When the "Service Engine Soon" light comes on.....

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When the "Service Engine Soon" light comes on..... Empty When the "Service Engine Soon" light comes on.....

Post by Wildcat445 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:39 pm

In a former life, when I was a working somebody, I was a Master Certified Auto Repair Technician. I had certification in Heavy Truck, Diesel, and Bus as well as Public Passenger and Emergency Vehicles. An incindent happened to a friend of mine recently, and I wanted to pass the information gleaned from this deal to you all, in the hope that it will help you avoid such a pitfall.

The vehicle in question is a 2004 Chevrolet Impala with the 3.4 litre V-6. It has 178,000+ miles, has been well serviced and the owner is very consciencious about maintenance. He is a careful and prudent driver. I personally performed the 100,000 mile service on this car, coming out of "retirement" to help the guy out. The owner is an acquaintance, not necessarily a friend. At 103,186 miles in October 2008, I replace the spark plugs and wires, serpentine belt, fuel filter, changed the engine oil and filter, transmission fluid and filter, air filter, cleaned the throttle body, purged the fuel injectors, performed "44K" service on the intake system. I checked the front and rear brakes, wheel bearings, and checked the condition of the shocks and struts. I did a front end alignment, and rotated and balanced the tires. A brake fluid flush and cooling system flush and fill with ethylene glycol coolant and anti-rust/water pump lube completed the service. The fuel filter has been changed every third oil change (15,000 miles) and the trans serviced each 15,000 miles. The car has never sat out a night in its life and has probably only been driven in the rain a half dozen times. It rarely gets driven in winter weather.

The owner of this car was coming home from Home Depot the other day when the "Service Engine Soon" light illuminated on the instrument panel and stayed on. IT has set a hard code, code 300 "Random Engine Misfire". I don't have the necessary shop diagnostic equipment to properly diagnose this condition, so I referred the owner to a local shop that enjoyed a good reputation, employing all ASE Master Technicians, and with the necessary equipment to repair his car. I am not acquainted with the owner of the shop, or its technicians, so they knew nothing of my background. The owner of the car asked me to accompany him to the shop and I agreed, providing that he would not reveal that I am an auto technician who likely knows as much about his car as they do.

The car was flagged to "my driveability guy" who took less than 10 minutes to come back with his diagnosis. The car needed a set of spark plugs and plug wires. He stated that the ones on the car were original and "had high KV's". The spark plugs were destroyed and there was a possiblility that the ignition module/coil pack had been damaged by the plug wires. The car owner stated that the wires and plugs had been replaced during the 100,000 mile service. The technician agreed that the car appeared to have been well serviced, but that the plug wires and plugs were original. Period. "You have been ripped off, my friend. Whoever does crap like this should be shot. It gives everybody else a bad name". Keep in mind that the car owner had sat on a milk crate, in my garage, while I did the service on his car. So he know full well that what the technician was trying to sell was bogus.

I took Russ to the side and advised him to agree to the service. I wanted to have some fun. Blowing a few bucks was no problem for Russ, so he authorized them to do the work with one condition. He wanted the old plugs and wires returned to him so that he could "shove them up some ..................'s butt." I was said ".................." I suppose.

I walked out to the shop and watched them take the plugs and wires off, to avoid a possibility of the old "switcheroo." The tech handed me the plugs and wires that I had installed. He went about his business, and pulled the car out of his stall and parked it. NO TEST DRIVE!! The bill was $404. ONE HOUR diagnostic time. 2 hours labor, the rest was for the plugs and wires. The tech pronounced it fixed. He reset the SES light. "I guarantee it, hoss." We paid the bill. We had been there less than an hour and a half, total.

