6-7 yrs ago my wifes 1993 astrovan (all wheel drive, 4.3 ltr) Died and
we told by 2 mechanics that we paid that it needed a Head Job. Fast forward
to March 2013 Wife Hires Pepe, he averaged 3-4 hours working per week usually on either a friday or Monday. 120K on engine

Got the heads ground, gas out and rinsed with 6 gallons(Not!) And new fuel pump, I told her to call it off at $ 2,000,
so he was gone, local auto parts store recommended J who is ASE certified and works at local dealer as mechanic, I thought WOW

Its now $800 later and a tow job to his place, all work was performed on site here.
He did get it running but said Pepe put wrong adhesive/sealants of head so it has to come off again,
He also really drained bad gas, rinsed again and new, new oil, water, and correct fuel pump, pepe was 18 and his was about 80. So it ran but oil comes out of 2 fittings at the top?

Your honest humble is Very Appreacated! I did tell her to quit this guy at $1,000 and we'll tow it home. My wife and I only have $ 1,400 a month
combined Social Security and that is All!


Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 AT 9:11 PM

1 Reply

You didn't ask any car repair question but I can offer a few observations. First of all, if the first guy supposedly put the heads on with the wrong sealants, how could the second guy know it? There's nothing to look at that could be used to identify that. Plus, there are no sealants used on the cylinder heads. They use steel gaskets after the surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and the heads are scrubbed to the proper "surface finish" to help the gaskets bite in and seal. Some mechanics like to use spray-on head gasket sealants but that is not necessary if you are careful during the installation.

Second, I understand the dollar issue but that should be agreed to before the work is started. The problem is there are always going to be things that are needed that aren't known up front. If the mechanic breaks a bolt due to carelessness he is expected to repair that at his own expense. If the bolt breaks because it was corroded, there's no way he could know that or prevent it so you can be expected to be charged extra for that. You don't fire the mechanic because of stuff like that. Every professional expects to be paid for his services and the same unfortunate mishap could have happened to the second or third person to work on it. Some problems are going to happen and can't be blamed on inexperience so you have to weigh the number and type of unforeseen problems against the first guy's lack of experience. Normally you want to stick with one person and give them a chance to correct their mistakes. In the case of people who jump from shop to shop after only giving the mechanic one shot at solving a problem, that's like jumping from one doctor to another right away when you don't get cured on the first visit. It often takes multiple visits before the cause of a problem is determined.

The other issue with going to a second mechanic is there are too many people in every profession who think they will look better when they tear down others, or in this case tell all the stuff that first person did wrong. To me, I respect the person who points out what the last person who touched my car did right. That shows they know quality work when they see it and will try to do the same. There are a lot of conscientious mechanics out there and I've worked with some who would simply take over a job, like happened with you, without commenting on the mistakes of the last person to work on the van. There are often unknown reasons the first person did what they did.

"Got the heads ground, gas out and rinsed with 6 gallons(Not!) And new fuel pump, I told her to call it off at $ 2,000,
so he was gone"

What does "Not!" Mean? What was done for $2000.00 and why was that a reason for the guy to be "gone"? If the work was needed, the cost is not the mechanic's fault. That could be a reason to give up on the van, but not the mechanic. My mother had a fuel pump replaced in her Grand Caravan around 2002 at the very nice Chrysler dealership where I used to work. They like me because I still fix a lot of radios for them and save them and their customers a lot of money, but they still charged her $450.00. I was a little disgruntled, but then a student told me his parents just had a pump installed in their GM minivan and it cost $650.00. That was over ten years ago.

Very few mechanics have access to the equipment to work on cylinder heads so they just remove them and take them to an engine machine shop. You didn't say what was done to the heads so it's impossible to guess at the cost, but normally they aren't going to just resurface the sealing surfaces to be sure they're true and will seal. They will check the valves to see if they're sealing properly. Even if they don't go through the time-consuming and expensive setup of the seat grinding equipment, they are going to remove the valves and touch them up on a valve grinder. It would be penny-wise and dollar-foolish to not grind the valves. I haven't priced machine work for a few years but my guess is $300.00 - $500.00 would not be unreasonable for this work, and that doesn't include the new gaskets or the time to remove and reinstall the heads. Between the head work and fuel pump, that could have eaten up over half of that $2000.00.

I'm not sure how to interpret "Its now $800 later and a tow job to his place, all work was performed on site here". Was the van worked on at your place or the mechanic's shop? It's impossible to work on vehicles at the owner's home because it isn't practical to haul all the special tools and equipment back and forth.

What does "pepe was 18 and his was about 80" mean?

Oil coming out of two fittings should be easy for the mechanic to diagnose and repair. Normally finding the leaks are the hard part. If those leaks are the result of something the first mechanic did or did wrong, he should be the one working on it and should be the one to have a chance to correct his mistake.

"I did tell her to quit this guy at $1,000 and we'll tow it home" doesn't make sense. It sounds like you're upset that one person is making too much money on the job and you want to spread the cost around among a whole bunch of people. Would you feel better if two people each did half the work for $500.00 a piece?

A lot of newer vehicles are really miserable to work on and your model is one of the worst so you're lucky to even find someone willing to take on this job on the side. I don't know if you're paying for repairs as you go and new problems are found, but if you had taken the van to repair shop you would get it back with a surprise bill once it was done. Most shops need to charge over $100.00 per hour so you know the bill would be a lot more than what you've spent so far.

I'm not sure what kind of advice you're looking for but so far you really haven't said what the mechanics did wrong. Sounds like you're more upset about the dollars, but if the mechanics are doing what is needed, that's the van's fault, not theirs.
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Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 AT 10:32 PM

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