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How to tell when your car dealer is lying

Chrysler is over-represented on this list because this is a Chrysler-oriented Web site.

We are not responsible for the accuracy of claims on this page. In some cases the dealer may have been right. See customer lies.

The Hall of Fame!

  1. "We don't make any money off the extended warranty but offer it as a public service."
  2. You can't expect us to repair the transmission, steering, brake, and other problems under warranty, since you didn't let us do the 12,000 mile service. (Toyota dealer)
  3. Nobody can break into a Pontiac convertible because the top cannot be cut with a knife.
  4. “I'll call you when it's ready.”
  5. “Those aren't very good cars anyway. The engine leans over to one side and throws off the whole balance of the car.” — sales manager at Harris Ford, Lynnwood, WA, after selling a beautiful 1973 Scamp (with a 225 Slant Six) to another buyer despite having taken a deposit to hold the car less than 24 hours earlier. (Mike Sealey)

"There's no problem" - variations on refusal to repair

  1. Problem not found!!!!!
  2. "I can't hear anything wrong."
  3. "That noise is normal; there's nothing you can do." (sometimes true!)
  4. "It's normal for cars to perspire anti-freeze" (After 3 lame attempts to repair a leaky bi-pass hose on my wife's Altima - Midway Nissan, Phoeniz, AZ)
  5. "Four hundred miles per quart is within the normal range of oil consumption." (Many dealers but Saturn is notable for this one)
  6. "We tried it under the exact conditions you said, and it didn't do it."
  7. "Some of those engines idle rough, some don't. It's normal."
  8. "The cruise control can't be used below 55 mph. That's why it surges." (Toyota)
  9. "Well, I don't feel any brake pulsation," even though the runout was way out of specifications. (Toyota)
  10. "The problem is the way you're shifting." - Dodge of Paramus. Note: another transmission shop suggested that they had not actually replaced anything, but had merely reattached a slipped cable. The "clutch" problem turned out to be a gunked-up engine - but they were willing to fix the clutch they hadn't fixed right, for just another few hundred dollars.
  11. "No, that's oil seepage, not oil leakage. It is perfectly normal to expect seepage. Look, you can see that it is only road grime accumulation." (several dealers!) [Master Tech Jon: “Usually this is true, in order to keep lubricated and keep from drying out seals will seep oil, if it's not dripping it may not be anything to worry about. There is no way to 100% seal a moving part with oil pressure behind it.”]
  12. "Ma'am, there is nothing wrong with your gas tank. These new minivans just carry a 7 gallon reserve in the tank." (A 5-star Chrysler service center, after supposedly replacing the tank twice under warranty because when the gauge showed "empty," the tank could only be filled with 12 gallons of fuel, maximum. [This is clearly covered by a service bulletin] - reported by Karen)
  13. "Those lumps on in your headlight pocket are on all Camaros" (O'Reilly Chevrolet, Tucson, AZ, body shop manager). Agreed to "check it out" after I let him know that a total of 10 Camaros exist in my near family - none have lumps - Paul.
  14. "Could not duplicate transmission noise" (I was told this THREE times by Ed Voyles CPin Atlanta. Finally I drove the service manager across the lot with the windows down. He heard it. A week later they called saying car was ready. "No problems found" was written on work order. A nasty argument with the service manager ended when I promised to return to picket the dealer on Saturday. The entire transmission was replaced under warranty.) - Lee Hines and Tammy Gilmore
  15. "All alignment specs are perfect..." Literally from day one, this $33,000 van would climb up the crown into the oncoming traffic from the far right hand lane. The service manager test drove it, with me in it, on the wrong side of the road to prove it would do the opposite from there. He barely caught it from darting of into the trees and still tried to convince me that it was correct! - Mikey in Oregon.
  16. "We checked the alignment and the camber is off but that's compensated by the caster being off the other way." (Chrysler-Plymouth dealer...I guess the fact they were servicing a DODGE fooled them) - Gene Poon
  17. "All carbon breaks squeal after a while." After 4 trips to dealership which continually told me it was only brake dust I took it to an independent mechanic. It took him 10 minutes to figure out that one of my brake calipers was seized, it had totally ground down all of the brake pad. I proceeded to tell the owner of the dealership, when he told me "well they probably never check that side of the car." (Advantage Toyota Dodge, Portsmouth, VA) - Tammy Fox
  18. This problem happened a lot on the 94s, nothing to worry about - SBed83215
  19. "The part wasn't in the box so we didn't have to use it." (Tenafly C-P-J-E)
  20. After visiting Royal Jeep C/P in Orlando, Florida and telling them that my Neon had loud exhaust and excessive shaking after going through puddles, they told me they couldn't find anything. Then, I found the TSB and took it back to them telling them about the TSB, they said they couldn't find the TSB. Then, I printed it out from the Internet, handed it to the service guy and told him this is my year, my engine, and my exact problem. They returned my car to me saying they didn't fix it because they couldn't duplicate the symptoms. That problem never got fixed on my Neon. - Brian Schulte
  21. Bought a used Mustang GT from a Jeep/BMW dealer. Next morning there was a tremendously loud squeak as I drove it to work. It was so loud it hurt my ears. Other drivers were looking at me as I drove by. Picked it up after the dealer replaced the tensioner on the accessory belt for free. Next morning, same problem. Got dropped off at the dealership to pick up the car, The service manager said "they were all over that car and didn't find a thing wrong. It was totally quiet this morning.  We have no idea what you are hearing." Drove the car home. Next morning, same thing. ... !  I noticed the speedometer had a slight tick in the needle movement when the squeak occurred. I discovered the speedometer cable was making the racket. I disconnected the tranny side of the cable and squirted it full of lithium grease. It was totally quiet from then on. Took me 15 minutes to diagnose and fix the problem once I put my mind to it. I am by no means a mechanic. - "Dr. Righteous" (real name withheld on request)
  22. Late model GM V8 pickup:
    Service advisor: "Oh, that is normal, they all do that"  
    Symptom: Piston-slap at start-up
    My response: "They may all do that, but that is not normal!" -- Edward B. Gerhardt
    (Master Tech Jon wrote: “To increase horsepower and reduce emissions, manufacturers have been using short skirt pistons. It is normal for them to slap and make noise until they warm up to operating temp and expand to fit the cylinder, it won't decrease the longevity of the vehicle, its just something the consumer has to get used too that was different from their last vehicle. Manufacturers are now using moly coatings and teflon buttons on the pistons to reduce the noise due to customer complaints, the piston still acts the same, you just can't here it now.”)
  23. "Those black spots? That's brake dust. It'll come right off with a toothbrush." - Bryan Scholtes (The spots were due to clearcoat flaking off the aluminum wheels, letting black corrosion eat into the metal.)
  24. "You're a woman, you don't know anything about cars." (I've had this one from especially Ford, but also Dodge and Toyota)
  25. Our cars NEVER have problems. We don't have lemons! (Toyota dealer, BC)
  26. It's not our fault the car is getting worse gas mileage than recommended, it's your driving. (Toyota dealer, BC, regarding a car with clear problems)

You have to pay for it yourself

The other side of the story:

Many of the dealer lies on this site are the customer not understanding the technology and the car works, the rest are things told to customers by improperly trained/inexperienced techs.

Unfortunately most techs are still paid flat rate, if a car is under warranty and we can’t verify the problem, or if it turns out to be normal, the manufacturer won't pay us, so the dealer won't pay us, and certainly the customer won't pay us $200 to try and reproduce a dashboard rattle noise on there new car, so where does that leave us?

We either spend a couple hours trying to find a problem that may be normal and we take home a pay check that won't pay the bills, or we drive it a mile or two and if we can’t duplicate it we tell the customer, sorry it's not acting up right now.

If you go to the doctor and say I felt sick yesterday but I feel great today, he won't be able to tell you for sure what was wrong and neither can we.

