dispute with a garage
November 14, 2017 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I had my strut mounts and strut assembly replaced in December 2016. Another garage is telling me the spring seats are broken. How can I get the installer garage to warranty repair this?

I've used two garages in the past year. Garage A is neat, clean, busy, great social media, front desk folks who whisk you in and out, everything's organized and so forth. Garage B is dogs walking around, a confusion of stuff, easy going, a bit greasy around the edges, really know their Volvos.

Entranced by the neat and clean Garage A, I had them replace the struts and strut mounts in the front of my V-70 2001, an older car.

Garage B is telling that there's clear evidence the sprint seats have failed. You can see the cracks in the seat underneath the top gasket in the image. Garage B is saying either they didn't replace the seats or they put in stuff that failed pretty quickly.

I've already taken the car back to Garage A once to check this. I wasn't prepared, I just relayed that I'd been told the seats were bad. I am now much more prepared with watching of Youtube videos of installation and a better understanding of what's actually in there. Garage A told me that 3 mechanics drove the car, everything's fine, no problems in there.

I am told by Garage B that the car is sagging because the seats are bad, which can lead to tire rubbing on the wheel well. Anyhoos, it should have been a complete replacement of all the parts in the strut.

My plan now is to take the vehicle to 1-3 more mechanics, have them eyeball the same thing in the URL image above and give me a quote on spring seat replacement. Then, if they affirm the seat is bad, go back to Garage A again, and have a discussion with potential threats of Yelp, Youtube and FB posts with the results of my hassles about this if they don't fix the frigging seats. I'm not the type of person who immediately goes to code Red however, I am persistent and methodical and am building a case that the job was not done right and needs to be done again with new seats.

Okay, that's the gist. Any tips here or perhaps a mechanic who can tell me if the posted images are proof that the spring seats are cracked?
posted by diode to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
If you are correct, why would you want them to touch your car ever again?

Move on, pay someone else to do it right.
posted by yesster at 4:24 PM on November 14, 2017

So those parts are called 'top mounts' usually. The Spring seat itself is the lowest part of it and the failure you seem to have looks like dry rot of the rubber between the outer (bit that connects to the car) and inner (bit that connects to the strut top) parts of the mount.

This is not a big job, but this IS something I'd have expected to have been changed during a strut swap. It is absolutely something I'd consider referred to by a 'strut mount swap'. It is also clearly broken. Get your original invoice, and see if new top mounts or strut mounts were on there. If so, politely suggest that when they replace the items FOC, they get those mounts warrantied with their supplier. As in THEY do, not you. Not your problem.

It looks like dry rot, as I say, so this is almost certainly age related and a part that doesn't even do 12 months like that is very unlikely, so it suggests to me they weren't changed. My suspicion is that they just changed the strut and re-used the top mount. Whether that is there problem hinges on whether or not they replaced (or you have it in writing that you asked and/or were billed to replace) those mounts.

If you paid for them to be replaced? Go back in with the original invoice, say they weren't replaced or if they were, with ones of pitiful quality and you want them warrantied. If you didn't pay for them to be replaced, then it's not the end of the world. This is a relatively cheap job. Drop the strut out (5 bolts probably), compress the spring, remove and replace the top mount (one nut), release spring tension and refit.

I'd be double checking those are new struts too, though.

"Move on, pay someone else to do it right."
Because they did a job and are obliged to do it properly? I don't see any sign of incompetence. They either put an old mount back on (through confusion, stupidity or on false pretences) or they didn't. The job itself looks perfectly fine what what I can see.
posted by Brockles at 4:26 PM on November 14, 2017

perhaps a mechanic who can tell me if the posted images are proof that the spring seats are cracked?
To clarify, consider this done. Absolutely conclusive that the top mounts have failed, most likely through dry rot/end of life of component. Components are typically good for 75,000 miles+ and ten years at the very least.
posted by Brockles at 4:28 PM on November 14, 2017

Brockles has it nailed, though I wonder whether a top mount shouldn't last whole lot longer than 75k miles/120k kms. I will also add that these are (almost certainly) NOT spring seats, these cushion the up/down action of the shock absorber shaft as the car moves on its springs, and the failure of these rubber mounts will reduce the effectiveness of your new struts (shock absorbers). As for driving the car, FFS, all these spanner jockeys need to do is look at it (the mount).

I'd be double checking those are new struts too, though Me too.
posted by GeeEmm at 6:11 PM on November 14, 2017

I wonder whether a top mount shouldn't last whole lot longer than 75k miles/120k kms

Absolutely. But I threw out a low estimate-while-still-also-being-far-far-higher-than-the-use-case-here number just to make it obvious. I mean it depends on make and model and use/quality of roads and all, but I'd be shocked if a Volvo OEM part didn't make 100-130k miles.
posted by Brockles at 6:17 PM on November 14, 2017

Thanks for the replies. The invoice clearly states the strut assembly and strut mounts were replaced. One site gives typical pricing for this type of work, $800 is the high end. I clearly did not get premium work here. $253 for the strut mounts, 456 for the assembly, plus $400 labor so 1092 for subpar work.

I may very well print out this thread and bring it with me to the shop. I guess pounding on the table probably won't get very far.
posted by diode at 7:17 PM on November 15, 2017

Compressing the spring when you've never done that before, don't have the tools and so forth, it's not so small a job. I've gotten a quote for $200 to replace them from Garage B and am inclined to go back there if it comes to that.
posted by diode at 7:38 PM on November 15, 2017

it's not so small a job.

No, I meant for a shop.
posted by Brockles at 8:23 AM on November 16, 2017

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