Since I was about 16 years old, I began learning to not take my vehicle to get worked on at any place where I had any doubts at all. If you have any doubt at all, don’t do it.
In the town where I lived, there was an independent mechanic named Sid, who had his own garage where he specialized in Volkswagen and Audi repair. He worked on my mother’s diesel Audi 5000, my sister’s VW Jetta, and my VW Rabbit. Sid was pretty straight-up, no-nonsense, honest, and truthful.
I took my VW Rabbit to the Goodyear tire store to get tires, and the Goodyear mechanic was telling me that the front suspension needed to have several different parts replaced. Remember, I only brought the VW Rabbit to Goodyear for tires. I called the Audi/VW mechanic named Sid who worked on my VW Rabbit and he said, bullshit, you don’t need any repair on your VW Rabbit, it’s fine, there is nothing wrong with it.
Someone who is working as a mechanic, is not necessarily an expert, an experienced mechanic, a knowledgeable mechanic, a competent mechanic, honest, ethical, or moral.
About one year after I graduated from high school, I bought a used Jeep Cherokee that was in very good condition. My father and mother asked me to help move my sister from Florida where we lived, to Washington D.C. It was about a 1,200 mile drive, one way. A family friend was going to let us borrow an enclosed utility trailer to tow behind my Jeep Cherokee with my sister’s furniture and belongings.
My father asked me to take my Jeep Cherokee to an acquaintance of his, who owned a small garage not far from where we lived. I can’t think of what else I wanted to have done besides an oil change prior to this trip, it was something small, but the main thing that I wanted was an oil change. My father wanted me to take my vehicle to this garage, because the garage owner was a client of his, he probably owed my father money, or would owe him money soon, so my father wanted to exchange his services, for garage services.
When I went to pick up my Jeep Cherokee, the garage owner’s sons had forgotten to change the engine oil, and had forgotten to do something else. Two out of the three things that they were supposed to do, they didn’t do. Back then, in this small town, there weren’t usually written work orders, or written service receipts, it was all verbal. If you verbally requested something to be done, when you went to pick up your vehicle, they were supposed to have done what you asked. This garage, and these people, were a complete mess.
Besides some mechanics not being experts, experienced, knowledgeable, competent, honest, ethical, or moral, some mechanics are just plain mixed up people who have problems with everything that they try to do. Do not take your vehicle to a mechanic based on this person owing you money, wanting to exchange their services for your goods or services, because of some type of friendship, or because of a recommendation that was based on friendship. Only take your vehicle to a mechanic on the basis of their competency, knowledge, skill, expertise, and experience.
When I went to work for construction companies in the late 1990s, sometimes a new hire employee would have behavior or work problems right away. A company manager would call the pre-employment drug testing company to ask for this new hire person’s drug test results as soon as possible. It would usually turn out that this new hire person’s drug test results would show positive for one or more illegal drugs.
Also working for construction companies, besides some new hire employees acting abnormal and having work problems right away because they were illegal drug users, some new hire employees could not do the work that they said they could do, they had lied about their work experience, knowledge, and competency.
The new hire illegal drug users, and the new hires who lie about their work experience, knowledge, and competency, these same type of people seek and gain employment at all of the quick lube service shops, tire stores, and gas station repair garages.
Car dealership service departments scrutinize the work history and qualifications of their mechanics before they are hired. They verify work history, and they want to see actual certifications verifying competencies for different types of mechanical work. The car dealerships have their service department personnel watch new mechanics very carefully for the first few months of their employment.
Quick lube service shops, tire stores, and gas station repair garages often turn a new hire loose on their first day of work, to do what the new hire claimed to have work experience doing. What this means, is that at a quick lube service shop, tire store, or gas station repair garage, the person performing work on your vehicle, may be a person who just got hired off the street, who may in fact have no experience, knowledge, or competency at all, and may also be a drug addict.
You can read newspaper articles, listen to radio car talk programs, look up internet articles, or watch YouTube videos about the problems people have had with their vehicles at quick lube shops, tire stores, or gas station repair garages.