Thanks for your time, I just like to stand up for all the guys like myself that have a college degree in automotive technology and hundreds of hours of
training but get treated like crap by customers who don't understand why their new car doesn't drive exactly the same as their old car.
— Jon (Certified Master Technician)

  1. "That's not covered by the warranty."
  2. I took my brand new 2006 Tacoma in because a check engine light came on. He said I hope it’s not rodents because they get many rodent damages this time of year, then he proceeds to ask where I lived (on a farm etc). One hour later he calls to say that I have a bad knock sensor, which was due to rodent damage, and due to rodents it’s not covered and it will cost me $600. I asked him how did he know, and he said because my engine had mouse pee and turds in it. I checked it, there was no turds, and how could he see mouse pee? (thanks, chrisj760)
  3. "I was told by the guy at the dealership when I bought it that I could go over 5k miles without an oil change. I went 5438k miles without an oil change and the service rep at Ford told me that because I broke 5k miles the warranty dept might not cover the rod that is going bad (makes a noise like a card in bike spokes). Funny thing is when he first called me at 8:30 am he said that when they drove it into the shop he couldn't hear anything. I told him to try it with the windows down and I got a call 2 hours later saying it was a bad rod." (Ford dealer; thanks, Vince Toney)
  4. "That aftermarket stereo voids your warranty." (Toyota dealer) (Master Tech Jon wrote: “Absolutely, 90% of the Toyota electrical problems I see are caused by aftermarket electronics. It does void your warranty for that problem if the aftermarket part was the cause, obviously it doesn't affect your emissions or powertrain warranty.”)
  5. "What do you want us to do about it?"
  6. "Water got under the hood when you went through the car wash and shorted out the wiring, your warranty excludes flood therefore the repairs are not covered" (Ford).
  7. "The paint came off and you want us to repaint it under warranty?" (Accompanied by a look of someone observing a flying saucer)
  8. "The seat belt recall is over, you'll have to pay $280 to get it fixed."
  9. "We can't do the warranty rust repair on your Caravan because almost all our warranty bodywork is due to rust claims, and handling your $2,200 repair would ruin our rating with Chrysler. We can refuse to work on any vehicle, you should take yours to the dealer you bought it from." (Service Manager, Miller-Krueger Dodge, Libertyville, IL, 3-29-01) - H. Fiedler
  10. If you install a Toyota alarm system on your Corolla, it will completely void the warranty. If we install an aftermarket system, it won't. (1999)
  11. A VW dealer in Dallas told my daughter the catalytic converter in her 1999 Volkswagen Jetta had rocks in it and would not be replaced under warranty. The dealer in College Station admitted it was faulty and replaced it under warranty. - Danny Coulson
  12. One Saturday morning, about 3 months after paying $20,000+ for my new Dakota pickup, I tried to get some warranty work done on it.  I was informed by a service advisor that "Saturdays are for paying customers only." (Lou Grubb Dodge, Phoenix, AZ) - "azcntryboy"
  13. 1999 Stratus with extended warranty needed head gasket at four years and 28,000 miles. We were first quoted $1,800, then $200 deductible, then $100 deductible. I mentioned that Chryco had a known problem and if they would mind if I invited a TV consumer reporter to stop by and "investigate" Chrysler's not paying the deductible. I stipulated that I liked the dealership very much. It was Dodge and Chrysler that I was angry at. Service manager gulped, turned pale, walked into General Manager's office. I watched through the glass. GM picked up phone, dialed, said a few words, nodded, said something to SM who nodded. SM came out of GM's office smiling and sweating. We ended up paying not one penny. I guess it pays to have friends in high places even if you only met them once, years before. - "gms186"
  14. The dipstick broke and the dealer said the top part melted, causing the stick to break off. I'd have to pay $140 to go into the oil pan to retrieve it. This was a two year old Nissan Sentra, still covered by warranty. (Nissan of Bakersfield, CA; sent by YankeesFan47, who reported that Nissan eventually covered it.)
  15. Back in 1999, I took my 1999 Dakota R/T with only 1,200 km to the service dept for mushy brakes. The service manager at Varsity Chrysler in Calgary, AB told me that the entire brake system had to be replaced (front and back). He told me this wasn't covered under warranty because, and I quote, "you use your brakes too often, and they're not meant for that." After a whole lot of hassle, and many phone calls to Chrysler Canada, who said it was between me and the dealer, I finally got the Western Canada service rep to approve the work. (Julian Hampson - current Pontiac owner)
  16. Took my Malibu for warranty work to Midway Chevrolet in 1998 in Phoenix, AZ with a printout of service bulletins needed. Car sat in the parking lot for two weeks. I came to pick up the car and the service rep said "That'll be $65 for a diagnostic fee." I said, "No, because when I dropped off the car, I wrote in pen on the service ticket ‘Free work only’ next to my signature." I took the car to Van Chevrolet and they did an amazing job, a long laundry list of items, in two days. (RC)

How dumb do we look? (Service version)

  1. “No need to replace the filter and drop the transmission pan for an automatic transmission flush. For $150 it just replaces the old fluid with the new. Whatever dirt was in the transmission pan just gets sucked up into the new filter.”
  2. "Yes, your car is in the shop now, but we had to order the parts. It will be one or two days." (The car is still on the back lot and a tech hasn't even received a ticket on it yet). - contributed by a dealer service tech
  3. On diagnosing an engine for burning oil: “A compression test is not going to tell anything. You need to authorize a payment of $780 to open the engine to assess the damage. We will not put it back together if you don’t pay further for repairs.”
  4. "Bring it over and we'll get it right in."
  5. Dropped my Dodge Spirit off at Rosenthal Chrysler-Jeep (Arlington, VA.) for a state-mandated emissions check in 2008.  I got a call saying that they couldn't complete the emissions check because the car overheated and needed a new radiator.  The service advisor said that the "emergency" engine cooling fan went on while the car was idling, indicating the need for a new radiator and possibly water pump!  I walked around back to pick up the car.  The motor sounded strange, so I popped the hood and saw that the air filter, filter box cover, and intake hose were laying loose in the engine compartment.  The radiator cap was also loose.  I put everything back together and got out of there fast.  I took the car to a local shop where it passed emissions with flying colors (without overheating!). — Cass Rymar
  6. "Our best mechanic will be working on your car." (Except for the kid who does the brakes.)
  7. "It's not leaking (red) transmission fluid, it was only a valve cover gasket"
  8. "You have to use the Mopar antifreeze or your radiator will corrode out. It's really a bargain."
  9. "Yes, we aligned the front end after replacing the steering rack," (the toe out was so great I could see it by eye). (Toyota)
  10. "The problems you're having with your car are because you don't drive it hard enough." (Toyota)
  11. (Hyundai Service Advisor) I know I told you the car was going to be ready by 11:00am today, but the mechanic broke his finger and went home.
    (Me) When did he break his finger?
    (Hyundai) 40 minutes ago.
    (Me) That would make the time he broke his finger - 5:20pm?
    (Hyundai) Yes.
    (Me) So why isn't my car ready now at 6:00pm if he had all day to fix it?
    (Hyundai) What? Oh, I never said the car would be ready by 11:00am. I said it would be ready by 5:00pm because I know you have a trip to take and the car would be ready at 5:00pm.
    (Me) Right, but the mechanic working on my car broke his finger at 5:20pm. Why wasn't the car ready by 5:00pm? (thanks, Dave Vaio.)
  12. Took the 1990 Lebaron to the local Chrysler dealership in 2006 for its state inspection (74,000 miles). "Boy, that sure is a clean convertible. Shame that we can't pass it, needs emergency brake pads". Okay, fix it and pass it. The service manager comes out and says they don't make the part anymore. He might be able to find a pair in six months or so but they'd be expensive, around $175 or so. Maybe I want might want to check out one of the nice Sebrings on the lot? Instead, I took the car one mile down the road and told the mechanic. He not only laughed but asks how many sets of pads I wanted; a call to NAPA brought a pair for $48 to the garage in a half hour.

Sales - price manipulation

  1. "What do you mean that the payments sound too high? Oh... Sorry, we accidentally used a 13% interest rate." (Ford).
  2. “That's without the engine.” — Hill-Kelly D-J salesman discounting a buyer’s price quote. — W. Caudle
  3. "Your car is worth $5,000. That's the book value. You can't believe what you see on-line [on the Edmund's site.]" (Paramus C-P)
  4. “This 2010 Journey R/T has the bigger brakes, so you can't get steel wheels for it. We can sell you a set of snow tires on 19” alloys for $2,400.” The car comes with a 16” spare, and Tire Rack sells steel 16” wheels which they claim will fit — with wheels and tires, it’s about half this dealer's price. — “Jeff2KPatriotBlue”
  5. We're losing money on this deal! - Robert McDaniel
  6. There is no such thing as the NADA Blue Book. We will just give you what we think it is worth! - R. Michael Murphy
    ( “I also got line 5 from Team Chevrolet in Colorado Springs when trying to get an estimate of the value of our 1982 GMC Crew Cab. It was in an accident and I wanted to know what the value was before the insurance company called.” - James Irsik )
  7. "You'll never sell that Spirit [R/T] for $4,000. It's only worth $750" (Toyota salesman...the car sold for $5,000 in the end.)
  8. "Your 2002 Dodge Dakota R/T QC with 6000 miles on it is only worth $15,000." Never mind the same dealer sold me the same truck for $24,500 six months prior to this! (Springdale Dodge; from A. Hart)
  9. "I was looking at an Escort GT (in 1986) and was trying to get the price reduced. The sales manager had the nerve to tell me that each car only had $100 profit added to it so the price on the sticker was a low as they could go....As I was leaving they said they would take a loss just to sell the car and I could have a $1,000 discount." - Tom Davies
  10. "Nissan of Bakersfield, CA. presented me with figures for a deal on a new Nissan Frontier and after the contract had been written and signed, he notified me that he would need an additional $2,500 because there was a difference in the payoff on my trade-in and the figure they had. They were the ones who called the Credit Union for the payoff. I went ahead and came up with the additional money and made the deal, but he had told me he was selling me the unit for $250 over dealer invoice and I suspect that he had second thoughts. I have never seen the dealer invoice so I have no way of confirming this." - Keith Mittan
  11. "We'll give you $500 for the 1990 Beretta GT sight-unseen." After bringing the car in they could only offer $100 and raised the price on the car we were talking about. -- Mike Smorul, Toyota dealer in Bowie, Maryland
  12. After 3 grueling hours of grinding the salesman down, I drove away with a used Ranger for about $3,000 less than the KBB window sticker price. A week later, while carrying out a pile of old newspapers, I [saw]the truck I bought., for $400 less than my "deal." I called and complained, and they sent me a check for $400 right away. — “Knight in Rumpled Armor,” Southern California
  13. Teterboro Chrysler’s used-car unit gave us a great price on a used 300M over the phone, so we ran down with cash in hand to trade in our four-years-older 300M for it. When we got there, the price was $3,000 higher than we had been quoted. Much argument brought a reduction in the requested price, back to what we had been quoted on the phone, but they moved down the valuation of our used car, too. The net price remained the same, no matter what the price on the new car was.
  14. “Well, the blue book doesn't really mean anything. You'd be lucky to get a dollar for your car right now.” (Ford dealer.) The Blue Book on my car in poor condition was $800, but the car was actually in Fair Condition and with its features and upgrades was listed at $1250.  I was only asking for a $500 credit. — Tiff in Denver Colorado

