Where Do I Stand with a Refund from The Mechanic?

So my car developed a squeal from the serpentine belt (drive belt) and so I changed the belt over with a friend who used to be an apprentice mechanic and it didn't fix it. So realising that I don't have the skills to take it further, I took it to the local Jax mechanic.
They said it was my tensioner and pulley and it'll run me $650 which I paid for. This morning the squealing was still there, just the same as before. So I called my friend (ex-apprentice) and he said that there was nothing wrong with the tensioner at most the pulley on the end might have needed a replacement for around $100.
I took it back to Jax and they are saying that they need to have another look at it. But it is probably the one-week-old belt and the tensioner was still needed to be replaced.

Where do I stand? Clearly, if the tensioner was the problem, there wouldn't be an issue now. I doubt I can say I want a full refund. But $650 is no small amount to have paid for something that wasn't the issue. What should I be telling the mechanic?

TL;DR
Mechanic replaces a part, didn't fix the issue, charged a lot. Should I ask for a refund? Or something else?

Comments

  •  

    Why would a mechanic put on a whole new tensioner rather than pressing in new bearings? Would be pretty rare for the arm or pulley to be damaged without an accident.

    oh yeah $650 VS $100.

    •  

      I asked them about swapping out the bearing and they said they'll just ware out right away.

    • +1 vote

      Bushings and springs can fail in tensioners. They probably assumed the squealing was due to lack of tension. At any rate they were obviously incorrect and did no diagnosis work, moral of the story, don't take your car to a tyre shop for mechanical work.

  •  

    I've been in your situation and it sucks! Luckily, I found a good mechanic who is trustworthy and I've never looked back. I recommend finding a reputable mechanic, preferably someone who runs his own workshop rather than a franchise.

  •  

    If you have a commodore or falcon it is possible(probable) that one of the pulleys is out of alignment and causing sideways tension on the belt which causes the noise. Its usually the power steering pump pulley. the front face of the pulley needs to be flush with the front of the shaft, if the shaft protrudes or the pulley hub overhangs then realign it. this probably happens to other cars but it seems more prevalent in out "home grown heros".

    •  

      This. Is what I was about to say. If you squirt a bit of water on it and it makes the sound worse you likely have a pulley misalignment. Had this issue on and off for a while until I changed the whole part completely (in my case it was the alternator) as the adjusting bolt had already been bent by a previous owner or the last mechanic who did a lazy job on the belt change.

      •  

        Yeah, the water test didn't work. It squeals badly in the morning when it turns on and the headlights flicker. And it gets progressively better as I drive to work. By 15mins of driving there's no squeal.

  • +4 votes

    So they replaces the 2 other pulleys and…. still squealing noise this morning when I turned the car over. They have begged to have the car for another day to find the problem. I have told them if it is still there after that I want a full refund or I am taking this to VCAT.

    • +2 votes

      Mate read what I told you above, it's probably the alternator one way clutch, it's extremely easy to test. They've had the belt off a million times, would have taken 10 seconds to check it. If they lock the alternator with something, clutch should the pulley should be able to spin one way and not the other, it's probably locked up.

    •  

      Not good news.

      I like your firm stance. Stay firm and don't back down. Squeal remedied or money back. If they push back ask them to restore the car back to how it originally was. When they repeat that they threw out the original parts tell them that's their problem. Not yours.

    •  

      The squeals are usually from the loose belt, not the bearings/pulleys themselves. Headlights flickering also show it's a loose belt and not the pulleys. They obviously measured the tension of the belt and it's to spec, didn't they? Do some fancy auto-tensioners not allow for the tension to be adjusted at all lol

  • -1 vote

    I was getting screwed over multiple times by Payless on cosgrove road in sydney (greenacre) till i went to a trustworthy mechanice and realised the other place was the reason for multiple accidents at my fault plus putting my life and anyone in my car's life on the line, all to save a few bucks and lying to me at the time with parts being replaced and brands / quality of parts etc. My insurance company said sadly they cant go after them for the accidents and i have to go through fair trading but its hard to prove after the fact except that all 3 independant sources - a toyota dealer, a new mechanic i went to as well as the NRMA repair centre all said the same thing that the Payless company i was going to had been screwing me up and short changing me as well as lying on changing parts they never changed or changed for far inferior parts and used parts and claiming different brands / prices on me.