I asked to drive home. I had a hunch. Sure enough, we didn't get a half block from the shop when the "Service Engine Soon" light came on and stayed on. I turned around in a driveway and beat feet back to the shop. We had been gone about three minutes. Old Mr. "I guarantee it" came out, we told him about the SES light. He said "No way." Then he said "way" and got out the old scanner. I noticed itermittent black smoke coming from the exhaust. I mentioned this to the tech and he said that the ignition module had been damaged by the defective wires and that it would have to be replaced. For ANOTHER $560 for the part, ANOTHER two hours labor. But, he was going to do us a favor and not charge diagnostic time. ANOTHER "I guarantee it." It has set another Code 300, the same as before. Exactly the same symptoms. Exactly the same results. I asked about the black smoke from the tailpipe. Could there be an overfuel condition here? Had he consulted the flow chart for Code 300? Fuel pressure issues were a possible cause of Code 300. He punched in another command to his scanner and said "s$$t" under his breath. He got out of the car and started looking under the hood. He went into the service writer's office and told him that the fuel pressure regulator has "just started leaking." I went out and looked with him. The vacuum line the regulator was swollen along with another small vacuum line at the throttle body. He replaced both those small lines and the engine ran worse, and more rich. He recommended, of course, that the fuel pressure regulator be changed, but assured us that the regulator in no way affected the SES light or the problem we were having. The diaphram in the fuel pressure regulator had ruptured, was injecting unmetered fuel into the intake system, causing a misfire condition, setting the SES light. The plugs and wires had not only not been defective to start with, but the made no difference with the problem.

I went into the owner of the shop and showed him my credentials. He asked why I had "set him up." I pointed out that his tech had strung his own rope, I merely allowed him to attach it around his neck. The bottom line is that I got the money back on the first repair, $404. I paid for the fuel pressure regulator and reasonable, actual time to install it. The total bill was $131 and change. Problem solved. Car runs just fine. No SES Illumination.

When you get the dreaded "Service Engine Soon" light, this means KA-CHING to a shop disposed to gouging. ALWAYS ask for the results, specific results, of any diagnostics you are charged for. If they try to dodge your questions, or treat you like an idiot, remove your car from the shop, pay any charges it takes to get your car back, and get a second opinion. THEN battle for your money back. Diagnostic time should be charged, but the results should be commensurate with the charges. A bad diagnosis is worthless, and should be paid as such. Ask questions, stay focused and keep personalities out of the deal. Do not yell. They will smell weakness and you are then done.

By the way, the plugs and wires in question were tested by me, another shop and two Chevy dealers. Absolutely nothing was wrong with them. They were re-installed back onto the engine by yours truly, and they are still there and working just fine. The "replacement" plugs and wires that the shop installed were returned to them.

Regards

WC


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Post by fixinmyphono on Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:49 pm

Touche! Smile
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Post by sprman on Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:33 pm

Hi very good! Makes you wonder how many get riped off every day like that and have no clue.Sprman.

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Post by N7ZAL on Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:57 pm

I've been very lucky finding "good" repair facilities based on referrals.
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Post by Guest on Sun Jan 06, 2013 8:50 pm

It's sad that a service place will allow such diagnosis to go on. I had a car that was shotgunned like that to the tune of over $800.00. I sold it, bought a '79 Ford Ranchero and a set of shop manuals, and began doing my own repairs and maintenance. I've bought two vehicles since then, with the manuals and have an OBD I reader for them. I was lucky enough to find an honest garage to do the jobs when I can't. I send them lots of business also.

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Post by Sal on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:24 pm

Nice! My friend has a shop and is honest with his customers, and his business shows it as he is very busy with repairs and referrals.

Sal

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Post by Ken g on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:35 pm

This is the big problem with alot of repair shops . many employees only know how to guess and start replacing all kinds of stuff then lie about their mistakes and keep charging for guesswork .

I have a 1994 nissan pickup SE V6 engine . I took it to nissan to have it looked at because one plug was not firing and have the plugs replaced at 50K miles . They said injector #3 was bad and all the work would be 700$ . This was 10 years ago .

I declined the repairs and was charged 125$ for their time . I am sure they simply plugged in a tester taing 10 minutes ?