Sales - bad information

  1. My Dad was shopping for an F-150 and asked the salesman what the button at the end of the column shifter was for. "It increases the strength of the FM radio signal." Already having an idea what it was for, my Dad started one up and hit the button. The "Overdrive Off" light came on in the dash. (Don George Ford, LaPorte, IN; sent by Keith Reimink)
  2. When the Lancer arrived as a stablemate to the Valiant, I went to a Dodge dealer to see about buying one. The salesman told me the slant 6 was made that way because under acceleration it straightened up and sat vertical (don't they torque over to the right, which would make it lean even more?). Another salesman explained that the unibody was actually cut out of one huge block of steel. — Duane Hughes
  3. “Those aren't very good cars anyway. The engine leans over to one side and throws off the whole balance of the car.” — sales manager at Harris Ford, Lynnwood, WA, after selling a beautiful 1973 Scamp (with a 225 Slant Six) to another buyer despite having taken a deposit to hold the car less than 24 hours earlier. (Mike Sealey)
  4. Free "Swiss Army Knife" with every visit! (Paramus C-P) - How about a cheap Chinese knife that doesn't cut anything?
  5. "The Neon [Sundance] has a good Japanese engine. Designed and built by Mitsubishi." (several Dodge dealers)
  6. "We have exactly the car you want in stock." (Followed by, "Well, I thought we had one.")
  7. "The Toyota Corolla and Geo [Chevrolet] Prizm don't come off the same assembly line." (Toyota dealer trying to show how the Corolla is superior though being identical to the Prizm in every way except stereo and intake manifold).
  8. "Sure, the Colt is American. Built right here. Engine's designed by Chrysler." (oddly enough, the same dealer to insist that the Sundance has a Japanese engine!)
  9. When purchasing a used 94 Dodge Ram BR1500 from Gene's Chrysler in Fairbanks, I was told that in all likelihood the truck was an Alaskan truck. It has the complete winterization package on it which is only done up here. After closing the deal, I ran the VIN on the Web and found I was the sixth owner in six years and the first two and the location of first purchase was Iowa. (Stewart Nutter)
  10. Lindsey Davis wrote: "I was looking at a 93 Honda Prelude at a used car lot and I noticed the trunk wouldn't shut all the way and the wipers wouldn't work. The salesman said 'oh, my cleanup guy didn't tighten the bolts all of the way, it wouldn't take you 3 minutes to fix them.' I found out later that the car had been rebuilt with two different cars..."
  11. A Corolla is faster than a Neon, and it handles better, too. (Toyota salesman)
  12. "Neons are crap. It'll be dead in a couple of years." (Paraphrase from two Toyota dealers, a Mazda dealer, and a Honda dealer, three of which knew we already owned a 50,000 mile old Neon - and they were talking about a new, 1999 model. That Neon is still going strong at 95,000 miles.)
  13. "Sure, we have a five-speed V-6 Contour you can test drive! Come on in!" (Ford dealer, Route 17 South, Paramus - as you may have guessed, they did not have one.)
  14. "You will have your PT Cruiser in three months, max!!" (Peitre CPJ, Phoenix AZ, in April - had not arrived in October; from "CruisinMahala").
  15. "I was shopping for Jeeps in Northern Indiana (Logansport, Indiana at Donato & Sons Jeep) when I noticed a lot of large blue tarps hanging over just parts of the buildings signs. I knew this meant they had lost their five star dealership status due to a bad service department and customer complaints, as Chrysler had just really cracked down on bad dealerships and revoked licensing to over 5,000 dealerships nationwide. So [I asked why the signs were covered up and whether they were still a five star dealer, and he replied,] “No, we—re not doing that any more so we can sell our Jeeps cheaper than the other places!’
  16. "While describing the car, the salesman was explaining how many parts were actually Mercedes, including the seats," which he said looked like those in the 7-series - which is made by BMW. (sent by Christopher Majba)
  17. "We cheat the other guys and pass the savings on to you!" - from - printed on a used car salesman's card in Hawaii
  18. “I saw a white Honda Accord advertised online and went to Honda Auto Center of Bellevue, WA to test drive it. The assistant manager went to get the key and came back with the keys to an older, more expensive, higher mileage vehicle in silver. His reason? White cars are the least popular color. (With “all his years” in the car business, I guess he never read the stats on most popular car colors). — Christa
  19. While still car shopping, at Honda of Kirkland, WA, I was told by the sales consultant, that if I purchased this vehicle that I would be helping him to fund an orphanage that he has in Bangladesh. — Christa

Really bad information (mostly service)

  1. "Children only fit in built-in child seats for a few months...they aren't any safer than the aftermarket seats." (Salesman and man introduced as sales manager at Parkway Toyota in Englewood, New Jersey)
  2. "The rocking drivers seat is normal on Durangos." (New Braunfels, Texas, Chrysler Plymouth dealer; sent by Bruce Vipond)
  3. " 'Technical Service Bulletin' ?????????? "
  4. "The factory recommends 10W30 oil now. There was a change. It wasn't in the service bulletins."
  5. "Those can't be repaired; you have to get a whole new unit."
  6. "Dodge engineers haven't figured out a way to remedy the problem yet."
  7. "These cars will idle differently depending on the weather, temperature, humidity and such." (Real reason: mechanic forgot to reconnect distributor advance vacuum hose.) - Aaron Gold
  8. "Customer first..."
  9. "That part is on back-order; I can't tell you when it'll be in."
  10. That price for repairs is only an estimate. The actual price may be less.
  11. "The only way to get engine codes is with our analyzer.... You simply can't get codes with your key...You have to be trained." (Chrysler).
  12. "Test drive? ....uhhh, SURE, the mechanic drove it to see if he fixed the problem..."
  13. "I've never heard of that before." (TSB issued for months)
  14. I've never seen that before. (Chrysler dealer on encountering an LED in the computer - he guessed it was an aftermarket conversion. Nope, standard on 1984 modules)

