with me. If I tell you one is particularly bad, and your friend buys one you were looking at and never has a problem, that will be my fault too. I learned that a long time ago, so I try to tell people what I've run into for common repairs and leave it at that. I can share that diesels get better fuel mileage, but that is a trade-off that comes with plenty of disadvantages. I'll stick with gas. Diesel owners usually spend more on their cars, just not for fuel.
Thursday, February 12th, 2015 AT 1:45 PM