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Out Foxing The Fox?

Q. Hello, I have a question about a car repair. I have a 1993 VW Fox. I took it to Monroe Muffler because there was a rattle/clunking in the front suspension when I went over bumps. I ended up needing new strut tops. Since my struts were old they recommended new struts as well (which I got).

Out Foxing The Fox?

Here's the problem, when I picked up my car the mechanic was taking it for a test drive. When he returned, I went outside to wait for them to bring my car back around to me (it was in the garage) and I heard the mechanic swearing and throwing stuff around. The Assistant Manager talked to the mechanic, got into my car and brought it over to me.

I asked what was wrong and he told me that there was still a clunking in the front (passenger side) because the "strum" inside the strut was loose. He told me that it should tighten up on it's own but if it doesn't, then I should bring back the car and they will replace it. They also did an alignment on my car.

So, my question is, is the Assistant Manager full of it? It doesn't make sense to me that it will "tighten up itself". He said it would be replaced for free, but if they do replace it will I need a new alignment? And if so, should I have to pay for that?

Any thoughts?

A. First of all, any mechanic who starts swearing and throwing things around is, in my opinion, very unprofessional. I would never take my car to a mechanic that displays that type of behavior, especially in front of the general public. If he can't deal with the frustrations that are sometimes part of the job, then he should get into a profession that doesn't have any frustrations (good luck finding one).

I do feel the Manager handled the situation completely wrong. Diagnosing a problem is 95% of being a mechanic. Any one can change parts, but a real mechanic can determine for sure what parts need to be replaced. Chain shops such as this generally do not pay enough to get good diagnostic technicians. If the problem was misdiagnosed, and it happens to the best of us, then he should have been more forthcoming with you.

For him to tell you that the "strum" (new one on me, I never heard of it before) will "tighten up" over time sounds like he wanted to get you out of his hair and when you came back, someone else would have to deal with you. It is quite possible one of the struts were defective. Just because a part is new, doesn't mean it's good. if it is defective and is replaced, it should be done at no cost to you. In this case that would include the wheel alignment.

One thing that I should mention about chain type repair shops is that the mechanics are generally paid on salary + commission. That is to say they are given a small salary and the bulk of their pay is based on a percentage of the parts and labor that they sell. As an extra added incentive for mechanics to sell some stores offer bonuses and prizes for top sellers. The most notable chain store was Sears. They were found to have sold work and services that were not needed or over sold work above and beyond what was needed. Several other chains are under investigation such as Pep Boys, K-Mart and others.

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