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Old 12-17-2018, 11:18 AM   #1
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Misadventures in car repair

My stepson has a 2012 Chevy Sonic econobox w/1.8 ecotec. The college kid’s car only has 80k miles, non-working heater and check engine light on triggered a stop at the dealer, who diagnosed it as having a blown a head gasket, an unrelated oil leak, and a needing an estimated $6k in repairs. What’s the Kelly Blue Book value on this car you ask? About $6k. No thanks.


I found a local guy who only does head gaskets to take care of the biggest problem. We rolled the dice on this mobile mechanic, I checked the head surface myself with a precision straight edge, on his recommendation there was no need to re-surface the head. The guy and his helper did a bang up job for $900 including a new timing belt and water pump!


After 200 check engine light-free and normal running miles, and being convinced that was solved, the next thing to tackle was the oil dripping onto the catalytic converter, making his car appear as though he was performing mosquito abatement. The dealer’s service advisor wanted a new oil filter/cooler housing, all the seals, a new oil pan, new transmission mount for $2k parts and labor. I began searching around the net and YouTube for common oil leaks and fixes on this engine. I crawl under and diagnose the oil cooler seals, which leak onto the oil pan and cat.


I dive into it Saturday morning, replacing all 8 of the oil filter/oil cooler and coolant pipe seals, button it up, but it’s still leaking oil.



It’s looks like the oil pan is indeed also leaking from the pan rail area. There’s no crossmember in the way, making it a pretty straightforward job.


At oil pan disassembly I notice 4 (of the 16 or so) oil pan bolts are loose, and an extra thick layer of super-duty sealer on the leaking end of the pan, but the other end of the pan seemed tighter fitting. Imagine a wedge, where one end has a sealer filled 2mm gap and sorta snug, the other ‘bolts tight’ end of the pan .01mm with a thin layer of RTV, as it should be. I had to grind 1mm off of the outside diameter of my socket, to reach in and remove two of the buried and loose bolts. These were probably never tightened. It gets better; one of the accessible ‘loose bolts’ that I removed has a different head, as if someone misplaced one of the originals. It turns out that odd bolt wasn’t threaded in at all, rather, glued in place with what I recognize as 3M weather strip adhesive. Worse, the corresponding threaded hole in the block, had the remains of a previously broken off bolt, filed flush with the surrounding block sealing surface.


So the last clown to work on this thing couldn’t figure out how to get some of the buried bolts fully tight, maybe as far back as the factory. Since he couldn’t get them tight, he over-tightened one of the neighboring M6 bolts to the point it broke off. It no doubt still leaked. Like a cat covering up shit, he resorted to super-duty, high build sealer, gluing a faux bolt in place of the one he broke off, not tightening the two buried bolts because he wouldn't modify one of his tools, and sent the customer on his way. Of course, it started leaking again recently, some miles later. Enter the hapless step dad, who’s trying to save the college kid some money, that gets to repair some Philistine’s bullshit hack job.


Somewhere there’s an ASE Certified dealership mechanic that has no business owning a toolbox, let alone working on customers cars in exchange for money. Ladies and gentlemen, they walk among us!
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Old 12-17-2018, 12:08 PM   #2
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... Ladies and gentlemen, they walk among us!

in high numbers too.


I currently work at a local college and am part of the automotive program. while the program yields some damn smart cookies, it also unearths some real gems that have zero business wrenching on anything, ever. I am not one to talk, but I do have a basic understanding of this trade. some of the students I see come through here strike me as someone who threw a dart to choose their profession. its scary sometimes. the first day we have new students out in the lab putting cars on lifts is so nerve-racking for me...its just scary to watch, lol.
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Old 12-17-2018, 03:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TomsBeast View Post
...Since he couldn’t get them tight, he over-tightened one of the neighboring M6 bolts to the point it broke off. It no doubt still leaked. Like a cat covering up shit, he resorted to super-duty, high build sealer, gluing a faux bolt in place of the one he broke off, not tightening the two buried bolts because he wouldn't modify one of his tools, and sent the customer on his way...
Over the course of many years (age showing now) I too have had "hacks" complete work on a couple vehicles, but have to say I dont believe I've ever even heard of such a blatant deception.
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Old 12-17-2018, 05:01 PM   #4
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Too bad there's no one to report this too...
Or is there?
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Old 12-18-2018, 06:22 AM   #5
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The irony is, it probably took almost as much work to hide the issues as it would have to just fix them correctly.
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Old 12-18-2018, 07:28 AM   #6
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Too bad there's no one to report this too...
Or is there?

