Bad car repair, yet I'm wary to let shop 'make it right' - am I SOL?
February 9, 2018 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I have not given an auto shop the chance to fix a bad repair job, and thus have let a different (and better) shop fix their mistakes. Is any compensation from the first shop out of the question, seeing how I didn't give them an opportunity to try and 'make things right' ?

This is a semi-long story full of stupid. rookie mistakes that I am surprised at myself that I let them happen to me.

I brought in my car to a new-to-me mechanic to fix an issue with too much play/slack in the car's steering. Being a slightly older Mopar, I chose this shop based on cars of a similar nature that I had seen in the shop's lot, seemingly cars of their other clients, so I thought I was taking the car to a qualified shop that new older cars. They had very little reviews, but they were all positive. (ignored red flag #1)

After getting the car back after they installed a new steering gearbox, the steering play was better, but the car was out of alignment, which this shop was unable to fix (no alignment equipment?). They recommended a chain auto repair place nearby to align it, so I took it to them. I got the car back from the alignment at the chain store and the play in the steering was mostly back, not nearly as much, but the car was aligned ok. I didn't drive the car much after that, but when I did, I started to notice that it was wandering a little too much on the road.

I took it back to the first shop to have them re-check it, and asked them to look for anything else suspicious in the front end as well (tie rods, bushings, sway bars, center link, etc). The shop owner off-hand commented on the fact that they were understaffed - the mechanic that worked on my car had been out for a week - and they had a big backlog, etc. (ignored red flag #2)

After looking at it, they agreed the problem came back, and they supposedly fixed it, but they really didn't. When I asked about the other front end components they said they didn't see anything wrong. Well, they must have cranked something down hard, because the steering was now tight and stiff (think manual steering) and the wandering was even more pronounced. To the point of being outright scary to drive when coupled with the new stiff steering response. I am also suspicious of the chain store that did the alignment, because those are notorious for sub-par work. They could be the culprit that caused the problem after the first shop's repairs.

At this point, I was very wary about taking the car back to either of them. So I took it to a much better shop I knew and had used previously, that I should have gone to in the first place. They found that the new gearbox was defective and discovered a few other things wrong with the front end that the first two shops didn't see. I told them to fix their mistakes, knowing they would do it right, as I decided that I didn't want shop #1 or 2 touching the car ever again.

I called the first shop, but they had already closed for the weekend, so I won't get a response from them until Monday. The 2nd chain store is going to be a rig-a-marole, so that's a lost cause to me. So I'm not giving either a chance to see if they want to do the right thing, 'make it right' etc.

Am I SOL if I ask for some compensation from shop #1, even though I didn't let them have another whack at it?

I was in a similar situation a few years back where an existing problem was not disclosed, after a detailed inspection - and a simple car wash caused a major failure a few days later. It was difficult, but I got the shop to give me a partial refund.
posted by kilohertz to Human Relations (3 answers total)
I’d go back to the first shop with
1. The defective steering gearbox, you kept that right? They’ll want to inspect.
2. The exact amount in my mind that I expect to be refunded.

The replacement cost of the defective part is what I’d expect.
Not the entire first shop’s bill.
posted by artdrectr at 10:40 PM on February 10, 2018

^ This is basically what I had in mind as well. I'll be keeping the defective part to show the first shop. Then the ball's in their court.

I guess I could have been a little more forgiving, but I don't like wasting even 1 second when the business can't deliver.
posted by kilohertz at 8:58 AM on February 11, 2018

I guess I could have been a little more forgiving

No, this is your car, you can die if it's not maintained right. You gave them one second chance and given what happened it's completely reasonable to never let them touch your car again.

If you paid with a credit card, it's worth going back to the chain store and asking for some money back. Stores would rather give you a refund than have a chargeback. (Although I'm not entirely clear on what was done at the chain store -- if that was just an alignment and nothing else, they really aren't responsible for any of the steering issues caused by the gearbox, even if you wasted money on an alignment due to the first place claiming you needed one)

Write the shop you are happy with a nice review.
posted by yohko at 5:51 PM on February 11, 2018

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