A story of the crooked mechanic, my mom, and me

Just so you know, this has nothing to do with riding, but its a funny story and good example of how mechanics take advantage of the non-technicly inclined.

Yesterday, im in the car with my mom, and she realizes her jeep is due for an oil change (which I offered to do for her many a time) so we pull into the oil can henrys. Well, we get the standard oil change, and then, as this old wanker is looking under the hood, he puts on his most concerned, shocked look he can muster. He puts his hands in his pockets and waltzes over to my mother. "Ma'am, theres a problem, you're cars coolent is in serious need of replacement, and you're system needs a serious flushing." and my poor gullible mom replies, "Oh, well I better have that done then, how much is it?" and he replies "well, that'll cost you around 70 dollars. Its well worth it, otherwise you're car could overheat and you could be in some very serious trouble."

Overhearing this I get out the car and walk over to this guy, and ask him what exactly is wrong with our "coolent". He tells me that its become overused and is showing signs of breaking down. Then I asked him how water and antifreeze breaks down, and asked if he could show me the "coolent". So sure enough, he takes me over to the radiator, opens the filler cap, and says, "you see that, how its looking pretty old? It's starting to lose its cooling properties." And sure enough! He was right!!! The water was clear, and green with antifreeze!!! (not to mention that i had replaced the radiator with a new one when the old one was punctured, so the coolent was but 2 weeks old) Obviously in dire need of replacement. Well anyway, I told him that he was full of **** and if he didnt charge us anything for the oil change I wouldnt report him and the oil can henrys to the BBB.

Anyway, once again proves, that you should never let anyone who doesnt understand cars walk into any kind of service establishment alone, its like throwing a baby lamb into a circle of old, greasy bastard foxes.

You hear these things all too often. There are obviously good shops too, but getting harder & harder to find.

I took my van to get an oil change before a Colorado road trip last year. I usually do it myself, but had time was running out and took it to the Valvoline oil change joint. 3 of these 17 year old dumba$$'s proceed to change my oil. All the while they're screwing around, playing practical jokes on each other (the old grease on the shoe trick, barrel of laughs!) The kid up top checks the air filter..."looks like you could use an air filter". "Wow, thanks for reminding me, I've got a brand new one at home I can put it." He then pulls the tranny dipstick "Oh man, you need your transmission fluid changed!" "Really, how can you tell?" "Well, by the color..see.." "Looks red too me. Funny too, I just had the front & rear transfer cases replace by Ford under warranty last month...along with ALL fluids. Maybe I should call the dealership and tell them what you found? Would you mind talking with them?" "Uh, well, I just said it looks like it should be replaced, I don't really know if it's bad or not." Little jerkoff, I felt like grabbing him by the shirt collar and scaring the crap out of him.

Lol, yup, cant trust those grease monkeys. If I were them I'd at least try and find out if the person they were trying to f over knew their stuff first lmao.

Well, now your going to hear from the other side of the fence. I have been a Ford technician for 14 years, as well as a Roadrace Driver and car owner(93 Mustang Cobra, supercharged 452 Dynoed HP at the rear wheels,built by none other than myself)

I see this trend starting all over the place, People getting "ripped off" at quick change places, as well as factory dealerships.

I have one question for Baja God, When was the last time the coolant WAS changed? Do you even know? Have you checked the owners manual for the service intervals, and have you followed them?

I am not ripping on you, but I get this treatment from customers ALL the time. I do NOT rip people off, and I follow the manufactured service intervals. Do you realize that if you can't prove that you have done your maintenance, the factory can deny a related warranty claim? It DOES happen. I know we pay alot for our vehicles, but that does not mean that we can ignore them.

I get people in the shop that can't even open their hoods!!( how do they check their oil??)

If you don't trust where you are going, then go somwhere else. I can PROVE that "normal looking green" coolant CAN be past it's useful life!! I (fortunately)check PH levels, and can show my customers my results(If they want to see).An engine (especially with aluminum components) will be damaged by too high, or too low of a PH level, you also get deposits as the coolant breaks down.

Ford reccomends trans fluid replacement at 30000 mile intervals, if not done you WILL have torque converter problems down the road!! The trans oil at 30000 miles wil still look like new in most cases, but STILL needs replacement.

Scott in KC, a word of advice. No matter what kind of van you have, if it is built by Ford, will only have ONE transfer case. fluids will NOT be changed under warranty. You did not get any new fluids, except in the replaced component. The transfer case oil and transmission oil are NOT the same!!You need to do your sceduled maintenance, no matter what repairs have been done.