Really bad mechanics

  1. "We're sorry but the mechanic replacing the shock absorbers on your Daytona ES accidentally caught the vehicle on fire. We think it might be totaled." The entire interior was a mass of molten plastic. (New Braunfels, Texas, Chrysler Plymouth dealer; sent by Bruce Vipond)
  2. I purchased a used 1977 Plymouth Volare in showroom condition with 34K miles on it. From sitting, it accumulated many problems. I took it to Tate Dodge because the A/C was blowing hot. They did the R12 to R134a conversion and charged $190. They said: "It's ready to go and it's COLD!" I drove the car 500 feet and the A/C Belt started squealing. I took it right back and they then stated that the system needed a compressor, expansion valve, and recharging. The new bill: $1275! I contacted a relative that works in one of their sister dealership garages. He spoke to the service manager, who then agreed to do the job at half price. He stated that the labor was way over-rated initially. — Michael Shai, Baltimore
  3. "The tow truck driver ran into the service garage partially collapsing the building onto your Durango. I'm sure the scratches will buff out." (New Braunfels, Texas, Chrysler Plymouth dealer; sent by Bruce Vipond)
  4. "The power window actuators are bad, they'll need to be replaced." Actually the windows were stuck. Ongoing problem. (New Braunfels, Texas, Chrysler Plymouth dealer; sent by Bruce Vipond) "This [including the prior two items] is absolutely true. I have the documents to verify them."
  5. "Your car should have the bearings repacked, they look dry, and the rear drums need to have the brake dust removed." Bearings were repacked two months prior .
  6. "We replaced the subframe assembly parts as per the recall" (two weeks later I got a card tellings for the recall were in and to please schedule an appointment for the repair. "Ooops, we must not have gotten to your car the first time") - Ford Dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, submitted by Maggie Collister.
  7. "We're all trained mechanics here. I promise we didn't cut your wires to your subwoofer on your 93 Cavalier when it was in for warranty work. It's out of our sight for 90% of the time it's here."
  8. "That mechanic doesn't work here any more."
  9. "I'm sorry, but it looks like you need to have the headgasket replaced" (approx $750) Courtesy Chrysler, Calgary, AB. Actual problem - my husband forgot to put the oil cap back on the car after adding oil! Thanks, Tracy Reynolds
  10. The reason why your Jeep Grand Cherokee Quadra-trac V8 is sluggish and hesitant on acceleration is because your tires are oversized and are messing up your gear ratio. (I replaced the spark plugs and the power came back) - Seemed they left 2 old spark plugs at the 30K service, but they were quick to quote me $1500 to swap out my gears (Stock tires are 225/70/16.. i had 245/75/16's) - (Eric Duncan)
  11. "I'm sorry, it seems your wastegate is fused, we'll have to replace the entire unit. We can put a reconditioned turbocharger on for $1800." -Ron Olsen Dodge, Omaha, NE. (Real reason: retaining clip had fallen off of wastegate actuator rod. Cost: free, friend's dad had a spare clip. Runs like the dickens now.) -Cris Marshall
  12. "Won't the car start? Strange, have you tried to turn the key both ways?" - Böll
  13. "This car can't be put onto the computer. It's too old; the computer is analog, not digital." (Volvo dealer, referring to a 1994 Volvo 850 - which most certainly does have a digital computer. Had the dealer actually tested the car, instead of charging $85 and not testing it, he would have found the problem which made it stall on a regular basis.)
  14. "We tested it completely and found nothing wrong." (See the Volvo item!)
  15. Went to dealer to have a problem looked at. A squeaking was coming from somewhere near the right front tire. The next day I noticed the plastic splash guard above the same tire was missing a clip and two screws and was scraping on the tire every time i went over a big bump. I went back and they said it was not covered under the warranty and they did not take the screws or clip off. Problem occurred in same place they were looking the day after they looked at it. It only cost $50 but I should not have had to pay. (Concord Toyota in California) - Jimmy
  16. In 1986 in Hampton, Virginia, I took my XR4Ti to the Merkur dealer for speedometer noise. When I got it back the noise was gone but the cruise control did not work. I took it back in and they had it for days and could not find anything. Finally they called and were very short and said they "fixed" it. When I got there they were very ugly and said "someone" I let work on it had disconnected the speed sensor. On that car the sensor is in the speedometer cable behind the speedometer head. They themselves left it loose and they wouldn't even admit it !! - David McDonald, P.E.
  17. I took (well, towed) my new 2004 GTO into Borcherding Pontiac when it died on the road. The next day I got a call and they said they replaced the battery and it is fine now, this happened 3 more times with them just saying nothing is wrong before they discovered a dead fuel injector and a bad wiring harness. Just recently it died again and I towed it in to find that the oil had coolant in it. They insisted on putting stop leak into the heads because they couldn't find a problem. They accused me of putting antifreeze in the oil fill hole saying this is the only way it could happen I said, so you're saying your top notch mechanics cant find a problem. They sealed the Oil Cap, Dip Stick, Radiator Cap, Cooling Hoses (to prevent me from doing anything with oil/coolant), and told me to come back in 500 miles. --Alex, Cincinatti, Ohio

Service theft

  1. My mom had to have a ball bearing changed. The part and the labor came to over $200. My brother went about a month after that and had the same part changed on the other side of the same car. His bill was $75.
  2. We received a direct mail coupon for a free "80 point check up" from my local Volkswagen dealer on our (just-purchased used) 1998 VW Jetta GLX. In curiosity, I made the appointment and brought it in. Two hours later I received a call from the shop: "Well, the tappet cover gasket, oil pan gasket and head gasket all need replacing along with a full brake job, timing belt and "tune-up" (spark plugs and wires)." The kicker is what they said next: "No worries though, the gaskets are all covered under your 70,000 mile warranty, but the brakes, timing belt and tune up aren't." Now I wasn't that well versed in VWs at the time, but I got smart quick. I told them to roll it outside if they had to and Not To Touch A Fuse! I called around and found a private shop that specialized in VWs and brought it there. My new friend Mike informed me that there is no 70,000 mile warranty, only a 100,000 initial buyer and 50,000 second buyer power-train warranty. The head gasket did need replacing but everything else was fine. The brakes lasted another two years and I did the "tune-up" myself six months later. (Jason Groszowski, MI)
  3. The head gasket went. Found one - at a junk yard - off a car that was on the lot. $30. They said they would put it in for me. When we went to pick up the car they said they found other problems and changed the engine - $800!!! (Johnstown/Somerset area in PA)
  4. "Just to let you know, it can take up to 1.5 hours to program a new remote alarm transmitter." Service rep wrote $157 on the work order for estimated charges to program the remote. (Herb Chambers BMW, Boston MA). Called another dealership that said it takes 10 minutes and would be happy to do it at no charge. (Thanks, Lawrence Gandt)
  5. A local DCPJ Dealer here in New Smyrna Beach, FL, was doing free oil changes on any DCPJE vehicle. I took my 95 Dakota in to have the oil changed. I got it back 20 minutes later, and noticed there was no oil pressure. I took it back and told them what was happening. They promptly told me the oil pump was bad, and would be happy to replace the engine for around $2500. I told them no thanks, and went home. Problem was a disconnected oil pressure sender wire. -- Kevin Bess
  6. On that same truck, the same dealer told me that the rattle I was hearing in my 5 speed tranny was a input shaft bearing, and that all 4 cylinder, 5 speed dakotas did it. They said they would replace the bearing under warranty, but it would not fix the problem. I took it to a tranny shop, where the guy there replaced all the bearings in the tranny. I also replaced the clutch, pressure plate, and throwout bearing. I took the old bearing to the dealer to show them what was up, they said that since I had worked on the vehicle myself, that they were going to void my warranty. Two weeks later, they replaced the driveshaft, under warranty! -- Kevin Bess
  7. Made arrangements to have Bennett Dodge (now defunct) of Oak Park, IL to work on car, decided to change oil the day before, since it was due for change anyway ... the service manager claimed that 'the oil looked as if it had not been changed regularly.' (It had been changed the day before!) The engine began a noise symphony again several months later; had to be towed to dealer when it stopped dead, and dealer tried to claim that the warranty didn't cover the car. A Chrysler rep straightened that out, after phone calls and letters ... but, the engine gave up again, and they claimed to have worked on the engine the third time, but I noticed a cigarette butt that was left on the engine still in the same spot when returning to pick up the 'fixed' car! (Mike Reese)
  8. ..."After the guy had the car on the rack he came back in (long face and all) and said I needed new front wheel bearings and proceeded to tell me it would cost about $300 to do the job. I told him I had just done a brake job on the front wheels the day before and had just repacked the front wheel bearings and that they looked like brand new. You should have seen his face. OOPS! ... He said ok we have to charge you a $35 check out fee. I said no way. He said that is the way it is. I turned around [to the waiting area] and told my captive audience the story of how he checked my wheel bearings with his x-ray vision. As I finished it about 8 people walked out and they happily handed me my keys so I would leave." (Mark Whitehouse)
  9. Roughly 200 miles into the trip to Dallas, I experienced a huge transmission leak [in a Lincoln Town Car]. With very limited automotive knowledge at the time, I stopped in Lincoln, Illinois. Looking under the car with limited automotive knowledge I did not recognize anything that could be blamed for the loss of the trans fluid. Speaking to the Service Manager at Graue Chevy, Buick, Olds, Pontiac, Cadillac in Lincoln, I was informed that there was a gaping hole in the transmission, hence the leak. Mr. Service Manager informed me it would cost $2000 to fix the 'hole'. Not knowing any better, I left the place with a 1978 Caprice Classic. Little did I know, the problem was a seal that had become dislodged and my 1994 Silver Lincoln with a black rag top that I had to trade plus $300 was in fact only $100 away from running beautifully again. If this Dealership can do this to a single parent, there's no limit to this ethics deficient thinking. Since then, I've become ASE certified and have vowed never to let that type of highway robbery happen to anyone else if I had anything to do with it. (Pablo Otxoa)

What happens when you complain?

Thank you for your email to DaimlerChrysler regarding your [car].

I regret the problem your vehicle has experienced and appreciate the time and effort you took to bring this matter to my attention. Comments like yours are one way we have to learn of problems that may develop and improvements desired by customers.

Unfortunately, given the many variables involved, we are unable to diagnose your vehicle's problem via email. We recommend contacting your authorized DaimlerChrysler dealership to arrange an appointment for proper diagnosis and repair.

Our dealerships have the factory training, equipment and information available to them to diagnose and correct problems with DaimlerChrysler Motors Corporation vehicles. Should your dealer require factory assistance, it is available through the regional Business Center.

If you have been working with an authorized dealership but the problem is not yet resolved, seeking a second opinion from a different dealer may be a viable option.

Thank you again for your email.

Stories of good and bad service

The good news!

...your letter and the ALLPAR.COM web site saved me a lot of money and time. It seems that knowledge of the transmission fluid problem is not foremost in their minds or maybe they are happily using it as an excuse to drum up business. In any case the "driveability" expert for the Plymouth dealer went for a ride with me in my 94 Gran Voyager, at which time I showed him the 37 mph shudder, he immediately diagnosed it as a transmission problem. I asked if he could be more specific, such as what inside the transmission might be the problem. He thought the torque converter should be replaced and while the transmission was open the seals should be done too. I asked the service department head guy what it would cost to replace the torque converter and he looked in his huge book detailing the hours it would take to do the job and came up with 15 hrs, which equated to $1900 plus $165 for the torque converter and $95 for the seal kit. I said no thanks, and instead bought a new filter and 5 quarts of 7176 transmission fluid. I would have liked to change the fluid in the torque converter as well, but the parts department guy said that it was sealed and that the torque converter fluid does not commingle with the fluid in the rest of the transmission.