On car talk radio programs, two discussions that I can remember, are as follows. One woman went to a gas station, and the attendant filled up her car’s brake fluid reservoir with power steering fluid. The gas station attendant was just young, inexperienced, not knowledgeable, and he didn’t know any better. The woman’s husband called the gas station owner, and the gas station owner agreed to pay for a new brake master cylinder replacement.
Another caller to a car talk radio program, who was among other callers that hour who had experienced the same problem, his daughter took her Toyota Camry to a quick lube shop, and she left the quick lube shop with no oil in the car’s engine. The young lady drove her car for some miles before it was obviously overheating and something was wrong, but by that time the car engine was ruined. The quick lube shop owner agreed to pay for a new engine for the Toyota Camry.
One Monday morning when I came in to work at an oil company in Texas, two of my co-workers, Mark and Charlie, they both had their vehicles damaged at a quick lube shop over the weekend. Mark watched through the window, as a quick lube technician went and got a long handle torque wrench, and turn the oil pan drain plug the opposite direction, stripping either the threads on the drain plug or the oil pan. Charlie had experienced the quick lube technician turning the oil pan drain plug in the wrong direction and breaking it off in the oil pan of his BMW.
You have got to wonder, what is wrong with the quick lube technician, or what kind of experience or knowledge can he have, if he believes that an oil pan drain plug is stuck, when in fact they are turning the drain plug in the wrong direction? An oil drain plug is staring you right in the face like a clock on the wall, and a drain plug gets turned counter-clockwise. If you drained the oil from an oil pan one time, or two times, you should be able to grasp this concept. How could this be your 8 to 10 hour per day job, and you do not know to turn a drain plug counter-clockwise?
The last two stories are about two cars that I bought, that almost had their engines ruined by the last person who worked on them, to perform a very simple repair. This repair was so simple, yet so messed up, that I can only believe that the work must have been done at a tire store or a gas station garage, because a car dealer mechanic would never have done this.
I bought a 1977 Porsche 924 about ten years ago. It had about 120,000 miles on it, it ran O.K., and it was in fair condition. I was looking at the engine one day, and I noticed that a belt was rubbing on the engine, I couldn’t believe it. I looked closely to see what was going on. I could see that the belt had been rubbing on the engine for some time, and if I had not noticed this, it would have rubbed right through the engine casting, causing damage to the engine that was either not repairable, or only repairing by removing the engine from the car and doing some hideous welding on the engine to weld over a gaping hole.
I found the same thing on a 1978 Mercedes 300D that I bought eight years ago. This 300D diesel Mercedes was in excellent condition, and the engine would have lasted for several hundred thousand miles more. But this engine was nearly ruined by a belt that was rubbing on the engine casting. It had been rubbing for some time, and it would have rubbed a hole right through the wall of the engine casting if I would not have noticed it. The only possible repair would have been to remove the engine from the car and make a weld over the hole, but it was in a very bad spot. The engine might not have been repairable.
What had happened to both the 1977 Porsche 924 and the 1978 Mercedes 300D, was that a belt replacement was required. There was a belt tensionor pulley on an arm that you would need to rotate onto the belt and then tighten the tensionor mount bolt to hold the tensionor in place. Who ever replaced the belt, rotated the tensionor pulley the wrong way, the tensionor pulley was making contact with the belt, but it was also pushing the belt onto the engine casting.
I wonder if in both of these cases, was the “mechanic” stupid, incompetent, inexperienced, on illegal drugs, or unethical, or some combination of these things. If you are a “mechanic” how could you not see that the belt was pushed up against the engine, and that it was rubbing against the engine. Do illegal drugs make you not care that the engine is going to be damaged and that this is not the way that the belt tensionor goes?
All I had to do was untighten the belt tensionor pulley arm, rotate it the opposite direction, hold it tight against the belt, and tighten it back down.
If you take your vehicle to a quick lube shop, a tire store, or a gas station garage, be prepared to receive a “free gift” from the meth addict “mechanic”, that little something extra that will cost you thousands of dollars later on.