    • +2 votes

      I’ve never had a problem with my shoes.

      •  

        Yeah i stopped after i found out everything that was going on, but you dont sometimes realise it till you get it professionally checked out by other companies. I was just warning people about going to that place.

  •  

    Picked up the car and the battery light and ABS lights on the dash are on. They now say my alternator is dead and that is something different to the squealing/tensioner arm.
    They are really fighting the refund as they said that they've fixed the squealing and the alternator is another thing.

  •  

    Why on earth would you take your vehicle to a tyre place for mechanical work?

  • +1 vote

    This is why its a good idea to replace all serviceable parts while doing the job. u can buy a mechanic's stethoscope off ebay very cheap to help pinpoint sources of noise. squealing can come off the bearings on the alternator, power steering pump, water pump.. u might have already discovered that if they now say your alternator is on the way out, especially if your headlights flicker.. my car makes a squealing noise on cold mornings. with my stethoscope I discover it was the power steering pump. noise disappears when its warmed up. I should probably change the powersteering fluid and maybe service ps pump.

  • -1 vote

    I can't believe this.

    The maintenance schedule on all vehicles calls for regular replacement of:

    Accessory drive belts
    Idler bearing/pulley assemblies
    Belt tensioners (and their associated bearing/pulley assemblies)

    And they do them together, some dealers as a single repair item. For the next 80,000 it won't fail again.

    If your manufacturer uses good pulleys, with decent dust covers, you can do the pulleys and the tensioner at double that.

    So you do belts when they slip, before the battery gets uneven charging, say every 40,000km, and the tensioner and pulleys at every second change (80,000km).

    All wear out, and are designed to wear at a known rate*
    Not all fail at the same rate, but when their design life is reached, failure is imminent

    • this varies in unusual service- such as hot, dusty and wet conditions

    Both the engineers and bean counters at manufacturers do this to minimise cost

    Mechanics OTOH, see a serviceable bearing or tensioner and say 'it's fine', or 'nothing wrong with it'

    Putting them back on is good business because the customer can't be arsed to even look at the diagram or their own car. But they happily pay if the noise goes away. So they think replacing 'just a belt' or 'just a pulley' is a suitable approach (fixed!, I'm your fixer! And they get Tick tick, #jobdone)

    Then the problem comes back in 3 months and the customer comes back in. 'Oh, we'll have to do the (other pieces) this time and that's going to cost $Zillions (more than it should) and the customer says 'yes' (woot!)

    No wonder the parts are fine, or nothing wrong with them

    There are several things wrong here from the customer's perspective:

    1. Regular servicing would have prevented the 'squeal' or the noise, or worse, total failure of the cooling system and a break down / potentially massive repair
    2. Proper servicing replaces these items before the end of their design life, not on an as diagnosed basis
    3. The customer pays through the teeth in all kinds of ways
    4. Mechanics get a bad name because of the bad ones

    In most cases, euro/jap/local cars, the parts are $200-$300 at most, the labour to replace all is equal to that. And it lasts for years.

    So your choice, when you know it is time, is to figure out if you do the belt this time, or all of it. The answer is as simple as remembering what was done last time!

    • -1 vote

      The only thing not included in that is the water pump. It has a water-cooled bearing which is not so prone to dust contamination and wear. It can be replaced at 160,000, so many get forgotten about and fail catastrophically. So 160,000km is a magic time to tell your mechanic to change everything accessible, such as diff oil, trans/gearbox and clutch and brake fluid, and replace all the pipes and plastics in the cooling system, replace shock absorbers, the major bushings that fail, brake rotors if they haven't yet been… all the major stuff.

      •  

        Yeah did most of that last service at the big 200000km. When the car was 67000 the water pump washer went and cost me a grand to swap a 5c washer. The mechanic even made sure to save the washer for me as a present. lol

    •  

      There is no service distance or time for serpentine belt pulleys and tensioners. You are thinking about the timing belt, which is a completely different thing.

      You will not even get a serpentine belt tensioner for most cars for $300.

      • -1 vote

        Everything has a service interval, if not specified in the documentation you have seen, it is referred to only as an item covered by a service activity in the service schedule.

