Jump to content

Mechanic Issues- When to Bring it Home


MarkV
 Share

Recommended Posts

I took one of my cars to a mechanic and he did a beautiful job getting it running and doing the work. Besides a misunderstanding back in February with some of the bills for the car it’s been smooth sailing and I have been generally happy. 
 

It’s been there since November. There is still a hesitation with the car. However the project seems to be at a dead stop the last three or four weeks or so. I’m thinking I should pick it up and figure it out myself. It seems to be taking a back seat to his other cars because “it’s a project car” I feel it shouldn’t as we are no longer waiting for parts etc. and there is simple issue. Also I am sure not paying a discounted rate. 

 

anyone else go through this? Should I set a deadline for the mechanic? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fast, well done, or cheap. You can usually pick two when dealing with anything automotive, including mechanics.

 

Right now it sounds like you're getting none of the three. Is he actually a good mechanic? Plenty of folks think their "guy" is the best, but most of them are not particularly good. If there's a problem he can't solve, he's probably not all that good. At this point, what have you got to lose trying to do it yourself?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Paul Dobbin said:

Sounds like you mechanic is not interested in you[r] project and has run into something he can't understand or fix.  Bring it home.

 

I tend to agree with Paul.  I had a similar situation with

an electrical component for my 1916 car.  The electrical

shop was great with 1950's cars, but he really had to

study for my car and wasn't getting anywhere.   

 

Maybe he's a great guy and really wants to be helpful.

However, he could be delaying things because it's difficult

for him--a bit beyond his understanding, as Paul says.

There's a tendency for us all to put off things we don't like,

and jump into things we enjoy!

 

I would thank him for his efforts and pay him for the

time spent, but gracefully find another mechanic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds like he is using you and your car as a "fill in". He only works on it when he doesn't have quick paying jobs. Most unscrupulous body and repair shops will make your car unmovable once they get it in the shop. They will remove the doors and fenders and wheels and get it on jack stands. Once that happens you're in trouble. Sadly the shop that painted my cars worked that way. I was lucky that the owner and I grew up with each other, so I didn't have any issues. Whenever a car entered the shop someone made it inoperable. I witnessed it with a 30's Packard that sat for at least two years without any work done and the Packard owner was forced to get the police involved. Once the police got involved the Packard owner was given a bill for storage that the police said he needed to pay before the car was to be released. The Packard owner paid the bill and was given his car in pieces and boxes. The moral of the story is do your homework and research the shop that you are sending your car to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you need to have a man to man. Tell him youre pleased (i assume) with the work to date, however....... Ask him if he plans on getting the problem taken care of in a timely manner, if not, if he has an idea what it may be and remove the car. If he does say he wants to fix it, set a date. Tell him he has until so and so to get it done.

 

I had a great, reputable guy build my Pontiac motor. He did the job complete in about a month. Then my car sat in his shop for a year to get it installed. First shop manager was the problem. He was let go, second guy did the job.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My experience has been that when cars end up sitting around a shop for long periods of time without being worked on, they become part of the landscape. Nobody looks at them or thinks about them anymore.  Don't be too surprised if the next time you hear from this guy, he is telling you that somebody backed into your car and damaged it or that he can't find some of its parts.

 

Best to get it out of there. I would even bet that he will be glad to see it go.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, 5219 said:

My experience has been that when cars end up sitting around a shop for long periods of time without being worked on, they become part of the landscape. Nobody looks at them or thinks about them anymore.  Don't be too surprised if the next time you hear from this guy, he is telling you that somebody backed into your car and damaged it or that he can't find some of its parts.

 

Best to get it out of there. I would even bet that he will be glad to see it go.