I changed the fluid and the car now drives great. I don't know what fluid was in the car previously, since I had just recently bought the car. When the dealership opens on Monday, I intend to give Joe (the "driveability" expert) a ride in the car and show him the difference. Thank you, I would have been completely at their mercy if it had not been for your letter and the web site.

Just ignore that noise behind the curtain

There is a huge dealership in my town that sells just about every make and model of new cars. My wife and I were looking for a good used truck, and happened on a 1992 Chevy pickup at their used lot. We talked to the salesman, and in just a few minutes we were on a test drive.

When we were leaving the lot the brake pedal went almost to the floor before jarring the vehicle to a stop. Then, the transmission would shift into second gear with huge jolt. It took us about ten minutes to realize that the truck was not safe on the road, and we took it back to the dealer. We were still interested about it, so we told the salesman what the problem was. Seeming concerned, he went for a quick test drive and confirmed that the truck was not in the best of condition. We asked him if the problems could be repaired before we bought the vehicle. He seemed confused about our request, so he went to his boss, who said the brakes were fine he drove it yesterday! The salesmen then informed him (in front of us) that he had driven the vehicle and it had a problem stopping, and the shifting wasn't good. The sales manager gave him a horrible look, and told us that every vehicle was thoroughly checked out before being put on the lot, and then added, "besides, what do you expect from a 15 year old truck?"

They were asking $5,500 hundred, top dollar for a truck of that year and type. It just seems silly. P.S. The dealership ended up wholesaling the truck because no one would by it! -Chris Stirewalt

Why should we pay?

I have a 2002 Buick Lesabre bought used in May 2002 from a Buick dealer. It had 11,000 miles on it. The car was brought in April 8, 2004, for oil change and lubrication, and state inspection. The car then had 38,005 miles on it.

A service advisor advised me that the passenger side  tie rod was worn and should be replaced and that wheel alignment would also be necessary. I told him I had an extended warranty and gave him the paper work. He checked with the warranty company. He advised me that it was covered and would proceed with the job.

When I returned home there was a message on my machine that my bill was $1,099.46. I assumed that there was an error and that they must have called the wrong owner. The service advisor advised they had installed the tie rod and gear rack. Parts were $550 and labor was $391.95. I asked how there could be that much labor when the car was only worked on for, at most, 1 1/2 hours. He said it went by the book.

I also asked whether it wasn't unusual for tie rods to be worn at 38,000 miles especially inasmuch as the 27,000 miles I put on the car were almost 95% on interstate highways. He said "you drive the parkway and you're always steering."

  • I never complained of a loose front end. The intake statement only requests Oil Change and Lubrication service and NY State inspection. I was never told that the car needed a gear rack. No one ever advised me the bill would be $1,100 didn't understand how all of these services could have been done in 1 1/2 hours:
  • Oil Change and Lube service
  • NY State inspection
  • Installation of tie rods
  • Installation of gear rack
  • Wheel alignment

I asked that a copy of the bill be sent to me and he assured me that "the girl was putting it into an envelope as we spoke." That was on April 8th. On April 13th I still hadn't received the bill. I called again and asked him to send me another copy of the bill. On April 14th I received 2 envelopes; each contained a bill. Both were postmarked April 13th. (I have the envelopes.)

I waiting for the payment to appear. On April 26th I called the warranty company. They advised that everything was approved etc. but they were still waiting for the invoice for the repair from the dealer's service dept. I then faxed it myself to the warranty company.

I checked further. I phoned another Buick dealer. I told the service advisor I might need tie rod and steering gear rack. I asked if I brought the car in for the first appointment in the morning how quickly I could get the car back. He told me it would take at least half a day. (That was without the oil change service and the NYS inspection.)

I also took the car to my mechanic of 22 years. He put the car on the lift. The tie rod on the passenger side was replaced. It was clean and has no rust. However the gear rack was rusted and was obviously been in use for a long time. I returned to the dealer service dept that charged for the repair they hadn't done. When I went to the service desk to get back my papers the service advisor mumbled that they "must have pushed the wrong button". (That, after I had questioned how they did 5 hours of labor in 1 1/2 hours.)

I was paged to the cashier and advised that they were crediting me for $740.99. I in turn sent the warranty company a letter advising them of the "error". I also sent them my check for $740.99. (contributed by David Veder).

Brakes (Matt Fitzer)

I am lucky to have found a great local mechanic, because I had nothing but trouble with the Dodge dealers for my 1999 Intrepid SE.

The first one is both negative and positive. We took it in to Forest Lake Dodge because the brakes were squeaky and warped, and they gave us a brand new Mitsubishi Montero Limited with 500 miles on the odometer as a free loaner. We were just mesmerized, but they said it was no big deal because they would only have our Intrepid overnight. The next day, we got a call saying that they did not have the brake parts but they had them on order. They said the parts were in Indiana (not really all that far away) but would take at least 3 or 4 days to get there. We asked them what they wanted us to do with the Montero we had, and they told us to keep it for the weekend. This worked out well, because we had a trip planned and it was nice to have all that cargo space and comfort.

The next time we brought the car in to Forest Lake did not work out as well. The car was making a humming noise while decelerating above 30 miles per hour, but would not make the noise while accelerating or at a constant speed and it stopped humming below 30MPH. We took it in and told them what was wrong and to drive it at least 40MPH to hear the noise, and they sent us home in a Daewoo Nubira for the night; no complaints, it was still free. When we got back, they said they fixed the noise and that it was a plastic piece rubbing against part of the drivetrain and billed us for about $50. The road the dealer is on is a 40MPH zone, and as we were driving away we noticed the noise was still there.

My mom was driving the car at the time, and she said she'd take it back the next day. I told her that they obviously did not test drive it because their dealer is on a 40MPH road and they would have heard the noise, and I said to take it to Central Chevrolet/Dodge in North Branch where we bought the car. She took it back to Forest Lake Dodge the next day because it is closer, and they later called us and said that the whole tranny needed to be replaced. We never found out if it actually did need an entire new transmission, but I suspect it did not and we might have been able to avoid the $3400 if we'd taken it to Central.

A few months later, she and I were taking a trip and the car seemed to have run out of gas. I looked at the tank and it read 3/8, so I knew it was the fuel pump. We had AAA tow it to Pine City Dodge, and they knew right away it was the fuel pump and had us rent a Neon. We got the car back later that night, and $600 later had a new fuel pump installed. A few days later, my mom noticed that the car smelled like gas. She called Forest Lake Dodge to ask if we could bring it there, seeing as it is much closer to us than Pine City, but they said we'd have to take it to Pine City to fix it. They fixed the problem for free, which was I believe a poorly tightened gas line, but it was a long drive to get there. Later that night, I was driving down the highway and the driver in front of me threw their cigarette out the window and it went right under the Intrepid. It probably would not have ignited, but still is a scary thought.

Combined stories...

I purchased a new 2004 Sebring Touring Sedan. Three months later, and with not more than 2,500 miles on the odometer, something in the front end was loudly "banging" over bumps. You couldn't miss the noise. Of course, the techs found "no problem" after 2 days. I also noted that my trans bangs into gear when cold. Well, 2 weeks later, with the banging noise getting more annoying, I brought it back. They called me the next day saying they couldn't find anything wrong, again. I refused to take the car. Finally, they called me the next day and said the front struts were defective, and replaced.

Now, with 9,000 miles, I brought the car in for the trans problem they never fixed, warped brake rotors (baaddd pulsation), and a grinding noise when turning out of the front end. They had the car for 4 days... 4 days! And they replaced the steering column?! Of course, when I got the car back, the grinding noise is still there. My trans still bangs, they never found the problem, and my brakes pulsate so bad, stuff literally falls off my and seats. The funny part was, whenever I'd call to see if it was ready, they said it was on "parts hold". I doubt they even drove the car! (from Chris; about Mike Riehls Roseville Chrysler Jeep.)


I am a service advisor at Ford so I know what is right and what the Jeep dealer is trying to fill me full of it! The best line I ever heard was from Big4 Motors in Calgary, AB. “There’s nothing wrong with your Jeep...some of the engine wiring does just melt for no reason.”

Me: Three times? Them: “We have a high altitude here in Calgary...there is nothing to worry about Ma’am.” (Only Jeep I have ever owned with this “normal” problem!)

Another one from Big4 Motors “The rear main (engine seal) is only leaking a little...not enough to be covered by warranty” (there is a documented problem with rear main engine seals on the Jeep 4.0 L engines...Chrysler Canada would only comment that its dealers are independently owned and I would have to deal with one of them.)