If we can find a receipt or history through the dealer of an oil pan leak repair, you can bet we will be demanding money back, for the original repair. I'm suuuuure that will go over well. Ever argue with a service manager? Deny, obfuscate, pivot, it's like trying to pin jello to a wall, or chasing a monkey around a tree... you feel as though you've gone 5 rounds in a verbal boxing ring with a lawyer


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The irony is, it probably took almost as much work to hide the issues as it would have to just fix them correctly.

It wasn't that difficult; After removing all the goop, I dry-fit the diecast oil pan, to make sure it set flat and flush, slidng it back and forth, trying to get it to rock, ensuring it wasn't bent or warped. I went over both surfaces with a second cut file, removing the slightest burr, scrape marks and impefections from removing sealant. I used an Easy-out to remove the broken bolt from the hole, file it flat, center punch, small drill, tap in the Easy-out, back out the broken bolt. I had a M6 x 1.0 tap at the ready in case I buggered the threads, which I didn't. This is real standard stuff for anyone with a toolbox and skills beyond shadetree-mechanic status. Or access to YouTube for crying out loud. At $120/hr dealership labor rates, I expect professionalism that I so rarely see.



If I did that, I couldn't sleep at night knowing I perpetrated such a low, underhanded, paste-patch-and-run job. But that's me. The older I get, the more I realize I'm the weirdo, I'm the principled m'f'er that fixes things the right way, at least to the best of my ability, and sleep like a baby.
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Old 12-18-2018, 08:37 AM   #7
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IIRC, Calif has the Bureau of Automotive Repair where you can file a complaint. Of course now that you fixed it, there may be no recourse there. If anything, they'll claim they weren't given the opportunity to make it right. Maybe you could get your money back? Did you take a lot of photos?


https://bar.ca.gov/Consumer/Complaints/index.html




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Old 12-18-2018, 08:37 AM   #8
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After working at a Ford dealership for 24 years, I've come to expect workmanship of this nature. I've always apologized and offered to 'make it right.' Only a few times has the owner been sued... I couldn't watch every tech and check every bolt. I soon realized when I hired a 'hack'. The days of quality employees are over, and the industry is seeing the good ones retire with all their collective knowledge going with them. We are left with parts replacers throwing parts at a vehicle hoping it solves the problem if the OBDII didn't say exactly what the diagnosis was. I finally got fed up and retired as well. This country is not investing in the trades. Companies are not investing in their employees. The training is not there. Neither is conscience. It's become a revolving door. A hack gets fired, and goes across the street and gets a job there, because that shop just fired their hack. A few years later they were back on my door step being hired, because there was no one working in the stalls. I got fed up working in the office, and in the shop, and cleaning the toilets, then apologizing for it. Don't feel bad, I was easily replaced. By a hack that couldn't hack it. And the band played on...
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Old 12-18-2018, 02:04 PM   #9
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The tragedy - when they're finally flushed from one industry there's a good chance their talents have transferred to another...like cooking your food!
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:51 PM   #10
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But someone told me that they would MAGA and it would be like post WWII USA again with all the winning...

They also told me that you had to go to college to be successful and start my career earning money for people with more power than me. With years of student loans I could earn 6 figures and retire by the time my body is falling apart.

Drugs are still bad right? Credit cards and loans help me gain more credit right?

Why can't I believe all these people?

Maybe it's because we are just sacks of meat with compulsive consumption and no fear of predators that allow us to be so easily led into being mindless sheep?

Anyway red RTV tastes great on a hot dog.
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