        If it wasn't, they'd fail under warranty as nobody would be instructed to change them. Dealer mechanics follow the schedule, line by line, item by item, or at least, people hope they do

        Serpentine belts, and the wear items that support them, are a major wear item in all modern cars. Timing belts are too, because they are rubber and transfer a lot of power between the accessories that we rely on

        •  

          You specifically stated the maintenance schedule of all vehicles calls for their regular replacement. This is absolutely false. Serpentine belts generally last well over 100k km, tensioners and bearings generally much more than that.

          Timing belts are not made of rubber.

          • -1 vote

            @brendanm: The maintenance schedule (the customer has) references the various scheduled services, and these services (dealers are happy to show you) will reference all the standard wear items inc. serpentine belts and pulleys. If they can't demonstrate it, how can they justify charging so much to do it? They can, and they do change them, this is the easy way to keep customers happy despite the bill as they remain on the road without flat batteries, failures, and so on.

            Serp belts are made from rubber. EPDM is rubber. Sometimes referred to as Butyl rubber or other things, dep on the manufacterer. Each prefer different compounds, but they're all rubber based in my exp.

            100k km is subjective and depends on use. On my car, 80k is a serious service and I do the belt as they are cheap and easy and I get to check/inspect if anything that isn't right when I do it. At 160k km I do all the pulleys that drive it. You can do 100/200k if you prefer, I've no doubt I could too, but the reality is that statistically speaking, failures occur within a few weeks, or after the replacement is referenced service schedule, so I stick to that and so far, have avoided failures

            For example, if a committed driver took your car, no matter what it is, around a race track for a few hours, a whole bunch of service items would need doing pretty immediately.

            •  

              @resisting the urge: Serpentine belt tensioners and pulleys are not on the maintenance schedule.

              Nowadays cars that have timing belts have them due at 150k plus, which is when the serpentine belt itself is normally recommended to be replaced.

              I know what serpentine belts are made of, you said timing belts.

              Perhaps resist the urge to give advice on things you don't know about

              •  

                @brendanm: Neoprene is just a synthetic rubber as it lives inside the engine casing, some even call it PC-rubber. Why is this important anyhow?

                Every car is different, it depends on what the design goals are. Modern service schedules may be longer, it just depends how much servicing suits the business model of the manufacturer at the time.

                Most of us have older cars with shorter intervals. And some current service schedules will still be shorter than the norm. It depends on the make, model and market. Generalisations are just that, nothing more.

                I'll stick to replacing things when my service schedule implies (directly or otherwise). You should do yours whatever way suits you.

                •  

                  @resisting the urge: I'm a mechanic mate, I'm well aware of what is required in service schedules, and how long parts last.

                  •  

                    @brendanm: Sure. Well there is one local mechanic out of perhaps 100 shops I actually trust. How many around you would you trust to work on your car?

                    I work on and help fix a lot of cars, and -no kidding- in the few years, at least a dozen instances have happened where fasteners have loosened, things fallen off, poor or incorrect parts and fluids have been used. All in work done by licensed mechanics paid by people living locally to me that come and ask me about a problem instead of going straight to their mechanic.

                    Just last week my neighbour asked me why her brakes 'felt strange' and it turned out to be the brake reservoir (fitted the week prior) had split (exploded?). So she had only the brake fluid left in the cylinder between her and disaster. She told me that when she collected the car, she saw them fill it to the brim with brake fluid! That was a non-local specialty shop that should definitely know better. And to boot, they blamed a faulty OE reservoir.

                    Anyhow, recently, I've noticed a lot of people turning up with noisy drivebelts on the older cars. Hence my post about this being so remarkable, because when I find good service info, problem parts and wear items are usually quite clearly, and specifically referenced (except when due to a design fault not recognised officially- then it's more like ignore/hide/deflect/deny or just hoping the problems in the field will go away).

    •  

      OEM Major service parts for my sisters Holden Astra was $2000 from a dealership. pulleys, water pump, belts, tensioner, oil filter, Rad hoses. So I ordered from a Opel dealer in the UK for $500 shipped for the same OEM parts (since I wanted to go OEM) :P That was the last time I wanted to do a major service on a euro car.. :(

      •  

        That's the solution. Good on you for stepping up. There are tens of thousands of parts suppliers around the world, if not more.