I drove it home and did some internet research in injectors . I found the bad one ( not # 3 ) it was a different one . I bought a new injector for 125$ and plugs for ? 12$ ? spent about 2 hours and it was fixed . I have done 2 other injectors sence .

Next repair was my request for the timing belt replacement , all other belts and hoses that needed it . I got a call and was informed my water pump starting to leak just a tiny bit . ( it was under everything ) i told them to replace it .
They did all the work and the bill was 350$ . A great deal and i always go back to them . Addison auto repair .

The last strange thing this thing did was start leaking oil . It started after an oil change . It would drip a fair amount on the garage floor each night after i got home . First round i ignored it and after 3 months it stopped leaking .
Next oil change ... leaks . I ignored it . The next oil change i mentioned my leaking problem after the change . This is jiffylube doing these . They didnt know . I took it to a mechanic and they didnt find much either .

After that it was summer so i did my own oil changes . It never leaked another drop , after 3 changes . Winter set in so i went back to jiffylube . I noticed all the employees were different people . They have done all of the service sence and no leaks .

I always wondered what they did to get it to leak . Strange thing was it only leaked after i drove it . During this leaking problem , If i moved it out of the garage & onto the driveway and left it all day it didnt leak . If i went to the store & back it leaked . ?????

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Post by Resistance is Futile on Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:29 pm

I had a shop that I trusted, then I started getting things that needed to be replaced. Then the serpentine belt broke at 140,000, I was told I needed to have the heads remove and the valves inspected for damage as that nissan engine was an interference engine, That's where the valves push down into where the pistons are, and if the engine gets out of sync because of the broken belt it can damage the valves.
So I told the owner to go ahead and that cost me with replacement belts and labor $890. Two weeks latter I met a friend that I used to work with. And told Him my repair job. First thing He said was you got cheated. Ford(Mercury) required a design change and put in pistons that had part of the piston carved out so the valves had no clearance problems. The Nissan's stayed the same but not the Mercuries for the years around 96.

I had complained previously about too many repairs to Him and now I know better. I'm going to no longer do business with Him. And I had given so many recommendations previously. So those recommendations will be negative from now on. I thought He was good because you had to make appointments a week to two in advance. So with so much business I figured He must be reputable.
And to top it off
I only get 16 mpg, instead of 20-21 mpg. Crying or Very sad
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Post by Ken g on Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:20 pm

Most people dont understand repairs and figure a new car is expensive so they dont care about the cost .

One tv repair shop here charges some 200$ to replace 3 or 4 capacitors in a tv set .

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Post by ChrisH664 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:39 am

My first brand new car we purchased April 2012. Free oil changes first 25,000 miles. Cool!! On the receipts I notice they normally charge $75 for oil change and tire rotation. Eeesshhh!!

I hit a very large raccoon at 75 mph and damaged the radiator beyond repair. Insurance covered it. $35 for antifreeze/coolant was seen on the repair bill. What!!!??

So a business idea popped into my head just now. Mobile oil change. We come to you. Places of business may not like that..someone changing the oil in the employee parking lot but go to your home? Charge more for the convenience and people would be willing to pay the extra. $40? $50? Hmmmm....
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Post by Wildcat445 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:26 pm

Mobile mechanics were the rage for a time. About the only mobile mechanics left deal with heavy equipment that cannot be conveniently or economically transported to a repair facility.

The main drawbacks of mobile mechanics were liability for damages, workman's comp issues, environmental concerns, and, as you correctly stated, objections to performing "messy operations" on private property. Just too many expenses and hassles for profit potential realized. And, many of the practitioners of mobile mechanical work were less than stand-up individuals, and there were rampant consumer complaints. Do mobile mechanics still exist? Sure. But in lots smaller numbers. And today's cars are so complex that a truck large enough to house all the equipment needed to work on them would be as large as a stationary shop.

Regards

WC

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