A customer went into an auto repair shop with a common complaint of the car ac not blowing cold air. They took their 1996 Chevy Cavalier Z24 Coupe into a franchise type shop and asked for an estimate to repair the air conditioning. The facility provided a whopper of an estimate for replacing almost every AC component.
This shop wanted to replace the ac compressor and almost all of the parts that attached to the compressor. The customer got me involved before any repairs were approved. After making some notes on what the owner was told I called the shop. The service adviser notified me that the ac compressor had internal damage and spread metal through the system. This was believable and I have seen this happen before.
But I decided to ask a few questions before I recommended the owner approve the auto repairs. First I asked the service adviser what the pressure readings were on the high and low side. The adviser stated he would find out and call me back. Two hours latter he called back and notified me that the system was empty and the Freon had leaked out.
The red flag went up. When an automotive air conditioning system is empty the compressor will not come on and testing is not possible. The standard procedure would be to test charge the system and with the compressor running to properly diagnose the failure.
I questioned the auto shop how they determined the compressor was bad and spread metal through the system without having run the compressor. He said that his technician was familiar with this make and model vehicle and that compressor failures are common for this type of vehicle.
At this point I called the customer and recommended to move the vehicle. I informed the vehicle owner that this shop did no diagnosis and was planning on replacing all the parts and hoping the vehicle would be fixed.
The customer agreed and moved the vehicle to an a/c specialty shop. I decided to tell this story because the results are funny to me. The ac shop test charged the system and found a leaking evaporator.
This was the one part that the first shop left out of the estimate. The first shop would have replaced all of those good parts and left the one bad part remaining. Why did they leave the evaporator out of the estimate?
The reason is that the evaporator is hard to replace. The first shop was only interested in doing the easier repairs and hoping it would fix the problem. Now the car is fixed and the owner avoided replacing $1500.00 of ac components that were not needed.
Toyota Dealer Repair Shop
This next case was a problem with a 2002 Toyota Corolla. Yes even Toyota’s can have mechanical problems. In this case the vehicle owner notified me that her engine was leaking oil and wanted to know if this would be covered under warranty. The vehicle warranty was 3 years or 36,000 miles which ever came first.
The customer’s odometer was showing 36,125 miles, just over the warranty limit. I was surprised the car was having this problem because for the most part Toyota’s are very well built. I did some research and found out the vehicle had brand new technology in the engine compartment.
This vehicle had the first year for a new engine know as the variable valve timing (VVTI). I used a service to research factory issued technical service bulletins (TSB). The very first one was about engine oil leaks from the front timing cover.
I faxed over a copy of the TSB and the owner took her vehicle to the Toyota dealer instead of an auto repair shop. The dealership performed the repairs under warranty even though it was technically out of warranty by miles. The customer was looking at her receipt and the repairs did not match the repairs that I sent her in the TSB. I had her fax me a copy.
Would a Dealership Actually Steal
The warranty paper work stated that the dealer replaced the cylinder head gasket and not the timing cover seal that had been updated by Toyota. I called the dealer to find out why the receipt did not match the repair.
I wanted to make sure that the redesigned timing cover seal was installed to avoid future problems. The service adviser honesty surprised me. He stated the timing cover seal was replaced with the updated part number but they had charged Toyota to replace the head gasket because the head gasket operation paid more labor.They where actually biting the hand that feeds them.
So the answer is yes, this meant that the dealership was actually stealing from the Toyota factory. When I went back to the customer and told her the story she asked me to drop it.
She didn’t want to get the dealer in trouble because as far as she was concerned the car was fixed. The customer felt that looking out for the Toyota corporation was not her responsibility.
I agreed to drop it but I wanted to tell you the story. If the dealer cannot scam you they can still scam the factory. In some cases the dealerships lust for money knows no boundaries. They will sometimes practice this biting the hand that feeds them tactic.
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