One from Tower Chrysler in Calgary, AB: “Yes, we have to charge you for checking your leaking axle seals...even if the repair is covered under warranty...the manufacturer does not pay us to put the Jeep up on the hoist.” I suggested them go to the rear of the vehicle and look at the leaks while it is on the ground in the lot...answer: “Our Techs are not qualified to do that type of diagnosis.” Same dealer would not cover the power steering pump because it was noisy and leaking...said it had to fail completely to be covered under warranty...another dealer replaced it under warranty no hassles...and the axle seals.

Courtesy Chrysler Calgary, AB. Me: “My rear brakes are noisy and grabbing, please clean and adjust them-low mileage shouldn’t need replacing—probably just mud or whatnot in them.” Them: “All done...we cleaned them...they sound fine now.” Me (15mins after picking Jeep up on my cell phone to Courtesy): “My brakes are still noisy and grabbing.” Them: “Nothing we can do”. Me (30mins after picking Jeep up from dealer-after jacking the Jeep up at home and checking things out myself—rear drums had not even been removed-dry mud still on-in them-no cleaning had happened there): “you guys charged me to clean my brakes and you didn't do the job.” Them: “you must have driven over something on the way home.” Me: “I want my money back.” Them: “No.” Chrysler Canada: “Courtesy Chrysler is an independent dealer, you will have to talk to them about your issue Ma`am.” — CanadianJeepGirl

Another (long) story

Please feel free to add "Chris's Dodge World" (formerly known as Stevens Creek Dodge) in San Jose, CA. to your list of dealership scammers. Now, I'd like to share my reasons and experience with you.

Back when they were Steven's Creek Dodge, I had brought my 1999 Dodge Durango SLT in for its 30,000 mile servicing. At that time I was quoted $640 for the service. When I picked up my truck, the total service was a little less, $616.56 to be exact. This total included $485 for labor, $105.90 for parts, $15.90 for motor and tranny fluids and $9.76 for taxes.

After 2 years and bringing it in for other regularly scheduled repairs, now it was time for my 60,000 mile servicing. I brought my truck to this same dealership, I'm assuming its under new management with the new name and all, and this time I was quoted $795 for this service. $155 more for the same exact servicing? I understand that labor charges slowly go up over the years, but in our poor economic state of things these days, this is just insane. I still do not have my truck back yet, I brought it in last Thursday morning, nor have I received an official price on what this 60,000 servicing will cost. Which brings me to my next issue with this dealership.

Back in April of this year my water pump had failed and I brought it to them for repair. Thankfully, this service was covered by my extended warranty though my bank, so all I needed to pay was a $100 deductible. However, this repair cost no more then $425 when said and done, including parts, labor, fluids, and they even replaced a faulty bypass hose along with the waterpump. In any case, my truck started to overheat again 7 months later, and I was so close to 60k miles that I figured I'd schedule them both.

Now I find out that this new overheating problem is due to five rusting freeze plugs causing my radiator fluids to slowly leak over time. For this service, they want to charge me $1,550 to replace the 5 rusting freeze plugs. With each freeze plug only being a $10 dollar part, the rest is all labor. Now what is really upsetting is that they are telling me the freeze plugs are rusting because there was too much water to anti-freeze ratio in the radiator. With much debating with the dealer and begging my warranty company to cover this, neither will budge. The dealership won't cover it, even though they are mostly at fault for not putting in the right mixture and/or not replacing my radiator fluid when needed. And my insurance company will not cover the plugs unless the radiator fluid has been replaced at least every 15,000 miles.

So now I will be stuck with an $800 60,000 mile servicing bill, and leaking freeze plugs since there is no way I can afford $1550 to have this repaired right now.

Well, that is my experience with this certified Dodge dealership and repair shop. Thanks for listening, and thank you for your great website. Hopefully now that I am armed with this newfound knowledge, I'll be able to save myself a lot of money, grief and unnecessary repairs.

- Eric Masyk


In November 2000, I took my 1994 Concorde to the local Chrysler dealer. Car was running poorly, missing badly under throttle... I was told the car was running so poorly, the computer tester couldn't even read anything. They SUSPECTED bad catalytic converters (the 94 with 3.5 V6 has THREE!). They replaced the third cat, but no change, ordered the two that are just off the exhaust manifolds. A week passed and after not hearing from them, I asked if the cats were in, and they said they would reorder. Another week or so, new cats are in and no difference. Finally, after lots of frustration on our part, the problem is... BAD PLUG WIRES! And I later find this is a COMMON problem. A mechanic had wrapped electrical tape around the insulators and the car ran fine. I was stuck with the cost of the catalytic converters, but the dealer ate labor, sub contract charges, a weeks rental car and incidentals. Looking back, I should have insisted on them eating the cats too...

Fast forward three years. A name change and new owner, and ALL new service personnel. My 2003 NEON is making noise slipping into third gear. I let the service writer know I'd had a BAD experience at this dealer before. They ordered a new transmission (not rebuilt), and a week later, I drove away happy. Well, they COULD have communicated with me better. This dealer is Diamond Motors in Ridgecrest, Ca.

-- Roger Lister

A long story from Toyota

[When our 2001 Toyota RAV4] was nearing 2 years old, I got letter from Servco Pacific Toyota to get a two year rust proofing check. I went to Kauai Toyota, and they checked my RAV4 and tell me to bring car back on April 6 and can pick back up on April 8, for what I considered very small rust spots approximately 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, at the front window posts.

A couple days past that time [with no communication from the shop], I drove past the shop to see what's going on. I spotted my RAV4 across the street from the shop with the front and rear windshields out and loose plastic front and rear. I was totally in shock! I had no idea my RAV4 was going to go through such major work.

On April 12, I have still heard absolutely nothing. I decide to take a drive by the shop and don't see my vehicle so I went in. I spotted my RAV4 in a paint bay with the windows out still and I asked a shop employee if I can go look at my RAV4. The man was very quiet but shook his head yes. I opened my door. I leaned on my seat to reach for personal belongings and my hand is instantly wet! Amazed, I looked down at the floor to find my floor mats standing in water. Dazed, I got the employee that I spoke with and he was still very quiet. He said, "We buff 'em out." I immediately left the shop of Kauai Collision, Kauai Toyota's certified warranty shop. I can't believe what has happened. Servco Pacific, Kauai Toyota, and Kauai Collision neglected to bring my car inside when it was setting outside with the windows out. FYI ....... It tends to rain on the island of Kauai, daily. We tend to be one of the wettest spots in the world. That's why they call us the "Garden Isle."

...... "We buff em out." I believe "We" were trying to dry out my RAV4 without my knowledge and buff it out and not ever tell me what happened. Neglect and dishonesty? You tell me....... Future problems with my RAV4 with being rained into? Water running all down behind dashboard? Wet carpets and mold here on a tropical island? Electrical problems?  Seats and mold? Had I crashed my car I would expect repairs. Neglect on simple, routine warranty work, I'm still in shock and sick. Some may say, "It's only a car," but it's a major purchase in one's life with a substantial amount of money down. I feel robbed.

In my opinion, that Toyota is being ripped off by Servco Pacific, Kauai Toyota, and Kauai Collision, on the extent of jumping on the warranty work to the degree they went to. I never stepped foot back on the property of Kauai Toyota, and Kauai Collision. This is July 19, 2004 and I have refused to take my car back. Not stepping foot back on the property, I still tried to resolve this matter on my own. ... I tried to get to the top of Toyota and they all seem shielded. I sent several e-mails in all directions to get there and most were ignored and one said I had to deal with the "region" which is Servco Pacific. I disagree but can't get to the top of Toyota which I feel I need to get to. All other Toyotos want to hand it off to the region. They did want to depreciate my car 2 years, give me $13,000, and sell me a new one at "cost" plus $500....... My dog can get that deal. They screw up big time and want to make money off the old car, never tell the new owner, and make a deal on me "plus" $500? Never admitted neglect and standing on the gas to make more? Cars come with too many "sticker" prices. Too many options and ways for the dealer to make money. They even have manufacturer incentives that are never passed on. They have model incentives, number incentives, etc........ and they wonder how they get that "used car salesperson" reputation...

Note: James Batten replied:

The person complaining of the shoddy work done at a Hawaiian dealership need not go any farther than the local college. Write a letter to the CEO and President of Toyota. Use words like "lacking honor" (as in leaving car in their care and they left it in the rain), "disrespectful" (lying about situation), "unworthy" (general attitude), etc...

Have a student or professor who speaks and reads Japanese translate the letter (for a small fee), then send that to Toyota of Japan addressed to the Chairman. He won't get the letter, at least not right away. His secretaries however will. You may find results faster than you think. A friend of mine did this several years ago when the paint began peeling off her new Toyota. Dealerships dead ended her, wanting payment for what they claimed was non-warranty work. She sent the letter to Toyota and a month or so later a representative of Toyota of Japan contacted her to schedule a new paint job, at dealer expense.

Sales story

I have a story to provide regarding Rancho Chrysler Jeep Dodge aka Rancho Auto Group, in Miramar, CA. There were a number of lies that took place.

I'd made up my mind to buy a new car and trade my old Sebring in. This Sebring is a convertible, leather, cd changer, Limited, clean. KBB rates it at just over $4,000 due to some minor damage in places. I'm at the tail end of a Chapter 13, so my credit's not stellar, but I make what's considered middle class income.