        How much does it cost to do a Toyota?

        They're parts prices ratchet up just like all the others. I usually buy Jap and Euro parts at for the same price. When a part costs more, it's usually cause they are a more expensive/better construction/design, or impossible to find, and most Asian models go short on parts production far earlier than the euro ones.

  •  

    This question has probably been answered and i missed it.

    Did you ask the mechanic to replace the tensioner and pulley

    or did you ask them to fix the squeal? To me, there is an important distinction between the two

    • +1 vote

      Asked them to fix the squeal. They said that the tensioner was causing it and replacing it would fix the problem.

  • +1 vote

    resisting the urge on 12/07/2019 - 10:34

    I can't believe this.

    The maintenance schedule on all vehicles calls for regular replacement of:

    Accessory drive belts
    Idler bearing/pulley assemblies
    Belt tensioners (and their associated bearing/pulley assemblies.

    Sorry but I find the above and the rest of the story impossible to believe.

    We have a 4WD purchased new in 2007 and is not a shopping trolley or school run bus. It is used as it was intended. It has over 328,000k on it.

    It's on the third set of belts. The only items replaced have been the glow plugs bar the usual items as brake pads and discs, globes and battery. Original radiator, alternator, water pump, thermostat and all pulleys.

    And no it isn't a Toyota.

    •  

      Depends whether you replace to avoid failure, or noise, or just want to wait. You waited.

      But, on a 4WD it isn't so bad- most do not see the dusty work they are designed for, so a lot of wear items take longer to go wrong. Also, your tensioner may still seem to work but (depending on the design) it won't hold the tension like a new one, and/or it will begin to intermittently 'grab' in certain conditions/positions, causing temporary overloading/unloading of the belt which can cause failure or poor charging or loss of power steering assistance. Sometimes you have to heat them up and put them under sideways tension as well to see it happen.

      Quite frankly, after 10 years, anything cheap that is supporting a constant wear item, or that performs a critical task, is worth replacing.

      The bearings supporting the belts are a different story, they become noisier with wear, but this doesn't mean the noise is unacceptable. Most people with a 10 year old car don't expect the engine to operate quietly. Instead, they only term a bearing 'noisy' once has become contaminated, wakes the wife and the neighbours (up to 3 blocks away) every morning.

      People with a newer car sometimes remember how it sounded new and get alarmed by worn pulleys growling quietly. At this point, if you remove them, undo the clip rings, clean and grease them, you can make them last 10x longer sure, but at the end of the day they are cheap to replace so why bother or take the risk that one will be contaminated and require replacement when you do make the time to do the job. Most are sealed these days anyway. Soaking them in lubricant just softens the grease that is left inside, but once back in service this is more viscous and leaks faster and they return to a poor state quite promptly, but you can easily get a few more years out of them once they are like this and you are prepared to R&R them a few times

  • +1 vote

    Thank you all for your input. In the end, the owner has gotten involved. He seems like a good bloke. Gave me a lift home and back to work this morning. They believe they have found the problem. It was the pulley on the alternator was wrong and shot to shit. They said that the alternator that was replaced 2 years ago (AEX brand) had a genuine Toyota pulley on it and they are not compatible and has caused the pulley to rattle itself to death. They are fixing it. They said that the tensioner arm and pulleys were worn and still needed to be replaced. So, in the end, they said they'll leave the new parts in, fix the alternator and call it all even on the amount paid in the beginning. So, in the end, I paid $770 and they swapped all the pulleys incl. alternator pulley and the tensioner arm. I don't have it in me to fight it any further. I have not had a working car for 4 days now. As long as it drives and doesn't squeal, I just have to take this as a learning experience.

    On a side note. Anyone got a good 4x4 mechanic in the north side of Melbourne? Preferably someone cheap and good.

    • +1 vote

      Lol the alternator clutch all along hey, who would have guessed :P. He is also full of shit, the new alternator would have come with the pulley, but even if it didn't they are completely compatible. He is simply making excuses for why his "mechanic" didn't do a 10 second check of the alternator clutch pulley.

      •  

        That's what I figured. But can't argue it given I am not a mechanic. I am going to take this as an I got screwed but learnt my lesson situation.

