"No one likes a car payment."
That's the response I got from an assistant supervisor at Brown's Hyundai in Manassas today. And that's true. No one looks forward to high repair bills. But should one pay for misdiagnosed work?
I took the car to the manufacturer's dealership because they are supposed to know the most about their vehicles. Albeit, they charge an arm and a leg to get any work done. But for $126, they said they would diagnose the problem. And they did. They stated on their invoice that I needed a new fuel pump/filter, and possibly a fuel pressure regulator. Total cost for parts and labor: $940.
Two parts, all self-contained. Knowing that dealerships tend to amp up their parts and labor prices, I had a trusted service center do the replacements for $500--nearly half the price. And the parts were OEM Hyundai parts. But it didn't solve the problem.
For over two months I dealt with this, often sitting in a parking lot and cranking in intervals every 10-20 seconds until the car would start up again. The service center did a second replacement of the fuel pump/filter (just in case), at their own cost of time and labor, and that still did not correct the problem. They even replaced the fuel pressure regulator for free. Still no fix.
So today I took the car back to the Hyundai dealership for a second diagnosis. The first time they spent less than half an hour on it. This time--nearly two hours. Subsequently, they determined that the fuel pump "works as designed," and that the cause was simply bad spark plugs and wires. For $660, they'd replace those.
I asked both the assistant supervisor and write-up personnel if they would give me any discount on that service cost. I already shelled out $625 for a misdiagnosis. They relayed the information to the supervisor and came back with a frank, 'No.' They said (of course) that if I had the work done there, they would stand behind it. So I asked point blank, "So you are telling me that if I had paid that $940 and that did not fix the problem, that you would have replaced the spark plugs and wires for free until the problem was fixed?" The answer I got was a roundabout, and the word "yes" was not included. And they didn't even want to stand by their original diagnosis.
So they wrote up a ticket for $660 for new plugs and wires, and added $330 for a possible crankshaft sensor. I left, of course, frustrated that the dealership in which I purchased the car could be so untrustworthy and unwilling to work with me.
Five minutes later I pulled into a parking lot and lifted the hood to make sure everything was okay. And lo and behold, they FORGOT TO PUT THE ENGINE COVER BACK ON. Not only did the tech guy forget that (how can you miss a part half the size of a human body?), but he didn't even know which cylinder was #5 when we looked over the engine together. "No, that's not 5, 5 is in the back," I said.
Lesson? I think the lesson here is that dealerships need to work with their customers when they make mistakes. It can only lead to more pleasant outcomes, and repeat service.
Follow-up: My trusted service center, Automo's on Euclid Ave., replaced the spark plugs and wires for $375, much cheaper than the $660 the Hyundai dealership quoted.