Well now that I've got that out of my system,let me have it!!

Really? So my AWD Ford Aerostar VAN turns the front wheels from only one transfer case? That seems contrary to what the Ford mechanic at the dealership told me on the phone. I should clarify, this was a recall issue that Ford (by the grace of God) covered, due to a failure while on the road in Colorado. And yes Ford did cover & replace the fluids and paid for two rather expensive tows. I also had them service the tranny completely as well which I paid for.

Also Baja mentioned he had repaired/replaced the radiator two weeks prior and the fluid was new.

[This message has been edited by Scott in KC (edited September 30, 2001).]

Hmm...I kind of agree. I've never seen a vehicle with two transfer cases...one, yes, and two differentials...but never two transfer cases. There should be no reason for it. I suppose you could "say" there are two, as the tranny could resemble one (driving one of the two axles).

BUT, I don't believe that just because you don't change your tranny fluid every 30,000 miles exactly that you WILL have troubles with your torque converter later on. It depends on how you drive, as to the amount of heat and "wear and tear" you place on your automatic tranny. I think even if you did change all of your fluids and do all of the "factory" recommended maintenance you would still have troubles down the road (how far down the road, again, depends on your driving conditions.) Plus, all of those "dealer maintained" vehicles carry one hell of a log of expensive "regular maintenance" that may not have been necessary. I had an uncle that didn't believe in changing the oil in his truck. He put over 150k on several trucks with no problems, and he towed heavy horse trailers up mountain hills all the time in CO. Think of the money he saved in oil changes.....

I believe in fixing things that are broken and doing preventative maintenance to protect your investment. But I'll leave you with this one last thought: I purchased a 2001 F150 4x4 from the a dealer in California, and, as always, they schedule your first "maintenance check" appointment for 4 months down the road. I asked what all that included, and he couldn't tell me to be sure (it was the finance office, so I wasn't too surprised) but he did tell me that it usually runs about $500. You tell me, how in the hell can you expect to spend $500 on a 4 month old truck?????


'98 WR400, S-3B Viking

I have performed about 100 of the recalls on the AWD aerostar, you had both HALVES of the transfer case replaced. (the 2 case halves!!) . Like I said originally, I have been a Ford technician for 14 years. I can show you Ford TSB's AND Special service bulletins that PROVE that you will have torque converter clutch problems if the fluid is not changed at the proper intervals.I have replaced quite a few torque converters because of the dreaded "shudder".

Butta, You have to read the owners manual. In the manual it tells you what needs to be done and when. I will tell you this, If your dealer said that a "maintenance check" would cost you ANYTHING, find another dealer, or ask him to show you in YOUR owners manual , where it states that. I KNOW it does not!!

I am not saying to go into these places blindly, Just give them the benefit of a doubt. Do your research, before you go in. I have a lot of respect for a customer that comes in with the maintenance book in hand. I know that customer is informed and knows what NEEDS to be done, not suckered into some MENU special, that includes services that are not needed or called for.

Not an auto mechanic by any stretch. Did check because I'm curious now, seem ALL vehicles do have only ONE transfer case, not sure where I got two from.

The point here is that in both posts above, the fluids (allegedly) had been changed. And both places, speedy oil change joints (not dealers), tried to sell additional products that were not needed. I'm sure they were just following orders from the owner, but still not right. And, yes, usually women are the target. My mom gets it too practically every time someone pops the hood on her car.

I don't think anyone is going to "let you have it". There are a just as many scams & a-holes in the real estate business too. I sell real estate and don't take offense everytime someone bitches about their real estate agent...chances are the claims are valid. Everyone drives cars, cars break down a lot and more stories arise.

A (couple) friends of mine went to a local Kaw/Yamaha dealer to buy a bike for their kid. I promised to check out any bike before they put any money down. [The kid's last bike, a Kaw KD-80 wouldn't run, and had so many wrong nuts/bolts on it it was pathetic. After $500 in repair parts, new top end, bore job, etc, the bike still wouldn't run right. Never got it fixed...Back to my story].

So I get a call from them from them at the local shop. They are looking at a used KX125. I get there and look at it. Tires, chains sprockets shot, subframe bent, fairly beat up looking. I asked the guy how the Kaw compares to RM's, YZ's, CR's. He said the KX125 is the best performer and that "Ricky Carmichael smokes the competition on one". I told him the Kaw has had a sub-par engine for awhile now, and that subframe alone will set the kid back a couple of hundred bucks, and that I hoped the frame wasn't bent as well. The guy was tap dancing his way through the conversation. He lost. My friends commented on how the salesboy's whole demeaner changed when I got there. He went to the "full defensive" mode. They didn't buy and they thanked me. He bought a new TTR225. The one without any adjustments on the carb...


