Am I Being Ripped Off?


Old 08-21-03, 08:09 PM
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Am I Being Ripped Off?

91 Ford F-150. My water pump started leaking...needed replacing. I took it to a shop and asked to have the water pump replaced. I asked them to flush the radiator and change the hoses. I expected about a $300 job. What I got was an estimate for over a thousand dollars. They said I have a blown head gasket. They said they did a "chemical test".

I couldn't afford the repair so I paid the diagnostic price...and took my truck home. I checked the radiator... from the radiator cap to the shuttle**** at the bottom of the radiator and no oil. I checked the oil dipstick on a hot engine, even took the oil filler cap water specs. I asked a friend to check the rear of the vehicle during startup, warmup, and when hot... no white smoke.

So, I don't seem to be blowing the oil out the rear and don't see any physical evidence of I being ripped off?

My friend said that if I don't have a loss of power and don't see any evidence then it's not likely that I have a blown head gasket but just in case he told me to put a radiator sealer in. He said that it would clear up any minute seepage.

What do y'all think? I can't afford a major repair... need options please.
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Old 08-21-03, 08:26 PM
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if you can't afford it then don't do it..

the test they prolly performed was to see if there was any combustion gasses in the antifreeze.

did you get the pump fixed? That would be all I would worry about. You might want to save up some money just incase their right on the head gasket.
Old 08-21-03, 08:52 PM
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Yep...replaced water pump...

AutoZone = $29 dollars for a lifetime warranty. I replaced the hoses and the truck runs fine. It's just the whole blown head gasket thing that bothers me but what bothers me more is the fact that the shop MAY have tried to rip me off.
Old 08-21-03, 09:14 PM
mike from nj
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time will tell.

keep an eye on things, like the coolant level and the temp guage.

i've seen cars with very slight headgasket leaks. the customer's only complaint was that the third heater core in a year was leaking, on a type of car that never has bad cores. i put the emissions analyzer probe up to the radiator neck and ----hydrocarbons! (unburnt gasoline), the only way it can get there is from inside the engine--it then reacts with the antifreeze and becomes very corrosive and attacks anything metal, the heater core being the thinnest thing.

a second opinion from another shop with an emmisions analyzer would either confirm or calm your fears.

headgaskets can leak many ways, internal, external, big leak, or a very small leak, coolant or oil or both. sometimes there are no signs at all except a continuously empty coolant overflow bottle.

let us know

ps. stay away from 'stop leak' products, i call them 'stop heat' products as they will quickly clog your heater core

Last edited by mike from nj; 08-21-03 at 09:54 PM.
Old 08-22-03, 03:46 AM
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Ask the shop to prove it to you. If they did the test, they should be able to show you and explain the results.

Either a coolant test chemically or as Mike said, through a gas analyzer would reveal the problem.
Old 08-22-03, 05:50 AM
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Kind of a rock and a hard place...

I like the second opinion thing....probably will do that. I've had the truck 12 years, since new and I've never had it overheat. I'm pretty good at looking at the gauges occassionally. The coolant overflow never empties however it does get low every now and then.

I did replace the heater core about 5 years ago... was real easy.... 7 bolts and let it drop....

Thanks for the info about the carbon/corrosive info.

My wife wants me to sell the truck to our friend who wants it for $2000. It is an extended cab F-150. I told him what the shop claims... he's an ex mechanic (found a desk job as an Accounts Property Officer - APO).... he ain't worried.

Okay....just got permission (no jokes please) to buy a new vehicle.... we both want a Ford Explorer Sport Trac....whoooo hoooooooo

But I'm kinda bummed out between spending a few thou to repair a decent truck- straight, no dents... to spending tens of thousands for a new vehicle ...and new payments. I hate decisions like this....
Old 08-22-03, 07:48 AM
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The decision is easy.

If you like the truck and can't stomach spending the money for a new one, fix what is wrong on the old truck.

Otherwise, don't sweat the details. Write the check, pitch the old truck to a friend and move on .

I've never owned a new car in 15+ years of driving. All of my cars are used or were freebies over the years from relatives that either gave up on them or just gave them to me.

New vehicles are a money losing proposition. I'd rather spend my money on a classic which will appreciate in value and have some charisma to it .
Old 08-23-03, 03:58 PM
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My first question would have been "Why did you do a block check without getting my permission????" I wouldn't pay any extra work that I didn't authorize!
What lead them to do the check anyways?

Personally, If I like what I drive, I'll fix it.. If I don't, I'll pay for another..Of course keeping the wife happy can surely help me make those decisions! **GRIN!**
Old 08-25-03, 09:17 PM
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I don't know....