I worked for a company similar to this here in south Florida. He takes people's life long dream car, gets a huge deposit, disassembled the car, then it sits, and sits, and sits. To the point the customer is literally stuck. Too much invested in the deposit to yank the car. Then when fed up they think about having to move the car as a basket case which most other shops won't touch and if they do, won't guarantee prior work that's been completed or that all the parts were received from previous shop. This happened with 99.9% off all the vehicles that came to this shop. When I came there as manager co-workers told me they had painted about 2 cars in the prior 2 1/2 years. I proceeded to pull 11 dusty cars from the recesses of the shop, complete the body and paint so they could go to the mechanical side and sit there for another year of excuses by the shop owner as to why the customer's car sat some more. I was able to deliver 9 of those 11 in the 2.5 years I was there before I just had to resign. Not able to take the heartbreak I watched these people go thru and the lies from the shop owner blatantly stealing their money. The longer it sat, the more money he charged either for things that weren't actually completed or for things that had to be completed several times over. Unfortunately this happens in this industry quite frequently. Thankfully I got out of there and got with an honest productive shop. I had thought I could make a difference when I first went to this "Graveyard", which I did for a while, but ended up being defeated by greed and deception. So don't get too far behind the 8 ball before you cut ties. Too many people end up buried too far to dig themselves out of the situation their "Classics" ends up being in. The terminal "Classic Graveyard". Not just here in Hollywood Florida, but all over. Good luck.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Which is why we never ask for a deposit up front. We do a month's work and bill for it. There is another problem that all resto shops face...mission creep.  Cars enter our shop for,  let's say,  some relatively minor body work.  We start on the car then the owner calls and says "As long as we are doing this body work we might as well rebuild the engine/mount 4 new tires/spruce up the upholstery/whatever".  Makes it very difficult to schedule work. When push comes to shove the tendency is to focus on the full show restorations and let the partials wait if need be. Very difficult to find additional employees with any skill these days. 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, TAKerry said:

IAsk him if he plans on getting the problem taken care of in a timely manner, if not, if he has an idea what it may be and remove the car.  If he does say he wants to fix it, set a date. Tell him he has until so and so to get it done.

 

I like the idea, when a shop has been delaying things,

of setting a deadline.  You could give them ONE last chance,

if you haven't already lost confidence in them.

 

But watch out, too:  A shop may meet that date when under

pressure, but then revert to molasses mode.  A whole series

of excuses is a sure sign for you to take your project away from them.

 

One person I read of, truly inspired in business, had a worker

who was lagging.  The firm, no-nonsense conversation went this way:

 

Boss:  Are you doing the work I gave you?

Worker:  I'm trying.

Boss:  You're either doing something, or you're not doing something.  Were you doing it?

Worker:  No, I wasn't doing it.

Boss:  Let me SEE you do it.

The worker knew that the boss took no excuses.  He would soon be out on the street if

he didn't do the work properly.  I believe that the worker became a good one after

this merited rebuke.  Too, isn't it unsurprising that such a boss achieved great things? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why not just ask him if he can have it completed by xx/xx/xxxx. If he says no, then say then I need to take the car.  If he says yes, hopefully he does it.  If not, take the car and move on.  I went through the same thing with a body shop.  They got it sanded and some primer and it sat in the corner of the garage and collected dust.  Did as I suggested above.  He said it was on his back burner.  So, I took the car elsewhere.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the way Restorer32 runs things.  I get giving full show cars priority as long as the customer is aware.  From a customer side do a week or month's work, invioce for it and address concerns at that checkpoint.  Also assuming things are moving, be the guy that pays. The guy that pays on time should be the priority and I am sure thats almost always the case.  I have no issues advancing $$ to someone (parts can be expensive and an advance here is reasonable) I trust but strangers need to earn that trust first.

 

In this case it seems OP needs to find another avenue, either home or with another guy to get his car fixed.  Hope it gets resolved without any hassle.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, padgett said:

The amount of money I've saved doing just about everything myself has paid for a lot of tools.

Padgett I generally agree with that logic.  Just bought a new lawn tractor for what we were paying landscaper annually, it will pay for itself in one year and while it takes a little time it is twice as fast at least than a walk behind would be.  So like a lot of things its the time/money sweet spot.  I have pals who do everything but chrome and maybe upholstery and others who do very little.  I favor a mix, but I understand both ends of it.  Sounds like OP does, as said above, he has nothing to lose now by doing research and taking a shot at it himself.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not mechanical but paint and body work. A guy had my car for close to three years for a complete strip down of the paint and any body work and repaint it.He managed to take the body down to bare metal,I had the fenders,hood,trunk lid and grill shell blasted.It was always one thing after another.I finally brought it home and did it myself.It's not perfect but not too bad. Thanks,Greg.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, Buick35 said:

Not mechanical but paint and body work. A guy had my car for close to three years for a complete strip down of the paint and any body work and repaint it.He managed to take the body down to bare metal,I had the fenders,hood,trunk lid and grill shell blasted.It was always one thing after another.I finally brought it home and did it myself.It's not perfect but not too bad. Thanks,Greg.

