Monday, September 21, 2009
Help Me Howard: Car Repair Shop
Have you ever had to take your car to a repair shop? Ever wondered if you got what you paid for or maybe you got ripped off? But how can you know if your mechanic is honest? It's why one man called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Tim Griffith: "It's just a wonderful place to come worship."
Tim Griffith is a minister at 93rd Street Baptist Church in Miami.
Tim Griffith: "The best part for me, in which all of us ministers do, is we want to inspire hope."
Tim has a wonderful attitude, thinks the best of everybody and wants to help everyone do their best, but even positive people have negative experiences.
Tim Griffith: "My car wouldn't start at all, wouldn't start at all. Didn't know what was wrong with my car."
Tim had his PT Cruiser towed to a repair shop where the bad news got worse.
Tim Griffith: "Once they did the diagnostics, the manager came back out to me and he said, 'Your engine is gone, you've blown every valve you can have in your engine. It's totally destroyed.'"
Finally, the worst news, the estimate to repair the car.
Tim Griffith: "Totaled about $6,000. Yeah, that did surprise me, that really surprised me, that shocked me. When he said that, it just didn't sit right in my spirit."
So Tim paid the shop for their diagnosis and had the car towed to another repair shop where he got some good news.
Tim Griffith: "My engine was not blown at all. He changed the water pump, he changed the timing belt and he put two motor mounts on my car for $912."
If you aren't a math whiz, that's a $5,000 difference between the first and second shops.
Tim Griffith: "I think they were trying to rip me off emphatically."
The $912 repair has Tim's car humming along, but Tim is still troubled, convinced the first shop tried to take him for $6,000, that it was not just a mistake.
Tim Griffith: "No, this was not an honest mistake because I even said to the manger there when I talked to him I said, 'Are you sure?'"
But how do you prove someone tried to rip you off, and what can you do, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "You would have to have an expert testify in court that what the mechanic said was false and knew or should have known it was false, but the mechanic can plead ignorance, say, 'I made a mistake' and be off the hook. Your best solution is to do what Tim did, get a second opinion."
When we spoke to the repair shop, they told us their diagnosis revealed a broken timing belt, and when that happens in this type of engine, most of the time internal engine damage occurs. They also told us to compensate Mr. Griffith for any inconvenience, we will offer him a refund for the diagnostic work we performed. Howard says if you are going to a repair shop, know who you are dealing with.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are going to get a vehicle repaired, stick to people you know or mechanics your friends use. I have been going to the same place for 20 years. I know them, they know me, and I know they will do good work for a reasonable price."
Tim was smart and got a second opinion and saved $5,000 by doing it.
Tim Griffith: "It happened to me, but I don't want it to happen to nobody else, and if this story can do that, then I believe we will be better by it."
Patrick Fraser: "And Tim's story reminds me, so often I hear from people who check on a company after they buy a product or pay for something to be done. It sounds simple: check before you open your wallet. It can save you a lot of headaches and cash, and speaking of checking, you can contact the State of Florida to check on repair shops."
Estimate you are about to break down? Contact us. We will crank up a solution for you at no cost.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services