1st Gear Newbie
Join Date: Jun 2012
My Mechanic Horror Story
My Mechanic Horror Story
We all dread the stealerships and mechanics. I dread visits to the mechanics more than the dentist because at least the dentist knows what he is doing. I mean, you don’t pay the dentist to fix a tooth that has no problem. But with mechanics this seems normal practice.
Here is my mechanic story.
I bought my beloved BMW few months ago. I knew it had problems as I took it to RMP Motors for pre-purchase inspection. But I bought it anyway because I was in love with it—it was just like I wanted it. Then I looked for a second opinion and a mechanic closer to my home because I live in east of Toronto and RMP Motors is in the west. Soon enough a mechanic was recommended on this forum that’s close to my home so I decided to give him a try. (Please don’t ask who it is, as I won’t say.)
I called him and sure enough he was very, very nice—he is genuinely a nice guy! He is very friendly, very approachable, he explains the problem well, and he gives you his attention. The problem is: he is really unfamiliar with BMWs, or cars in general (at least that’s how it seemed most times). Here is what happened.
I had my tires and rotors replaced and the wheels were balanced and aligned and as soon as I took it out of the shop the whole car was shaking violently—almost like it was one of those dancing hydraulic rides! He told me on the phone when he was done that the car shakes and he doesn’t know why, but when I went to pick it up I was so surprised by how noticeable the shake was. A friend was with me thought it was even unsafe to drive it on the highway like that. It shock even when the car was idle! Anyway, next day this violent shake went away but the shimmy problem remained.
The car has a shimmy problem (most noticeable at high speeds) so he told me that the driver side drive shaft needs replacing because it was moving in and out and it’s vibrating when the car is run while being hoisted. So I thought, if that fixes the problem then I will have it replaced. The problem is that after spending $500 and a full day without the car the shimmy problem was there just as much as before. He was very confident that he had solved the shimmy problem, and was very shocked and kind of sad when he found out it was still there. (He couldn’t test drive the car at high speeds because it was rush hour when I went to pick it up. But I let him know the next day that the problem was still there and that the drive shaft changed nothing.) His next diagnose was that the passenger side drive shaft needed replacing but I did not go ahead with that because I was not sure he is competent enough to solve the problem. Here is why:
After researching on the Internet and talking to Rocco of RMP Motors I found out that it’s normal for the car to vibrate when run on a hoist because the car is under no load. I also read, and was told by Rocco, that it is normal for one drive shaft to move in and out. So I paid that mechanic for a drive shaft I did not need as it solved no problem. Also, that mechanic suspected the car’s chassis needs pulling—that would be the last thing I would consider when solving a shimmy problem!!! Oh, and that driver side drive shaft that he replaced? Well, it needed replacing because some rubber was coming off, but since it was under warranty it cost me nothing. Like I said, he is a nice guy.
Then I took the car to him because noise was coming from the right back wheel. He opened the wheel and sanded the brake pad and, as in the case of the drive shaft, he was very confident that he had solved the problem. I drove away and the noise was still there so I went back to him. He said to give it a week to see if the noise goes away or not. But after 2 days I had had enough of the noise and went back to him. He again took the brake pads out and sanded them. That’s when I remembered that 2 weeks ago I started using my handbrake when parking at my residence since my parking spot has quite a slope, so I asked him to look into the handbrake’s mechanism. And sure enough the handbrake discs were worn out and rusty so he sanded them and sprayed them with oil and the problem was solved. When he was putting the handbrake discs back on I noticed there was a spring on the floor so I asked him about it. He saw it and said, “Thanks for telling me because I did not see it!” And I was thinking, “You don’t need to see it! All you need to know is that this mechanism needs two springs and you put only one back!” Imagine I wasn’t there and I drove away with half assembled handbrake discs inside the wheel’s hub!