I get to the lot, talk to Chris, the "Internet Sales Manager", and we see the car. It's a 2004 Sebring Touring, looks nice. I take it for a test drive, and it's hot, so I turn on the A/C. Immediately the steering wheel starts vibrating violently. (Lie #1) I mention it to Chris, and he says, "oh, it's supposed to do that, no big deal, the A/C is hard on the car". I know this isn't true...while the A/C takes power above the regular, it shouldn't vibrate the steering wheel such that it's visibly moving. That's the sign of a bad compressor. So I demanded it be looked at before I take the car. He says ok.

We got back to the lot and I provided him all the paperwork he asked for in one shot. He talks to Finance, and then comes back after maybe 2 hours to say, "good news and bad news... (Lie #2) we can try for the 2004 Sebring, but it may not go through. Or we can try for the 2005 Sebring, and it's guaranteed to go through." So in other words, I can't get financed for a $12,000 car, but I can for a $14,000 car. So we test drive the 2005 Sebring. It's basically the same car with less miles. I note to Chris that the steering wheel wasn't shaking on this one, he said "well, it's got less miles, what do you expect?"

I decided to take the 2005. I have to sit there for yet another 2 hours before finally signing paperwork. Then I talk to the finance manager, "Randall" who tells me that I can get a "new car warranty" for the same price as a used car warranty. Bumper-to-bumper protection, that's great. Sign the papers, I'm off.

Now, most people don't know that the dealer has exactly 10 days to rescind the contract from the date of drive off. On day 10, "Chris" calls me and tells me that Finance needs me to bring the car back. I asked why, (Lie #3) he said he didn't know, but to call Finance. I called, left a message for "Randall" to call back. "Chris" calls back again and says, "Finance told me to just have you bring the car back." I know where this is going.

I end up having to leave work half a day early to go down to the dealership. I waited for 5 hours to have them tell me, "we weren't able to secure financing for you, so you'll have to pick a car for less money, we have three." "Chris" lied when he said that the 2005 was GUARANTEED to go through on top of all this. I would have taken my car back, if I didn't acknowledge the need for a better quality one.

So it's down to three cars - a 2004 Dodge Neon, a 2001 Dodge Stratus, and a 2003 Stratus Sedan. Neon's automatically out. I get passed off to some guy named "Frank." I asked him, "so is it absolutely 100% guaranteed that I can drive off in one of these cars?" he said, "probably". Is that a 'yes' or is that a 'no'? It ended up being no, as the finance guy told "Frank" that the Sebring Sedan was out and still struggling to do the Stratus R/T.

So now the Stratus R/T. I decide to test drive it. It drives ok, but I notice the shifter is loose, but don't say anything at that moment. We get back to the dealer and I do an inspection of the car, not finding any major problems, but the fog light is also out on the left side. There's also no keyless entry, even though the sticker clearly indicates there is. No problem, I'll just get the dealer's alarm. After asking for yet more paperwork that they really don't need, we finally get to the signing. I get passed to a new guy who tells me "this car doesn't come with any alarm or keyless entry, if you want it you have to pay $200". So I figure I'll just pay for it, so I ask him to put it in the financing. (Lie #5) "I can't do that, the deal won't work."

So then we go through the agreement. He says "you're getting a 2 year/20,000 powertrain warranty..." I stop him again and ask him what happened to the new car warranty, OR at least the option to upgrade the warranty to a better one. He says, (Lie #6) "again, I can't do it, the deal won't work that way, but you can pay cash right now and we'll do it".

So I just keep signing. I'm not replying to anything else. I refuse to speak another word, I just want to get out of there. We get to the Due Bill "this just says that you agree that we're not doing any repairs for you..." I stop him again. I mention the loose shifter and the fog light. He goes to get "Frank" and tells him the situation. Frank says (Lie #7) "there's nothing wrong with the shifter." I tell him it's loose. He says "no, it isn't, I checked it myself, it shifts fine". I tell him that it does shift, but the knob is not screwed on completely. He grumbles and goes off with the monkey. Comes back and they acknowledge both problems.

Ultimately, the warranty is poor, the fog light is still not fixed, and I had to buy my own alarm since they refused to let it be financed. I like the car but all I wanted was comparable terms to the first car they gave me. There was no excuse for lowballing me. They knew my credit situation from the first car and should have either attained financing or notified me of their inability to, before letting me drive off with that first Sebring. Then to continuously lie to me after the fact is completely unacceptable.

back in the old days

In 1977, I was at Fletcher Jones Chevrolet in Las Vegas, trying to buy a new truck. I was trading in my 1974 Roadrunner on it. I had picked out a K1500 4x4, and we sat down to make a deal. All seemed to go well, and we agreed on $3200+ my car+ tax. I called my mother to bring in a down payment, as the bank was closed, and I would then come back the next day to pay off the balance, in cash. Simple, right?

My mother and her boyfriend showed up about a half hour later, with $500, and the games began! They start writing it up, and suddenly, it's $4400+my car+tax! I stopped them right there, and they seemed shocked. I asked them what happened to the deal we worked out an hour before? They said they didn't know what I was talking about, and then showed me the obviously altered worksheet where whiteout had been used to change the figures on it. Things got heated quickly after that, and eventually I left.

I went down the street, to Las Vegas Dodge, where I bought a 1977 Power Wagon. A few days later, the salesman called, saying they had "forgotten to charge you sales tax!" They nearly had me convinced, but then I ran into someone else that the same salesman had forgotten to charge sales tax too! Lots of yelling ensued, and my dealings with "Sam," my salesman, ended with him throwing the manual and extra keys at me, screaming, "Enjoy your truck!!"

I never saw the level of scamming done in Vegas anywhere else. Just crazy. Seems like they wanted to make you never come back and buy another car from them again. Even dealerships that had been in business for decades would pull stuff that boggles the mind. A friend of mine recently bought a car (300SRT8) from a large Chicago area (Dodge) dealer, and the only underhanded move they did was to try to sneak in an extended warranty into the deal, when the car had almost 2 years factory warranty left. Other than that, it was a simple purchase.

Toyota dealer

My Mom bought herself a new 2007 Toyota Corolla S. It never had any problems for her while she had it (she was dying of cancer). I got it and within a couple weeks it was having serious issues. A full tank of gas would last me 150kms, and a half tank of gas would last me 50 kms! The front end sounded like it was dragging something rubber, it was constantly dying on me, idles really rough. I managed to take the car into the dealership to try to get it booked in. I talked to the service writer. (I've been working on cars all my life, and have worked in two Chevrolet dealerships). He pretty much ignored all the problems but was really intent on asking me about the mileage problems. He told me that if I learned how to drive it and didn't drive like a maniac, that it would get better gas mileage. That's when I told him that I drive at the speed limit and should he desire it I could bring in numerous witnesses (I ended up getting 14 people to phone and verify to him my driving). I kept trying to get him to look at the broader picture of the problem and mentioned to him that I had talked to a few other mechanic friends of mine and they agreed with me that there's a serious vacuum problem with it. The service writer looked at me and said "you're a woman, you don't know anything about cars." Strike out for Toyota! I'm now telling everyone what they've said to me and how they've treated me.

I called the sales department to talk to them about buying the car back, explaining that I've got my own car and that I'd inherited that car. I mentioned the problems with it and the salesman told me that I was wrong. I was polite and said to him (OFFERING an excuse to them) that I figure it must be a lemon because of all the problems. I was ever so politely told, in an aggressive and louder voice, that Toyota has absolutely NO lemons, and that ALL their vehicles NEVER have any problems! I was so stunned when I was told this that I started laughing at him and hung up. That was Friday, and by Saturday afternoon I had some of my buddies in my local Chevy dealership call me up and have lined up with a customer to sell the car after it's been through Toyota's shop. Would love to see the looks on their service writers faces when a Chevy dealership brings the car in for the appointment that's in my name!

"Well, it just doesn't work that way"

It was 1984. I was trading in my '79 Coupe Deville with the 425 ci. four barrell motor that I bought new in Stroudsburg at Mikel's Motors. It never ran right and they said it could not be fixed, (it turned out to be an improperly cast carb part), but that is another story. I was picking up my new Z28 form Outten Checy in Allentown PA. They said it could not be spot delivered because it had to be serviced. OK. I went back two hours later to pick up my new car (L69, stick shift), and it had this big dent in the hood where, I assumed, someone slammed the hood. OK, I accepted it. I found out later, the T-top leaks like crazy. The dealer said, "They all do." I accepted it. Then I found out that my motor breaks up at high rpm under full throttle. I spoke to the service manager about this problem. He leans back, narrows his eyes and says with more than a hint of envy, "You high performance customers expect these machines to run smoothly, well it just doesn't work that way." I went home livid. Later that week, a friend of mine told me he thinks there is a service bulletin about this problem. Sure enough, it runs too close to the exhaust manifold and the fuel is boiling in the line. The fix: install a low pressure fuel pump in the tank. When I pointed this out, they begrudgingly did the fix. Nice way to treat a new car buyer, don't you think? (John K. Lewis, Henryville, PA)


Thanks to Nevin Cheung, Mark Johansson, vandammej, Joseph Kintz, Jeff Pujol, Carol Cation, Ed Sinofsky, and others.

