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Old 06-17-2012, 04:04 AM   #1
BMWfan
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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!
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:04 AM   #2
BMWfan
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***

You know, it’s such a shame. I am a professional and my job has to do with design. If a client comes to me asking me to solve a problem then I design something for him and after he orders it he finds out it doesn’t work, guess what? I will bear the responsibility and costs. It’s not his job to know if the design works or not—it’s my responsibility because I am the designer and he came to me! Same thing with mechanics: a customer doesn’t know why his car shakes—that’s why he came to you! He doesn’t know if it’s the drive shaft, the wheels, the whatever, or even if the chassis needs pulling or not! You are the mechanic and it’s your responsibility to diagnose the problem correctly. If you don’t know then say, “I don’t know. Sorry.” There is no shame in not knowing. But if you claim to know and you are wrong then you should bear the costs—all of it (parts and labour). Don’t rationalize it or try to cover it up, or pretend it didn’t happen. Or try to explain how the change was beneficial. If it did not solve the problem then it was no beneficial. Why do I need a new drive shaft if the car shakes just as before? It’s not like I day dream about a shinny drive shaft! Do the right thing. It’s shameful to mislead someone who trusted you with their car, money, and time. You have a shop, and want good reputation, and claim to be a professional car mechanic. Guess what? Doing the right thing is part of being professional. BMW owners buy BMWs because they are passionate about the brand, and not because they are millionaires. We work hard for our money too, you know. We wake up early in the morning, and get stuck in rush hour too, and have to deal with difficult bosses and co-workers, and earn our money 1 dollar at a time, and have to pay the bills too.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:36 AM   #3
blakneto
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+1 - chalk it up to a "learning experience"
I find the more educated you are about these cars, the better position that you are in.
The amount of gas you pay to go to RMP, probably would have saved you the headaches.
Plus, RMP are pretty detailed with their inspections, would they not have listed some of these issues?

RMP does damn good work!
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:47 AM   #4
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taking a more newer BMW to a general mechanic is like taking a medical problem that needs a specialist to a GP. You DON'T do it. These cars are very specific and require this type of attention. I suspect the shimmy is poor balancing and possible control arm bushings -not uncommon. However, in fairness, not even BMW tech can know and sometimes they guess and not always get it right. I've seen it, worked with them too. as mentioned it helps to be knowledgeable to a degree about these cars as you can help yourself whether to take to a reputable shop.

I once took a bmw to get painted. I got a decent quote but when the car was finished it was a horrible job. I realized what HE thought was good wasn't so clearly he wasn't a professional. I wanted my car out of there after 3 weeks so I went there and used their space to water sand and polish -2 more weeks as I worked at the time. I learned my lesson; would I go back..? I ran for the hills. NEVER! lesson learned.

as said, consider it a learning experience and from here on in you'll probably save yourself a lot of money in the long run going to a reputable shop.
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I think I've had 14 bmw's in 4 years.
2 IX's -sold and parts
2 325i 4 dr - sold
4 318is all white - sold and parts
1 87 325is red - parts
1 89 325i vert grey - parts
1 90 325is white - keepin
1 87 325i vert -red - keepin
latest addition 1 88-325is red - parts
latest addition 1 89-325i vert - white -fixin/sold
latest addition 1 92-318i vert - blue - parts
latest addition 1 87 325is blk - parts.

latest addition as of 2013-Gold 87-325is auto! it's a keeper!
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:15 AM   #5
BMWfan
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It is a reputable shop. I found the shop by it being recommended more than once here on the maxbimmer forums. And the mechanic is a certified BMW mechanic with over 15 years experience working at a BMW dealership, and also working independently for few years. He is not a general mechanic, and from all appearances and recommendations he seemed to be the right person to fix a BMW.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWfan View Post
It is a reputable shop. I found the shop by it being recommended more than once here on the maxbimmer forums. And the mechanic is a certified BMW mechanic with over 15 years experience working at a BMW dealership, and also working independently for few years. He is not a general mechanic, and from all appearances and recommendations he seemed to be the right person to fix a BMW.
yeah, and lots of the tech work flat rate. Do you know how that works? if they can't diagnose a problem within a specific time allowance, time = $ they start losing money. So they make up shit, and replace what doesn't need replacing or at the very best get close to what needs replacing. Whether under warranty or not and get paid on it. Customer pays jobs are gravy. Warranty not. Doesn't mean because he licensed he's good at what he does. One would figure YES; but not always. Maybe he was smoking something funny or just having and "off"day.. I'm no tech, but I know enough that one should double check their work and if a spring is missing then find it.

Now if he been open for a while but doesn't have the right equipment to diagnose then he's not gonna get the right code to solve his problem.