Then there was the engine light problem. So I took the car to him to scan it and he told me it’s the secondary air pump. And I was thinking, “Why does this car have one problem after another?” He reset it and told me that it should be ok. A week later the engine light came on and I took the car to him again, and again he said it’s the secondary air pump and that it’s not something I should worry about. Then I took the car to him to fix a gasket leak. It took him a day to fix it and in the test drive afterwards the car shut down while his mechanic was driving it! So he asked if this had ever happened to me and I told him that was the first time! He told me that it was the gas I was using (because I was using regular gas) and that I should only use premium gas from Shell. So he suggested I go buy Octane booster and keep burning the gas I have in the tank and to only use premium gas from now on. So for a whole week I kept trying to “clean” the engine from the “bad” gas. $200 in gas expenses and a week later I took the car to him and told him that the Octane booster and premium gas are not solving the problem, and I am starting a new job in Woodbridge which means I will be stuck in rush hour every day and I can’t have the car shut down every time I brake! He scanned it again and his scanner showed the following problems: air sensor, secondary air pump, throttle position, and a couple of other things which I can’t remember. He found some loose hose and he connected it to the air intake and was 100% sure he had fixed the problem. After spending 1 week of worrying and 3 days in a row at his shop I was eager to hear those words! But sure enough: he fixed nothing as the car kept shutting down when braking. Do you know what he told me? He asked, “How hard are you braking?” I answered, “I don’t know, normal braking. Hard when I need to, and not too hard when I don’t need to.” And do you know what he said? He said, “It’s normal for all cars to shut down under heavy braking”!!! O_o Can you imagine a major car company designing a car that shuts down under heavy braking? How can such a design idea even pass safety regulations? Oh, I am on the highway and I am trying to avoid an accident by braking and steering way, but you know the engine shuts down—by design!
So I finally gave up on him as I had one day to get the car fixed before I start my new job and I can’t take a day off on my first week of work! So I took the car to RMP Motors. (To be fair, the first mechanic was nice enough to suggest I go seek the opinion of a second mechanic. He isn’t a scammer—he just doesn’t know what he is doing.) Rocco scanned the car and told me, “This code means there is a vacuum leak.” He opened the hood, and 1 minute later he found out what’s the problem, and 1 minute later the car was fixed! Just like that! In 5 minutes I had a working engine again! And I never saw the engine light again! Rocco was also 100% he had fixed the problem, the only difference between the first mechanic and Rocco is that Rocco fixed the problem—he knew what he was doing! That was it for me: I decide then that I would only take my car to RMP Motors from now on.
There was also this time when that mechanic was balancing my tires and his balancing machine kept giving him different measurements. So he took it off of the wooden base it was on because it was just a broken wooden palette, but it still gave him different measurements every time he tested the same tire! I was standing there thinking, “Does anything go as planned in this place? Is there a single qualified mechanic in this shop?”
To be fair to the mechanic, he charged me almost nothing for all the time he spent inspecting my car for the shimmy problem and engine shut down problem. But again, he fixed almost nothing, and I did end up wasting a lot of time at his shop and a lot of time worrying!
For all of you who want to save a dollar or two by taking your car to a cheap mechanic: think about all the time you will spend worrying and the time you will spend at his shop and away from working and making money! If you want to save money then don’t buy a BMW! If you buy a BMW then take it to a competent mechanic like RMP Motors! I took my BMW to a mechanic who didn’t know what he was doing and it cost me $700 ($500 for the drive shaft, and $200 in gas and Octane booster!)—learn from my mistakes! Also, if I had taken the car to a proper mechanic from the first time may be now I would be enjoying it instead of trying to fix it all over again!
So what is wrong with the first mechanic? Here is what I think are his main weaknesses:
1) He has no experience. He has 16 years experience working for BMW, and 2 years in his shop, but he really doesn’t seem to know what’s wrong when a car has a problem. At least he doesn’t seem to know BMWs well, but then again he didn’t even know how to fix the noise in the rear wheel! And I am sure all cars don’t shut down under hard braking! (Manual cars might if the drive doesn’t know what he is doing, but definitely not automatic ones!)
2) Almost every time I went to his shop he was on his cell phone. I wished for once he was focused only on what’s wrong with my car. That’s why the second mechanic ended up doing a lot of the work.
3) He did not have a BMW scanner so he used a generic scanner which gave him strange codes every time the engine light came on.
4) Most importantly he seems to guess what’s the problem (since he doesn’t seem to have the knowledge, guessing seems to be his method) and stick with that idea! So, the shimmy must be from the drive shaft—if it’s not the driver side then it’s the passenger side. (He could be right, after all I haven’t replaced the passenger side drive shaft!) The engine shut down problem must be because of the fuel, if putting Octane doesn’t work then put more Octane, if putting premium gas from Shell doesn’t work then put more premium gas from Shell. The noise from the rear wheel must be from the brake pads, if sanding the brake pads doesn’t work then sand them again and again and again! And if all of the above don’t work then give it a week and redo the above steps again!