 

 

We had the same experience, should have seen the red flags up front.  The shop was small, cluttered, not especially clean, and the owners/operators were a family of hillbillies.  (Yes, that's a prejudiced stereotype but in this case it's accurate.)  But they had the reputation of their work being good, and the little they did was.  The problem was getting them to do it.  We had only the body there.  I don't remember exactly how long they had it but it was too long.  We finally took it home, my Dad learned how to do body work and did a pretty nice amateur job of it.  At least we had free storage for it while we restored the chassis and powertrain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/8/2020 at 8:48 PM, 5219 said:

My experience has been that when cars end up sitting around a shop for long periods of time without being worked on, they become part of the landscape. Nobody looks at them or thinks about them anymore.  Don't be too surprised if the next time you hear from this guy, he is telling you that somebody backed into your car and damaged it or that he can't find some of its parts.

 

Best to get it out of there. I would even bet that he will be glad to see it go.


well I went up to check on the car no progress so I brought an air sensor and four screws and a plug later it was all fixed. I settled up for the tail pipe and the brake work they did and am just waiting for the tow truck.

 

i thanked them for their work. But it was time to get it home. I still have to replace the egr valve and belts but that’s small stuff! 

AEDD8C76-70F0-4E1E-B0F6-CB985F5C027E.jpeg

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/9/2020 at 11:16 PM, 72caddy said:

And you get to learn something new...even if you have to do it twice 


Wow, only TWICE. Your lucky! I usually have at least three goes,  by that time you feel like you know what your doing. Often it is is when doing one side, you do so much. And then when doing the other side, you do something more that you didn’t do on the first side, then when redoing that, you add another touch. And so it goes around the loop until you get both sides the same. 
Rodney 😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"And you get to learn something new...even if you have to do it twice  " - hey I resemble that remark. Could never make it as a mechanic, am waaay to slow and tend to photograph everything. Besides every time it is a learning experience.

 

Just tried four different ways to achieve handsfree in the Allante (GM didn't get bluetooth right until about 2014) before finding one, mag phone holder, and a power center that blends in. Cupholder is harder.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread opens a few wounds for me! Have had this ass dragging problem a few times, cars not done on time or done incorrectly. Currently have 2 on the "back burner" The one that gets me upset the most is my F 450 tilt n' load truck. As it can actually make money for me IF it's on the road even 2 day's a week doing dealer deliveries.

 The 70 Chevelle is at my  friend's shop who is 65 years old and slowing down. Same  age as me, so I understand. Maybe time to give up the projects and buy turn key vehicles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, padgett said:

"And you get to learn something new...even if you have to do it twice  " - hey I resemble that remark. Could never make it as a mechanic, am waaay to slow and tend to photograph everything. Besides every time it is a learning experience.

 

Just tried four different ways to achieve handsfree in the Allante (GM didn't get bluetooth right until about 2014) before finding one, mag phone holder, and a power center that blends in. Cupholder is harder.

Don't mess with the electronic's in an Allante'!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the idea of settling up weekly. If I hired out something long term I would stop by every Friday to inspect progress, expect and itemized bill for the week, and pay immediately.

 

I made that arrangement with my nephew when he replaced the engine and transmission, and a long laundry list of other things on my '86 Park Ave convertible. It was good for both of us since I knew he needed his feet held to the fire.

 

Over the years there have been a few bad experiences, not many, I learn pretty quick. That "fill in" work was an early learn. If a mechanic's rate is regularly $100, bit "if he is not busy" he will work on mine for $50, you can pretty much write that car off, shops are full of them. And usually out back in the tall, wet grass. OR if the hood is broad enough it might become a storage surface..... workbench.

 

There was a story about a Model A Ford that sat in a garage for a long time, project and never legally transferred. The shop owner went senile and thought the car was his. The owner never registered it and had no proof. There's a sticky one.