Maybe it was just a one off day(s) or shop? the whole situation sounds really weird.

bummer.
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I think I've had 14 bmw's in 4 years.
2 IX's -sold and parts
2 325i 4 dr - sold
4 318is all white - sold and parts
1 87 325is red - parts
1 89 325i vert grey - parts
1 90 325is white - keepin
1 87 325i vert -red - keepin
latest addition 1 88-325is red - parts
latest addition 1 89-325i vert - white -fixin/sold
latest addition 1 92-318i vert - blue - parts
latest addition 1 87 325is blk - parts.

latest addition as of 2013-Gold 87-325is auto! it's a keeper!
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:58 AM   #7
E30S54
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Does anyone notice this is the same guy "wc123wc" and the incompetent mechanic shop is Alphaworx.

Its all the same posts he has posted in one new thread with a new user name.

Well glad you shared your experience.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:01 AM   #8
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I doubt he was having a bad day, because the events I mentioned above happened over 2 months, many visits to the shop (at least 10 visits in those 2 months period), and every visit took on average a couple of hours!

The reason I am not mentioning his name is that may be he is a good mechanic and that's why others have recommended him. He is also a very nice person and I don't want to affect his business--that's how he makes his living, you know. May be it's just that he had bad constant bad "luck" with diagnosing my car, I don't know.

Also, on many of the visits he didn't seem to be in a rush: he had no cars in the garage, he was on the cell phone, took his time to inspect the car (with the frequent cell phone breaks), and charged me nothing--so he wasn't in a hurry to make money, you know.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:12 AM   #9
E30S54
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Usually places that have no work are like that for a reason. I would be scared to go to a mechanic shop that was always slow.

Would you go to a restaurant that never any customers? I wouldn't maybe the customers all got sick. The shop you went to is incompetent and it doesn't matter how nice he is, no one deserves to get ripped off.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:12 AM   #10
T.Dot_E30
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Dealership experience means nothing. He could have been doing oil changes and tires the whole time or just maintenance items and worked on all newer cars with no real problems to figure out.

I wonder who this shop is.

To be fair vibration problems on older cars are hard to pinpoint. He just went about it in the wrong way. But the explanations he gave would tell me he doesn't know what he is doing or he is trying to BS you.

My recommendation is to stick to forum sponsors as they have experience fixing actual problems and not just 'dealership experience'.

There is a forum sponsor in the east end. Stance Factory. Check them out if you are looking for something closer to you.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:17 AM   #11
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He stated in other threads it's Alphaworx that is the ex dealer guy .
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:51 AM   #12
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You guys all mentioned good points. I wasn't upset at his explanations--just baffled! I mean, I am no mechanic but I know after the third Shell premium gas tank had run out of gas (and Octane booster) that the car shouldn't shut down any more if it was because of the fuel! I also know that it's not normal for all cars to shut down on hard braking! His last statement made it sounds like I should just live with the fact that my car shuts down occasionally and it's okay!

Anyway, I work in the west end now and so RMP Motors is close to me and I am sticking with them from now on. As long as they do quality work, fix my car's problems properly, and don't BS me then I am willing to travel to their shop even if I lived far away, because I'd rather lose an hour of drive than days off of work. And I'd rather pay someone who fixes my car than not pay someone who doesn't fix it but just wastes my time. And I'd rather get the car fixed properly the first time than keep going back to the same problem.
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:03 PM   #13
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With your recent join date, constant use of 3 specific letters.

It's hard to not notice the fact that you came here specifically to post your rave review, almost questioning your motives and your story. Said 3 letters have been known to create fake accounts. If I have mistaken, my apologies.....just know that your IP is tracked when you login/post, and they can match that up see what your real username is.
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:15 PM   #14
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^^ lol. I wonder a lot too at that
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:37 PM   #15
BMWfan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.Dot_E30 View Post
With your recent join date, constant use of 3 specific letters.

It's hard to not notice the fact that you came here specifically to post your rave review, almost questioning your motives and your story. Said 3 letters have been known to create fake accounts. If I have mistaken, my apologies.....just know that your IP is tracked when you login/post, and they can match that up see what your real username is.
I don't think the word 'rave' is an accurate description of my post, because my message was very clear (not insane or incoherent), and I did not slander anyone's name or business; I could've easily mentioned which shop it is but I refuse to do that.

And yes, I came here specifically to post my review but I don't see how that makes it a fake story. Everyone has to start from somewhere. But of course you have the right to question, and you don't have to believe me. You can simply skip to the next topic.

And it's fine if someone wants to track my IP--I did not commit a crime, you know. I am simply sharing my bad experience with a certain shop/mechanic. I definitely have the right to do that. I am sure many others can identify with having to deal with a bad mechanic, especially BMW drivers who love their cars and really want to fix them.

I decided to create another account so the shop won't be easily tracked from my original user name. I hate to be the reason a business suffers financially, after all their business is the source of their income. May be my case was a rare unlucky case with this mechanic; may be others had better luck, I don't know. I am not claiming that he is a bad mechanic because of my experience with him. All I am doing is sharing my frustration. I bought my first BMW few months ago and I thought it was going to be an exciting experience, but so far I have been unable to enjoy it like I had hoped to.

And your apologies are accepted.
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