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Fix This, Not That

Q. My name is Carlos and my question regards a 1991 Toyota Corolla DX ,4cyl engine with a cracked exhaust manifold. My question is just what effect will this have on my car since I still drive it around while the mechanic tries to locate the part. Also, will a recycled part be alright to use?

Finally, if I may give you the details, I would like your opinion on the repair:
I took it to a local Goodyear shop because this car sounded terrible ( I did not know the symptom was indicative of the manifold ). Based on a 'computerized diagnostic', the mechanic had me pay for a complete 60,000 mile Tuneup/overhaul (actual is about 63,000 miles) to resolve the problem.

This did not solve the problem and a different mechanic came out to listen to my car with me. Within a few moments of listening, he surmised it might be a problem with the manifold. Once he dismantled the shield, he showed me a nice crack in the exhaust manifold-which now will be an additional couple of hundred dollars more work.

While they are now trying to locate the new parts, they say they are willing to discount the labor fee slightly. After $300.00 for the overhaul, this will add another $200 of work. Am I being unreasonable in thinking that the fee is too much and I might be getting shafted, considering the original mechanic and his computer(?) missed out on the cracked manifold the first time? ( Does that mean in all the time he worked on the car he ignored the sound of the engine? ) I would have much rather have paid for a new manifold than the tuneup. What is your opinion?

I do appreciate your time and assistance.


A. It always pains me to see something like this happen. It's mechanics like this that give good, hard working and knowledgeable mechanics a bad name. In my opinion the whole staff from the person who wrote the repair order to the first mechanic dropped the ball. First of all, you do not need a computer to diagnosis an exhaust noise. Any mechanic knows you can do the best possible tune-up in the world and it will not fix an exhaust noise. I think mechanic "A" was looking for a big dollar, quick turn around job to bolster his paycheck. There is no possible way that he could have missed the noise a cracked exhaust manifold makes.

The fact that mechanic "B" found the cracked manifold so quickly indicates to me that it was quite obvious what the noise was. Now the question of if the 60K service was needed or not is not the point, you went in with a specific problem and something else completely different was done, leaving you with the original complaint and a larger bill. Now, I can see diagnosing and estimating the exhaust manifold and then recommending the 60K service. But not the other way around.

I would suggest going to the local better Business Bureau, which Goodyear are a member, and request arbitration for this dispute. If arbitration is not to your satisfaction, then speak to an attorney about filing a civil suit. Goodyear made a big mistake here and you should not be the one to have to pay for it.

As far as causing any damage, I don't see that as a problem and I would, most definitely, use a used manifold. they are all over the place and, I would guess, at least $100.00 cheaper than a brand new one. In fact, you could go to a junkyard yourself, buy it and give it to them to put on. If it were my shop, I would have the mechanic who did the 60K service put it on at no charge.

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