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Chevrolet Repair/Charges for repair

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Question
QUESTION: Hi,

I took my 2000 Chevy Malibu LS in for repair because they said I needed a new starter and a lot of electrical work.  They said $200 for the starter replacement and $800 for the electric repair.  It turns out that a large portion of the wires in my dash wire harness are shorted and since they can't find another one they are repairing it.  The technician said that all the wire problems probably caused the starter problems, so even if the starter don't replace say they're going to still charge me for it because the problem will still be fixed.  Is that a normal practice in auto shops and should I have to pay it?  I realize they ended up with a lot more work then they anticipated with the electrical system, but if they don't ACTUALLY replace the starter should I have to pay the $200?

If they don't replace the starter, all the repair charges will be labor.  Is JUST labor taxable in auto shops (I don't know if state  matters, but I live in Maryland)?

Lastly, before I pay for the repair they have to give me a detailed invoice on PAPER explaining all the repairs that they did, certifying that they DID do them and that they've been done correctly, RIGHT?

Thanks so much!!!  These repairs are a nightmare!

ANSWER: HI JEFF,THERE IS ONE AREA IN YOUR LETTER THAT MUST BE A TYPO [[SO EVEN IF THE STARTER DON'T REPLACE SAY THERE GOING TO STILL CHARGE ME] ??? I WILL ASSUME YOU MEAN THAT THEY ARE GOING TO CHARGE YOU FOR A STARTER EVEN IF THEY DO NOT REPLACE IT ??? I WOULD SAY NO WAY TO THIS. THEY OR ANY REPAIR SHOP CAN NOT CHARGE YOU FOR SOMETHING THEY DID NOT PERFORM OR INSTALL. I THINK WHAT THEY MENT TO SAY IS THAT WE NEED TO REPAIR THE WIRING AND THE COST WILL BE MORE THEN REPLACING THE STARTER. HERE IN NEW YORK STATE [LAND OF TAXES] EVERYTHING IS TAXABLE,LABOR AND PARTS. YES YOU ARE CORRECT >>> THE REPAIR SHOP MUST GIVE YOU A DETAILED ITEMIZED INVOICE STATING WHAT THEY PLAN ON DOING AND WHAT KIND OF PARTS WILL BE NEEDED WITH A ESTIMATE OF SAID REPAIR. IN OUR STATE THIS IS THE LAW.. ALSO WE ARE SUPPOSE TO GET THERE SIGNATURE ON THE BILL BEFORE WE START THE REPAIR..THIS DOES NOT ALWAYS HAPPEN FOR OUR REGULARS ,BUT IF THERE IS A BIG JOB AT STAKE WE GET THERE SIGNATURE. THIS ALSO PROTECTS US...[THE SHOP]
I THINK WHAT HAPPENED ON YOUR CAR IS THEY THOUGHT THE STARTER WAS BAD BUT REALLY IT WAS THE WIRING TO THE STARTER FROM THE IGNITION SWITCH. ???? JUST A GUESS. SO I WOULD SAY GET THE WIRING TAKEN CARE OF AND THEN SEE IF IN FACT A NEW STARTER IS REALLY NEEDED. BUT I THINK I WOULD BE LOOKING FOR ANOTHER REPAIR SHOP THAT PEOPLE IN YOUR AREA TAKE THERE CARS TO THAT LIKE AND TRUST .. IF I DID NOT FULLY ANSWER YOUR QUESTION,GET BACK TO ME..GOOD LUCK TOM....

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry about the typo.

What I was saying is that they were going to charge me $200 for the starter replacement and $800 for electrical repairs.  

Now what they are saying is that the electrical problems are probably causing the starter problems so that when they fix the electrical problems the starter problem will get fixed too.  So even if they don't replace the starter they are saying they want to charge me for it because the problem will go away.  

Since there was a lot of extra labor they didn't anticipate, I don't mind paying for the labor. But I don't think I should have to pay for the whole thing (esp. parts they didn't replace) because they didn't diagnose it properly.   Do you know what I mean?

