Lessons Learned?


More than a year has passed since I drove my pickup to a shop for clutch repair. The shop I chose boasted of its quality workmanship. And even more important, it was close enough to the house that I could walk, it came to that.

They finished the job in a respectable length of time, kept their charges within the bounds of their estimate, issued me a written one year guarantee that the work was done correctly.

After a few months the clutch began to chatter. Hoping against hope, I continued driving it until the chatter became so great it rattled the tailgate.

I took it back before the guarantee expired. But taking a car back to a shop is kind of like sending your breakfast back to the kitchen – good things don’t always transpire.

The mechanic muttered something about Chinese parts, but I didn’t have to fight them. However, he did call me later in the day, voicing concerns that part of the problem was because it ran poorly. Well, I’d been driving this rig for thirteen years. Maybe he’s right, I thought.

He changed the fuel filter. When that didn’t help he changed the spark plugs. When I picked it up he told me he had resurfaced the flywheel, but that the muffler was plugged.

What did I know? I took it to a muffler shop. “The muffler is okay,” the muffler man says.

The symptoms have changed. The clutch is chattering again, but only when the engine is cold. I’ve driven a few miles in my 77 years, plus I spent some time as an over-the-road trucker driving some 400,000 miles each year. I’ve experienced some strange thing, but never a clutch that chattered only when it was cold. Then the clutch failed. It went from chattering to not working at all.

It is a hydraulic clutch. The fluid is gone. It ran out on the ground. My chest-pounding clutch people had failed to change the slave cylinder. It was squirting fluid on the clutch disk, causing it to chatter until the heat boils the hydraulic fluid away.

By this time I’ve lost faith in my close-to-the-house shop. I didn’t know I needed to wet-nurse these mechanics to get them to do the job we’d agreed upon.

I took my vehicle to another shop and started anew, paying a mechanic to inspect their shoddy workmanship and finish up what the close-to-home people failed to do.

It runs good now. It should. My repair bill has blossomed from $1100 to $1600.

During my long life I’ve learned that I need to watch out for myself, that this problem is partly my fault because I trusted the mechanic to do me right, to be honest and do what I was paying him to do. I’m angry. I feel used. I want to write a scalding letter to the shop, and another letter to the BBB. I want to expose them on Facebook. But a small voice tells me I should file this experience under the heading of “LESSONS LEARNED”, and not look back.

Are there any opinions to the contrary?