'99 WZ/YR (you choose!) with ALL YZ mods, de-octopused, DSP Doug Henry airbox w/ velocity stack, FMF PowerBomb header, Stroker SX-1 silencer, SS front brake line, OEM YZ tank, IMS YZ seat.

I know that not all mechanics are like, that not saying there are, most mechanics are perfectly honest, its just annoying when you find this kind of guy.

Also if you read my post you would have seen that I said I had replaced the radiator on my moms jeep 2 weeks prior and therefore had put new coolent in it. I know coolent does need replacing after awhile, but I do it every year or so anyway. Yes I have checked the manual, in fact I have a shop manual which I refer to (which I needed because I installed a new clutch on it a few years ago(thanked the guy for informing me of the fact)). Of course we need mechanics, most people dont have the time or the know how to do these things. Just every now and then you come across a guy like this.

[This message has been edited by BajaGod (edited September 30, 2001).]

Yeah, I know I should have read further into your post, Sorry about that. I just am very proud of my profession, and have been getting slammed pretty hard lately by the press. Just a little "defensive" I guess!!

See ya


You mean to say that you wouldn't buy it if I said you need to rotate the air in your tires?

Let me put a different twist on this Hick.

I had a Used 2000 Expedition That came in, because of "loose Ball joints". The vehicle was just safety inspected by us, and was sold only a few days earlier. The customer's Dad performed his own inspection, and found "loose ball joints". I inspected the truck and found no problems. I informed the customer that there was no problem. I was immediately called a "liar" who was trying to "rip him off".

The next day the customers Dad comes in, spouting off about turning us in to the state, and coming up with other "problems" with the truck as well. I put the truck on the lift, and TRIED to show him that there was nothing wrong. He wouldn't even look under the truck, because he had "already done that!!". I asked him to show me what was loose, he said he didn't remember!! I put up with these kinds of people every day!!

I spend approximately 2500 dollars a year on tools, I spend approximately 30 days a year in school to understand these vehicles.

What I have found from experience, is that most people that are worried about getting ripped off, are usually the types to rip somebody off.

I agree there are some scoundrels out there, but if you have a problem with a dealership, contact the manufacturer!! They WILL solve your problem.

Back to the original story by Bajagod,

Why did you feel you deserved the oil change for free? You sold yourself short , in my opinion. You got an oil change, you should have paid fo it. If you thought you were being misled, turn them in!! You basically black mailed them into a free oil change!!

Don't get me wrong, I don't know you, and I don't think you are a bad person, but I don't see what justified you getting something for nothing!!

I will now brace myself for the beating I am surely going to get!!


00 WZ400

01 Yamaha Raptor

99 Kawasaki ZRX1100

99 Yamaha Warrior

If you don't trust an outfit to do the proper repairs or maintenance on your rigs then, learn how to do it yourself! It's that simple. BTW..Dave.....RELAX, nobody's trying to generalize wrenches here, seems just a little wake up call for everyone to BE AWARE of what's going on around them ! We all learned a painful lesson 3 weeks ago about being aware of the SH*T that's going on around us and dealing with it, all the while staying frosty and dealing with the problem with a cool demeanor. Just my thoughts.

Originally posted by Dave VanBrocklin:

Let me put a different twist on this Hick.

…I have found from experience, is that most people that are worried about getting ripped off, are usually the types to rip somebody off.

Well put Dave, I always liked the tried and true saying, “you can’t cheat an honest man,” that seems to apply to your experience.

Appearances can be deceiving, so I give EVERYBODY the benefit of the doubt until I’ve had the time to talk to them. I’m smart enough (and coy enough) to tell when someone is yanking my chain, but if they don’t take the bait then I trust them implicitly from that point forward.

But the problem is that people like my Mom are always vulnerable, easy targets for even the least clever yet unscrupulous mechanic. “Sealed” transmission. Give me a break!! I never, ever, use a mechanic but spend lots of time talking to them for the benefit of my friends and family and consistently find the bad apples I mentioned.

“Picking” a good one you can trust is hard when the dealer who sold you the car to begin with allows (promotes?) that kind of behavior in their shop. They are one of her more important accounts (for her Ad & PR company) so needless to say my Mom wouldn’t let me go down there and talk to them. Can you believe that? I’m sure somebody got chewed out over that because it made them look pretty, um, unprofessional. So calling the mfg. probably wasn’t necessary (or prudent for my Mom’s sake) in this case.