      •  

        The value of a good mechanic in your life can not be underestimated. I have probably lost thousands in questionable servicing over the years. I just need to find a good mechanic that just wants long term loyal customers and in exchange doesn't pull anything dodgy. I am one of those guys that if I find a good tradie, they'll get a customer for life that always pays on time and in full.

        • +1 vote

          Don't go to crappy chain tyre stores like Jax. Places that pay poor wages get poor mechanics that can't get work elsewhere. Good independent referred by friends or family or internet is usually a decent bet.

          •  

            @brendanm: I usually don't. I figured this was a simple and easy fix and to just go around the corner for a quick fix. Usually, I go to a highly recommended 4x4 specialist that is good but farking expensive. But I figured this time I could avoid the super high per hour labour costs on a simple job.

  • +2 votes

    Yep a good mechanic is hard to find.

    Have been going to an independent workshop for 15 years. Five mechanics there. Six hoists plus a wheel alignment machine. It's that clean you could eat your lunch off the floor.

  • +1 vote

    well if it makes you feel any better, I had a squeaky belt on my regularly serviced subaru. I could not identify the problem, as it could have been a number of things and my dealership takes a week before they can fit you in. After a few days the belt came off whilst driving as the squeak was from a failing pulley bearing. I lost the steering pump and alternator whilst driving, so not much steering for a bit.
    Popped the bonnet and saw the broken pulley. Identified the part no. via smartphone and found one located around 30km away (genuine). Had to take an uber there and back, so including the part cost over $200 to do it myself. A local mechanic down the road was too busy to do it himself but showed me how (30 second job, leveraging with a spanner) and let me borrow the spanner. I fixed it myself, but it took most of the afternoon. I also have a reasonable amount of experience fixing cars.
    The bearings are wearing parts so you need to replace them eventually, so no huge loss. I checked my service schedule and the pulley bearings are not set for replacement in my car anytime under 200k, just "inspect".

    So don't feel too bad as even if you could do it yourself, it would still have cost a bit and taken all afternoon of running around.

    •  

      That does make me feel a little better. lol

    •  

      Many times a poorly tightened bolt will come loose. Any time you hear belt noise, always check for loose items first. 7/10 times the belt is knackered at this point, but if the loose pulley was just loose and nothing had come flying off yet, you can just tighten it up. With any luck the belt will get you home or even get you around until you can get a new one. I've seldom seen a mechanic bother to torque them down, which is really the only way to be dad sure its tight enough.

      If it was a race car, or a Rolls Royce, or a Ferrari, they'd torque it. But we're just peasants who will come back and pay again for any mistake. Little need to worry about us. This is why I do take the time to do it; if I don't torque it, it's my fault. So far, I doubt my failure rate is much better than a average mechanic though

  • +2 votes

    Picked the car up. Went to start it and there was a horrible noise. The mechanic was like "oh yeah that started happening today. Sound like your starter or ring gear is going". WTF! How is this happening?

    •  

      Wow dude… now you have to decide either to ride it all out with those Jax guys, or move onto a different mechanic.

      Wish someone can give some good 'legal' options what he should do from here.

    •  

      Don't give them another dollar.

    •  

      What car is it ? its it high mileage 200k and not japanese then I might consider it normal for multiple things to go wrong at the same time.

      To save money, download a workshop manual or buy a haynes workshop guide.. DIY :P

      • +1 vote

        Yeah no more money is going out to them. Got the car home. Now need to find a good mechanic to check and replace whatevers happened.

        It is a diesel 05 hilux with 200,000km on the clock. Which sounds like a lot but 200 thou ober 15 years on a diesel is not much. I service it every 10000kms.

        • +1 vote

          It is a diesel 05 hilux with 200,000km on the clock

          For a hilux that's nothing. Those things are basically bullet-proof. I'm somewhat amazed your mechanics even managed to fudge up things this badly. It's not like it's an exotic.

  •  

    How old is the car? What type of car is it? Have you had the car serviced regularly?

    •  

      It is a diesel 05 hilux with 200,000km on the clock. Which sounds like a lot but 200 thou ober 15 years on a diesel is not much. I service it every 10000kms.

  •  

    I only read the title but started laughing

    Basically ull be the first person in history to get a refund

  • Top