I don't know why they did the "chemical" test. Maybe because I asked them to do a flush and fill of the radiator they took it upon themselves to do the check....but it still sounds funny to me.

Maybe they were trying to help me out...but just maybe...just maybe they were trying to get more work to do...and charge me more. I don't know.

I think I'm just gonna replace the water pump myself, change the hoses, replace the thermostat.... and run the truck till it dies.

*laughing*... but my wife still wants the Ford Explorer Sport Trac!
Old 09-04-03, 09:54 PM
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Okay...resolution ..... for now....

This is what I decided to do. I called a shop about having a water pump installed....they wanted around $200. Autozone had a new one for $29. That made up my mind.

I drained the radiator and took the old used coolant to the local firehouse that accepts junk like that. I took the fan shroud off... then.... took the fan off....then replaced the water pump.

While I had a bunch of junk off, I replaced the hoses - upper, lower, and bypass.... replaced the thermostat.... and then put everything back together.... oh yeah....flushed and filled the radiator too.

Anyway...been a while.... truck runs fine. No loss of power, no oil or junk in the radiator, no water in the oil.

Something someone earlier said sticks in my mind..... and you professionals on this board.... help me out....but.... if a customer comes in to you and asks you to replace a water pump and flush and fill the radiator...and replace the hoses.....

..... would you do a "chemical" check to see if he has a blown head gasket?
Old 09-05-03, 03:53 AM
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I would never just do a block check without talking with the customer first. If there was a reason for me to think it was necessary, I'd still talk to the customer. Either the truck would have to be running/missing real bad,getting hot real quick, ect.. On cars with aluminum heads that have been severely overheated, I'd have recommended it to the customer in advance..But for a typical car or truck with a leaking water pump, no I wouldn't.
Old 09-05-03, 06:00 AM
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You inspect the whole cooling system from stem to stern.

Why? Because if you guess incorrectly, you're eating the repairs and you have an angry customer.

As MSA says, you basically know what you're getting into when you see the vehicle and have done others like it before. Some vehicles make you cringe, others, you simply wish the customer would pitch it---there were many cars like that. I was SO happy the customer got rid of it. LOL.

On a vehicle like that, it sounds like your cooling system just hadn't been attended to in a while, so I probably would have done exactly what you did---throw out all the expendables and start from square 1.

I think you did a good job. A blown head gasket can be checked with a coolant tester or a gas analyzer.
Old 09-08-03, 09:35 PM
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You are right Joe

..the radiator was in bad shape. When I flushed the system...the water that came out looked rusty. I put in an additive to inhibit the rust...and I plan to flush it again after a few miles. I don't drive this truck much..... only put 3000 miles on it last year. I really like this truck....guess I need to treat it better.

Not to start a war or anything.... since y'all work on vehicles....which trucks come in more for repair? When I was working my way thru school I worked in an auto parts store and I seem to remember that Fords almost always came in for front end parts or water pumps while Chevys came in for alternator or electrical......

Ford, Chevy, or Dodge trucks?

And..... what do y'all drive?
Old 09-09-03, 06:30 AM
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I drive six GM cars:

1989 Chevy Cavalier 2.0
1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 307
1982 Oldsmobile Toronado 307
1980 Trans Am 301 Turbo
1980 Trans Am, 400 Pontiac conversion
1979 10th Anniversary 400 4 speed Trans Am
1993 Saturn SL2 1.9L DOHC (my mother's car).

The question of which car comes in more depends on too many factors to pin down. It's like asking which beer is better. Opinions are like noses. Everyone's got one. LOL.

Sounds like the radiator needs to be professionally boiled out....
Old 09-09-03, 07:04 PM
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We drive:
1991 Ford F-150
2001 Hyundai Sonata
2002 Kawasaki Super Sherpa KLR250
2002 Yamaha V-Star Classic
2002 Hyundai Elantra
1997 Ford Escort
2003 Honda Civic

The pickup is the only old vehicle we have.... so naturally the only one with problems.
Old 09-10-03, 06:20 AM
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The main thing with older vehicles is to keep up on the maintenance. When you do that, you are rewarded with good service for the long haul without any car payments or debt.

You have money to spend on other things, like classic cars which appreciate in value. LOL .

I should mention that both the 89 Cavalier and the 84 Oldsmobile were family members cars and were either going to get junked or get sold before I got them. Both are on the road and used regularly the Chevy is driven 200+ miles a week for commuting in bumper to bumper traffic .

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