Arica brought her 1994 Volvo 940 (odometer at 189961) to us for an overheating problem. I believe she was referred from another repair shop. The other repair shop had mention to her the overheating may have been caused by a blown head gasket but was never verified. When the car was brought to Summers Automotive Service inc. Airca said it had gotten extremely hot on multiple occasions. The Volvo was visibly leaking leaving a pool of coolant on ground where it was parked. We told Arica that our schedule was booked through the end of the week but that we could start on her car on Monday. She said Monday would be okay and she would bring it back. When she went to leave, the Volvo had overheated driving it to our shop to the point that it would not start. We told her she could leave it with us and we would try to work it into the schedule as soon as possible. We diagnosed the car and found the water pump had failed causing the coolant leak. We tested for a blown head gasket and the test returned negative. We told Arica that the test for a blown head gasket was negative and that the water pump needed to be replaced. We recommended replacing the thermostat at the same time. Repair was authorized and we were able to complete repairs before the weekend. Arica called Summers Automotive the following Tuesday (10/14/14 & odometer at 190080) and told us the car was overheating again. She brought the car back and we retested the cooling system finding no coolant leaks. We retested for a blown head gasket and now it tested positive. We explained to Arica that after being overheated so many times the head gasket was likely on the edge of failing and that after fixing the coolant leaks (water pump & thermostat repair) allowing the cooling system to run at normal pressure the head gasket was likely not able to take it and failed. We offered to replace head gasket at a discounted price to help her out but Arica decided to donate the Volvo instead.
1) June 2010: Gas gauge way off was my initial complaint. Inv. 33141 said "fuel gauge works correctly at this time - fuel sender is giving false signals". I paid 140.34 as a cost for engine performance which apparently included checking this gauge at the time.
2) Aug 2010: Returned truck for same fuel gauge problem on invoice 33431. I paid 187.12 for remove & replace side tank, and I think I was told the tank's entire fuel sending unit initially had to be replaced at a cost of over $300. I decided against doing that and was later called by Eric to say that he could partially repair a portion of the unit for less money than originally thought, so I said go ahead and fix it if that was the case.
3) Sept 2010: Returned again for fuel tank issue on inv. 33731. Was told that the baffles in the gas tank were actually stuck and that someone in the shop who had "skinny arms" (Eric?) had to reach in there and apparently unstick or re-align them, and that took care of the problem. (You can imagine how this made me feel after being told (and paying for) in August that the problem was the fuel sending unit, and also that it took 3 months to accurately diagnose and fix the problem; I still was out for the sending unit repair when I wasn't sure that was even needed after you discovered the baffle issue).
4) RR taillight board issues: Brian and I have discussed this multiple times, and I know Summers absorbed some costs here, but time and trouble for both parties still doesn't even things out as your customer did not get his problem correctly diagnosed until multiple visits were done. The board has been replaced at least three times over a long period. (There was never a problem with the LR board). Maybe there was an issue, in triplicate, with "bad boards" over time and over various suppliers, but in the recent end, after prodding by me that there had to be some sort of other issue, like a power or voltage spike or something that was frying boards, that the problem was just recently diagnosed once and for all as a "bad ground wire".
I did ask why the work instruction for analyzing such a repeated part failure up until now didn't include an electrical analysis (which you did do this last time on 8-19-11 on invoice 35716, but apparently never before then), and you discovered what you said was a full 1 volt drop due to a bad ground wire, which you replaced - and wanted to charge me for. We discussed the long term, repeated issue here and you then agreed to not charge me for that, but I did pay $46.78 for .5 hrs. of shop time on invoice 35716. So far as of this writing (8-28-11), the turn signal is working properly, but again, it took a very long time and repeated trips to your shop before getting a final, accurate diagnosis.
5) Invoice 3554 in July 2011 detailed a lube/oil/filter request and I also asked Summers to check for suspension squeaking (it was called "noise" on the invoice). Frankly I expected a full lubrication to take care of the issue. I was told that no suspension squeaking was discovered. Over time since this appt., the squeaking was still prevalent and not fixed at all. I could not return back to Summers for an appt. until Aug 19, 2011 (I had to wait about a week to get a re-appointment on a return problem issue) on invoice 35716 (again to also include a bad RR turn signal), but mainly for "heavy suspension squeakage".
I spoke with Brian and I said it was very prevalent, and that turning at slow speeds, going over speed bumps, and driving next to buildings were examples of when it could be heard. Brian called later to say that they eventually found the problem was "bad outer tie rod ends", and that he put a scope on them and could hear "grinding" inside. I asked if he was sure this was the issue (because of ongoing doubt due to diagnosis issues from past experience, I pointedly asked this), and he said "yes".
I asked how serious this was and we generally discussed steering failure could result if not taken care of. I said ok, but this was going to be another $300+ bill for me, so again, I wanted to be assured by him that he was right. Later, I believe that same day, I received a call from Eric this time to say that they had more time to look at the vehicle after people had gone home (??) and Eric's diagnosis to Brian was that it really was not the outer tie rod ends, but something else. He then lubed the lower ball joint(s) and that completely took care of the problem without tie rod end replacements or associated costs quoted. (I don't know if lubing lower ball joints is included in your lube/oil/filter specials, but if it is, that was not done in June 2011 on inv. 3554. If it isn't included, maybe in the future it should be?).
I apologize for the long amount of feedback, and I do believe in proper feedback, but my confidence that I am always paying for truck repairs that are accurately diagnosed is shaken at this point, as would be anyone's. I've been advised to find someone else for future truck repairs, and I am considering it.
I do know that auto repairs and diagnosing can be problematic at times, and that no one has all the answers, but your reputation and business are looked to by consumers for accurate answers. I know very little about auto mechanics, but I'm not short on common sense, logic, or shy about asking questions. However, we are beyond just seeing "coincidence" occur with me on this truck in terms of really believing the initial diagnosis by Summers is truly accurate in all cases (and these things I've mentioned so far are really small repair issues; I shudder to think what may have happened on larger repair bills which I had no idea to fully question before now).
I enjoy working with you all there, and it takes a lot for me to get to this point, but my confidence in Summers is again, shaken. Let's hope the truck gives us no reason for repairs in the near term, and that my near term memory will also fade by the time I need to address my repair needs in the future. With an '89 vehicle, we all know there will be future business needed somewhere.
Thank you for asking for feedback. It was done in good faith.