What to Do When Professional Auto Repair Doesn't Solve the Problem What to Do When Professional Auto Repair Doesn't Solve the Problem

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Q. I recently had a lot of work done on my car. The bill was very large - about $1400. They changed the struts, replaced the serpentine belt and they also did an oil change and fluid refill. I took the car in because the brakes were squealing and needed work. The whole carriage seemed to groan and squeak whenever it hit a bump of any kind and I wanted that looked at, too. I also pointed out that there was a new, higher motor "hum" while the car was in neutral and accelerating. While there, they found several other things wrong. They said the engine had normal acceleration sounds. I approved the work.

Now, a few weeks later, the carriage is still groaning and there are some new and frightening squeals when I turn the car. I'm thinking that I may have been charged for work that they didn't do. Should I take the car back to the place that did the work? Should I take it to another place? What should I do if I find out that the original shop was negligent in their work, or if they charged me for work they did not do?

A. It may have been diagnosed incorrectly, repaired incorrectly, or there was a lack of communication about the nature of the problem between you and the person writing the repair order. You can take the car back to the original shop and simply tell them of your concern. If you immediately accuse them of cheating you or call them incompetent, then you have just shut the door on resolving the problem. Another option is taking it somewhere and having them give an evaluation of what they feel was repaired on the vehicle and what was not.

Auto repair facilities in general have a bad reputation for ripping people off. The truth, though, is that almost all of them are honest. There are some bad apples that give the rest of us a bad name, but the difference between a good repair shop and a bad one is the quality and experience of the technicians.

The noise while turning could be low power steering fluid or it could be coming from the bearing or belt, which may also cause the whirring noise. It's very easy to check the power steering fluid - just look in the owner's manual for directions or have an attendant at a full service gas station check it. I hope you have added more coolant and water. If you drive the car with the coolant light on, you will make the problem much worse. If any of your friends have repair shops they trust, then give them a try.

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