But like the saying in my first sentence, the people most afraid of being screwed are those who would do it to you (and think that everybody else is like them). I guess all you can do is try not to let their problem become your problem Dave, but your point is well made.

I had a guy try to charge me an extra $25 to remove the skid plates on my "95 Pathfinder so he could access the oil filter, (which is easily reached from the top of the vehicle) ....... I told him I dont have any skid plates....... He argued with me about it until he was blue in the face and the manager had to come over, and I wanted to kill him, ah, I mean bring severe bodily harm to him, nope, ah, hurt him badly,. nope, what is pollitically correct? Kick him in the nuts?

Good one about the skids, and sealed tranny. Upon relating this story to a friend, he related another story.

He had just taken his front wheel drive acura integra in to get an annual maintanince job. And when he came back to see what they wanted to do, they guy gave him the usual run down, and then told him, buttt theres a problem. You're rear differential is shot all to hell, were gonna have to replace it. Well, he's no master wrench but he knows enough about cars to know a front wheel drive car has no rear dif. Anyway, nothing became of it and he just gave the guy some choice words.

Once again, allow me to reiterate, I know there are plenty honest wrenchs out there (my dads friend works for a service shop), its just seems that this is a rising trend, and all should be aware.

[This message has been edited by BajaGod (edited October 01, 2001).]

Good to get a real factory wrench in on this debate, but in my experience dealers are NOT immune to this rip-off/idiot scourge that affects many mechanics. It sounds like most of the lip you get from customers originates from their (in this case, mistaken) belief that you and your dealership are about to rip them off. I wonder where they got that idea?

A case of a few bad apples making the whole barrel smell bad.

True story:

My mom bought a new Ford Expedition, 2WD, and immediately began experiencing problems. She called me at work and based on her limited description (Mom is not at all mechanically inclined) I told her “it sounds like your tranny fluid is low or something.”

Armed with this guess she visits the dealer, Shamaley Ford in El Paso, and says “I think the transmission fluid level may be low” and describes to them the same symptoms she related to me. The response she got, from the service manager and a tech was that “this vehicle has a sealed system, leaks are impossible and the level cannot be checked.” The next day her car stopped driving altogether, it had run out of fluid.

It took me all of one minute to crawl under there and see where the oil cooler lines were leaking. *******s. I guarantee they wouldn’t have tried to ply that bull**** story to a guy. Sexist *******s.

Just another reason why many people don’t trust mechanics Dave. That isn’t the only dealership story I have either, I just picked that one because you are a Ford guy :)

I don’t know if I can really sympathize with your plight, but I would say that folks skepticism about the relative honesty of auto mechanics is, at least in part, well warranted.

Dave VanBrocklin, buddy, if you are as good as you claim, and you are as honest as you claim, i don't understand why you need to defend the actions of 'dodgy mechanics'. If you are all that, you should have nothing to worry about! The truth is that there heaps of dumb ass 'mechanics' that are not only dodgy but willing to rip off customers. Look at the performace car industry. There are heaps of performace car work shops around my area and i bet if you approched them all with the same question about modifying your car, you would recieve different answers. They all can't be right! One workshop near me doesn't believe in using wastegates to control boost pressure. They prefer to use a plenum mounted pop off valve to vent off excess pressure (HKS unit i might add $$$). This may be fine for a strip only car (20psi+) but for a street car wanting to run 10psi? not sure if i like the turbo to run at maximum effciency all the time just to get to work!

So, since you seem to be a bit bad tempered, i will obviously cop some abuse. But like i said, if you are as good as you claim, im sure you have customers that come to you exclusivly and only trust you with their pride and joy. If this is the case, why are you so mad? There are heaps of BAD mechanics. Oh, and there is also heaps of bad builders, painters, panel beaters, accountants, buisness managers, etc....

just out of interest only, how many pounds was your Cobra running to make 452HP?


I am not mad, just a trying to let you guys get the view from the other side of the fence. I agree, and have agreed, that there are crooked people out there. I also agree that ther are some "dumb asses" out there. But I am saying that this is a 2 way street. I have customers that can't open their own hood!! I have seen a big rise in deception, and finger pointing from the customer's side also.

I still believe, that when you walk into a repair shop, youbetter have your eyes open. But, you better do the same when you go to the doctor, go to buy a new TV, and so on.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job, and yes I do have alot of loyal customers(I am the only SVT certified tech in the area).I'm just defending my fellow techs out there.

Just don't throw us all into the same category.


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