See our customer lies list!

The Independent Garage / Mechanic Lies List

(just started, 2-13-06)


Took my 1963 Valiant with rebuilt engine to have the valves adjusted. Gave them all the pertinent information: supposed to be done at 1,000 miles, but everyone wants to rebuild the carb; it backfires through the carb and idles badly, I have a brand new carb on it, also check the fuel pump hose, it's rotting, and check the radiator hoses.

After two days I get a call and the guy claims my driveabilty problem is my column mounted manual 3 speed's stick shift. The owner claimed the lumpy idle was "about right" but because I was so upset, they wouldn't charge me anything.

They never checked the spark plugs, wires, timing, radiator hose, fuel line hose, or carb. It was the stick shift. I doubt they even raised the hood.

Changed plugs and switched to a Petronix Electronic Ignition and new hi-powered coil, had a guy come out who adjusted the valves and it's never run better. I have had the car for 23 years, so I know what it needs and what has been done to it, but don't have the mechanical ability to really get deep into it [dropped a screw into the distributor when installing the Petronix and ruined it].

This joint is called "One Stop Auto" in W. Hollywood CA. The LAST stop as far as I am concerned. By the way, my stick shift is fine......  (Dave Gregory, Van Nuys)

Another case of the local garage

I wish to have the following story entered into your "Dealer Lies", of what happened to me with my 1995 Dodge Neon Highline, at the time having 130,000 miles. Now has 138,000 miles and runs like new.

I took my car in for a new alternator, and was installed normally. The next day, there was a jangling noise coming from the engine compartment, which I could not figure out. I drove around with it, and noticed that the noise occured most loudly when cold, and in "Park". I took it back the next Monday, and they told me that my motor mounts were shot, and the motor was coming back and hitting the power steering lines. I knew this was absurd, as I know the motor mounts are fine, and the noise occurred in "Park", and went away when in gear. I took it to the local Chrysler dealer, whom informed me that my mounts were fine, however they were unable to find the cause of the noise. I brought the car back home, still frustrated. I decided that there is no way that this noise could be normal, and started picking away at it on my own. I discovered that my alternator belt (a serpentine) was ripped, and the stray end was whipping against the other running gear. Seeing as the car was not doing this when I brought it in, and the mechanic would have seen something like this during the removal/replacement of the belt, I was entitled to a free replacement. I just think that it is hard on people to be led around like this, and I would appreciate my story being included in your archives. (Name provided but withheld on request.)

Another local-garage story (Drew May)

With my 1989 Reliant, I took it in for an inspection and tune up, knowing it needed one badly. Told them exactly that the spark plugs, oil, and antifreeze needed to be refreshed, and that there was a very good possibility of a head gasket leak (as I had overheated twice at random, often very shortly after starting the car, but then the car would run fine the rest of the day), so if they could find the leak, don't do the antifreeze or oil. I'd take care of the gasket first. Had a friend who could do it.

I came back six hours later, to discover a bill for $200. They had replaced the coolant, and my temperature gauge sender, telling me that that was certainly the reason for the overheating issue. Head gasket was fine. They also informed me of my brake rotors, which were very badly scored. I know this was caused by someone's sabotage, because when I brought the car in, brakes felt perfect. They refused to do any more work on the car until I addressed the brake issue, which they insisted needed a rebuilt brake-everything (calipers, rotors, pads, drums, more pads, and a wheel cylinder) for better than $800.

Anyways, I took the car back after grunting out the $200. Brakes pulsed noticeably, and the pedal was sinking lower and lower to the floor as I drove it home. Started it up next morning, got to the end of my street, and had to pull over with an overheat condition. And I was missing some coolant. Guess who was right about the head gasket?

Car developed a transmission problem later in the week. Topped off the brake fluid (pedal still felt like crap) and sold it to the local auction house.

Different car, same garage:

My 1985 BMW needed a timing belt and accessory belt job, because I had no bill for one in seven years of records. Talked to the mechanic, was told that these cars have no timing belts, only timing chains, which last the life of the car. So, went onto and asked, and got many a reaction, most very frantic and quick to note that the M20 engine DOES have a belt and needed to be changed PRONTO if not done in more than five years. Took the car back to the shop, demanded they do the belts. They gave me labour at half cost, and a discount on the parts.

Then I got the car back, and it squeaked in the right front wheel, the faster I went, the faster the squeak. Went back to tell them, was told my 'new brakes' (done 5,000kms ago) hadn't seated yet. It was a normal noise. Only problem is the car didn't have the noise before the belt service.

I'm selling the BMW and buying an Aries/Reliant wagon, and they're never touching it.


"The brake calipers don't need rebuilt!" —  We get this just about any place we go to get our brakes done. One time my husband took his car to Monroe Muffler/Brake and he got on them until they agreed to rebuild the brake calipers. It turns out my husband was right--and they admitted that yes, the calipers DID need rebuilt! And these people at a BRAKE shop seemed SHOCKED that something like this needed to be done! I say every time you get new brakes pads, have them rebuild the calipers--otherwise you'll have to replace pads, rotors, etc., more frequently. (Alexandra Spears)


My family had been going to the same local Goodyear for years. We're all on a first-name basis with the management, and they even remember my exact vehicle and tire size.

I own a full size Dodge conversion van, and I do most of the work myself, but if it's a task that I can't handle, I have Goodyear do it, as was the case of replacing my lower control arms. My left arm was shot, so I got a new one and took it to Goodyear and paid $125 to have it installed. Driving it home, noticed it was driving funny. Looked and found they installed the control arm on the wrong side! I had to pick up a replacement right control arm now too, since they threw out the old (good) one, and I needed them to put the control arm back on the correct side.

I talked to the mechanic that worked on my van, and he told me “the control arms are designed the same, you can install them on either side.” What? I couldn't convince him otherwise, so I went online, got a picture of the control arm, and overlaid a mirror image to show that they do NOT flip.

Mechanic reluctantly agreed that the control arm is in wrong, and told me to put the proper control arms in would be $250, since we would be removing both control arms and installing two control arms. I went inside to management and explained that I shouldn't have to pay for the second one, since it was their fault the control arm was in wrong -- hey, I shouldn't even be paying in the first place, they should never have touched the left side. Management agreed to the first part and only charged me for one control arm.

I've had other problems with the mechanics -- They snap a lug nut off, then drive in the wrong replacement (bolts for the 8.25" axle, I have a 9.25" etc), they stripped out the shock absorber screw hole, and replaced it with a nut-and-bolt... which was fine until I tried putting new shock absorbers in and spent a good ten minutes trying to remove the screw until I learned it was a bolt with a free-turning nut on the other side... Another ten minutes to figure out how I was going to hold onto a bolt that was in the middle of my coil spring, recessed down in the control arm.

Worst though was when I had a flat tire, and my van is one of those with the spare tire mounted on the back door — When the mechanic put the spare tire back on the rack, he stripped one of the two lug nuts and only put the second one on a couple turns — There was barely anything holding a 40+ pound tire to the back of my van!

Another national-chain story

We have spent over $5,000 on repairs for a 1993 940 Volvo (Turbo.) Each time we get it back it runs for about 5 minutes and then breaks down again. We just spent $600 for a new starter, that included labor and a diagnostic test at Precision Tune. The conclusion was the alarm system broke the starter. They said they would dismantle the alarm system, they cut one wire which our new mechanic said did nothing. We went to pick the car up, and it was not running. (This was after we paid $600.) The mechanic said it was the distributer cap, and it needed to be replaced. I had the Volvo towed to another mechanic (BP/Amoco on Hawthorne), and he said the car wouldn't start because of the alarm system, and he had his electrician remove it from the car. Now the car runs. I will never take a vehicle to a Precision Tune again. Athens, GA (from Julie)

Tire place

My dad was selling his Dodge Class C motor home and the buyer wanted a safety check and mechanical inspection, so they went to Fontaine Tire in Calgary. Even though the engine ran fine, had lots of power, idled smoothly, started on the first crank, Fontaine Tire said that cylinder #8 was totally shot and the engine needed complete rebuilding. They used an electronic engine diagnostic machine which measured the spark voltage to determine this. When I looked at #8 cylinder, I found that the exhaust manifold was leaking and carbon had built up on #8 sparkplug. I tightened one loose exhaust bolt and cleaned the carbon off of the spark plug with a rag to finish the "engine rebuild."

They also said that the rear bearings were packed incorrectly with grease and should be lubricated from the differential oil - the Dodge service manual says otherwise. Supposedly the right rear brake cylinder was leaking - there was some brake fluid spilled when the cylinder was replaced 2 months ago and the rubber cylinder boot was shiny. Finally they said that the emission system wasn't working because the vacuum lines were blocked off - it was done at the factory and was supposed to be that way!

After we checked each of the mechanical deficiencies, my father went back to Fontaine Tire and told them that if this sale fell through because of their incompetence, he would sue them for the sale price. You should of seen the manager's face! He blamed everything on the electronic engine diagnostic machine and took it out of service (until we left....).


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Blatant lies told by car dealerships - a partial list