 

Buy tools and develop skills. I am going out to work on the sensors for one of the 150 computers that operate on the two communication buses of my old BMW.

 

There wasn't any fairy Godmother who came along and went "proof you are a mechanic" at any shop I know of. It's a learned skill.

 

Bernie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, you did the right thing by bringing it home.. Kudos to you.

 

If we're strictly talking maintenance mechanic shops...

I like the idea of shops having a front man that can master the art of communication on every level. I strongly believe this cuts out most of the frustration I'm reading here.

 

A good front man is someone who can answer all of my wife's questions from a lady's point of view and at the same time he is someone who will take the time to answer all of your questions yet he is not intimidated or feels like he needs to make up a tall tale to get you out of the lobby. Someone that will also tell you up front if something is feasible within a specific time frame and what to expect or be honest with you if they can't do the job. Someone who will call or text you if any unforeseen problem arises so that you don't have to wait till the next day or week to know what the hell is going on.... Someone who is funny and likable but not a story teller that thinks he's funny (sorry for the flashback, you've all seen them I know..). Someone with good computer skills who isn't afraid to turn the screen and walk you through the work that will be done or the part that is needed (or in some cases, cannot be found if obsolete). 

 

A good front man is clean cut and only found in the lobby or office. He (or she) can read peoples expressions, get a feel of a customers financial situation by listening, has full mechanical training and can discuss any car issues yet has the ability to explain in lay terms so that normal non-mechanical folks can be put at ease and have the confidence things will go as planned. Also, he or she is someone who has the respect to call out a mistake the shop makes if negligent and lets you know how they are going to make it right if something happens when the vehicle is in their possession due to that negligence. Sure all of these should be standardized unwritten rules and common place in the industry but we all know they are not, never have been... 

 

A good front man cuts out most (if not all) of these issues I've seen posed on this thread. As Restorer mentioned previously however, it's hard to find qualified help, especially hard to find a good front man and owner combination willing to work together in this capacity as a team. Very rare, but when you see it and experience it you know how much the auto mechanic industry is really lacking in this area. I searched for 30 years to find it.. when my mechanic first opened I was leery but now I couldn't imagine going anywhere else. They also have a great referral network of mechanics the owner trusts if they cannot get to your work or if it's a specialty job they don't do... such as axle work or complete rebuilds, body work etc...

 

Also, I know most of us car guys have patience and respect but the average public is so damned demanding anymore... If you are reading this and happen to be one of the  impatient ones then you are setting yourself up for a bad situation without giving the shop the time to fix your issue. 

 

Kudos to Curt and Graham @SMA for finally getting it right.

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Must be abby-normal because the electronics makes perfect sense to me except I think Buick (88 Reatta) did it better. Has a separate module for everything but compensates with built in diagnostics. And I have an OTC-2000, lots of MOATES stuff, and was a member of DIY-EFI.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My first thought is to give them a reason to get the car done with a generous time frame...  AACA National meet next year, niece's wedding in 10 months,  etc... that you need the car DONE before then. My dad was too generous with vendors/shops and said "no hurry", that meant things never got done. For all I know things are still "out" over 2 years after his passing, I just don't know where they are at.

 

My mechanic has told me point blank that he would rather have me look up and find/buy parts than pay his help shop rate to do that work. Might be that I have an AMCs/Ramblers and you just don't go to the Advanced Auto website and order parts.

Edited by ia-k (see edit history)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well folks, I ended up finding the reason why the car failed smog and it was a missing rubber gasket around the hydraulic plate (unit ontop of the intake) with this missing there was a vacuum leak. Also I noticed they charged me for wheel cylinders and they were never installed in the car! Lol so I have emailed the owner now regarding this and one of my missing manuals. They did a nice job mostly but I’m glad I got it out of there! 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 When I first went into business I took in a few projects that I could work on when I didn't have any work to do,

 After a few years I got tired of walking around them and set a policy that when a car comes into the shop, it gets worked on every day until it is done.

 I'm happy, my customer is happy and I have the space to take in anything on a moments notice and work on it.

 

PS, when the vehicle is done it is picked up and paid for or storage charges start to accrue after a reasonable time.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...