Please give expert opinion and advice on this job and mechanic

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  #1  
Old 10-03-14, 05:14 PM
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Please give expert opinion and advice on this job and mechanic

Don't remember if I shared anything about the 2003 mini cooper son bought a year ago. It had over 160k miles, but was in pretty good shape. I believe there was suspicion that a cylinder was a tad low on compression at the time. Over time, it got to the point where driving was greatly affected. Poor gas mileage, check engine light, no power. Something would happen that Son said he had to turn off the car and restart it a few times... Son was suspecting something with the timing chain.
Learned from the BMW service department (the mini cooper service is a lot farther and the BMW dealer can do a lot), that the 4th cylinder was down to about 30%... can't remember for sure. they said it had to go the mini dealer to take the head off to see what was wrong etc.
Couldn't afford that at all, so I knew a guy that has his own shop that used to work for a BMW dealership, works under the radar, and could do the job for less than 1/2 price. We knew it would take longer. But so far it has been OVER 4 MONTHS!
We are beside ourselves.
When he got the head off, it appeared to him that the damage was not bad. He took it to the machine shop to do whatever is done to a bad cylinder. The machine shop did what he does and got the needed new parts, maybe a valve seal or something? He also said the damage wasn't too bad yet. There is only one machine shop still open that does this kind of thing, per mechanic, and it took a month. Then, when mechanic put it all back together, he said something was wrong and he finally figured out the machine shop had allegedly ordered the wrong part for his model... (model change in June 2003). Another part ordered, back to machine shop... put 2nd one back on, mechanic got head back, still had the same problem. So mechanic got on the phone with some company in Germany that deals with modified minis to get a valve seal that would fit. He said with the machine work, it was a little bigger now maybe? BTW, before getting this 3rd one from Germany, he called around to junkyards to find a good head, and couldn't find one. He said if he was able to find one, the price quoted was around $800.

so, finally he got the part from Germany. Back to machine shop for a few more weeks. Then he has a major family incident and more delays. Finally gets the head and timing chain etc.... everything back together and was prepared to start it up today. He said he was still concerned about that part. He said he wasn't sure it was going to hold.

Well, it apparently didn't, or something. Talked to him tonight and he said he is going to go back through everything and make sure of different things that may cause it to be running like it is to see if something else may be wrong, and then start looking for a head. He now says a junk yard connection has found one with 70,000 for $300 plus shipping.

Part of me wants to just have it towed to another mechanic that will be more, but hopefully still not as high as the dealership.

Hubby and Son feel this guy is just incompetent.

What are your thoughts and what would you do? (pop another zanex like I have been doing?) So far we have paid $800 for all parts and machine shop charges.

We had to rent a car for two days last weekend because of plans that we all had to have cars in different states, and we are going to have to do it again Sunday for two days if we don't have the mini running. Oh, did I mentioned the tags and inspection is approaching 4 months past due, which means the state will be sending a $400 penalty soon?
 
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  #2  
Old 10-04-14, 05:04 AM
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What are your thoughts and what would you do?
Trade for another vehicle.
 
  #3  
Old 10-04-14, 07:05 AM
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Well, OP, truly, things like this come with British and German vehicle. And Volvos. Over engineered, complicated, very part specific vehicles. It is hard to tell anything about your mechanic. It can be read both ways. I'd say, at least - he's trying and not pushing car out of his garage. I'd keep a guy who honestly calls me and says - sorry, this is what happened, let me fix it.
I am following a "do not change horses in the middle of the stream" principle. If I were you, I'd go there, nice and pleasant, and sit down with guy face to face. Start with expressing my gratitude on all the effort and honesty he did. Make sure to accentuate honesty. Then, simply tell him - look, this is my concern. Just like you did here. And then sit back and watch him. His eyes and his body language. You'll spot decency vs lye right away.
After vehicle is fixed - rid of it. Things like this will keep coming at you from now on more and more, should you decide to keep the vehicle.
 
  #4  
Old 10-04-14, 07:26 AM
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Thanks for the info. The mini seems to be such a great car. Son is talking about trying to get around $6000 for it, give us and Granddad (gave him $$ for car) $1000 each, and then get a 1987 or older truck. This way, for one, Son can do a lot of the work... (not engine or transmission big type though).

I guess this is probably a good idea, huh?

I really appreciate you all!
 
  #5  
Old 10-04-14, 01:44 PM
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No, but it's personal opinions. That's the problem with those cars - they seem to be such great cars. Seem is the key word. You talk to Jaguar owners. That's another never ending money pit.
Well, if he decides to go a for an old pickup, get a long bed Nissan truck. Those were virtually indestructible. Along with T100s from Toyota. Any Asian make before 1995 was pretty muc a reliable vehicle, before they started out sourcing them.
Btw, Ranger is a heck of reliable truck. Very primitive, but otherwise - indeed. You can get them for very good pricing, as they have nothing fancy and people want fancy stuff.
 
  #6  
Old 10-05-14, 07:41 PM
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i would start by thinking that the dealer knew something you mech didnt know about the job. which was why the price was so much higher. the number one thing people forget that they are paying for is knowlage. i my self have not worked on many minis because of this reason. the euro market is like no other they have stranger ways of doing things. (might be better but takes more training to understand). always go by the rule of three. FAST, RIGHT, CHEEP. you can only pic 2. and when all 3 get chucked out the window you need a new mechanic.
 
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