Also, this was done very informally. They had already looked at the car and while I wanted to put everything on paper (and that is legally required) I didn't voice it loud enough so they never did.  There is actually NO paperwork tying me or my car to this shop.  If they end up fixing it I just want to make sure I get all the right paperwork.

Something else I'd like to ask. Let's say they were unable to fix the car, or wanted a lot more money to fix it (or they demand that I pay for the starter replacement when they didn't replace it. There was also another part they agreed to fix as part of the whole deal, but now they're saying if they have to replace the part they will charge me for it).  If it came to the point where they didn't fix the car, or wanted more money than I said was okay, could they hold the car "hostage", so to speak? Remember there is nothing whatsoever that even indicates I gave them the car.  If that were to happen, what could I do? Could I call the police and say they won't give me my car, or would I have to sue them?  I don't think that will happen but I am concerned.  They have had the car for almost a week and I'm just getting worried.

I'm sorry if I'm not making complete sense. I didn't get any sleep at all last night because I was supposed to be able to pick up the car.  Anyhow, I'm sleep deprived. I hope everything makes sense.

Thanks SO MUCH for your fast, detailed response.

Oh, one other thing if you happen to know. How much should it cost to replace the dash wire harness?  I have lots of other questions about car repair but I don't want to take advantage, especially when my brain is only operating on partial power. :)

Answer
HI AGAIN JEFF,WELL SLEEP IS IMPORTANT. I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ANYTHING SO STRANGE SINCE I HAVE BEEN A MECHANIC.  IS THERE ANY WAY OF YOU JUST GETTING YOUR CAR BACK OR HAVING IT TOWED TO ANOTHER SHOP FOR A SECOND OPINION ??? I THINK THIS WOULD BE YOUR BEST BET. PAY FOR ONLY THE TIME THAT THEY HAVE IN IT NOW. [LABOR ONLY] AS FAR AS THEM HOLDING YOUR CAR HOSTAGE THEY COULD PUT A MECHANIC'S LIEN ON IT IF YOU DO NOT PAY FOR IT. BUT AGAIN THEY WOULD HAVE TO SHOW A INVOICE WITH YOUR SIGNATURE FOR THEM TO COMPLETE THE REPAIRS ON THIS INVOICE..NOW AS FAR AS REPLACING OR REPAIRING THE WIRING HARNESS,THIS ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT PART OF THE HARNESS IS BAD.
THIS BY ITSELF IS VERY STRANGE.. AGAIN A SECOND OPINION WOULD BE GOOD..AS FAR AS REPAIRING THIS  I WOULD THINK THIS WOULD BE THE BEST CASE.AS FAR AS THE COST ON THIS I CANT SAY BECAUSE I DONT KNOW WHAT IS BAD ON THE HARNESS.. IN ORDER TO REPLACE THIS HARNESS THIS WOULD TAKE A LONG TIME TO DO AND THE HARNESS WOULD PROBABLY BE BIG  $$$$ FROM GM.. LET ME SAY THIS TO YOU,A GOOD MECHANIC WILL BE ABLE TO TELL YOU IN 5 MINUTES IF THE STARTER IS BAD OR NOT.JUST SUPPLY 12 VOLTS TO THE STARTER .IF IT WORKS IT IS OK, IF NOT THE STARTER IS BAD..SIMPLE IS THAT. THIS SHOP IS TO WISHY WASHY FOR ME...IF THIS IS A WELL KNOWN SHOP I CAN NOT BELIEVE THEY WOULD TRY TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS TO YOU AS YOU SAID ABOVE...THIS JUST BLOWS MY MIND..PLEASE GET IT TOWED OUT OF THERE FOR YOUR PIECE OF MIND.. YOU CAN ASK ME ANYTHING YOU WANT ON YOUR CAR,, YOU ARE NOT TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF ME..GOOD LUCK TO YOU,,,TOM...

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TOM SHEETS

Expertise

PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS BEFORE ASKING ANY QUESTIONS. IF THIS CHEVY SECTION IS MAXED OUT.YOU CAN REACH ME IN THE OLDS/BUICK SECTION. Will answer questions from 6:00am to 10:00pm all days [EST][[[ NO DIESEL OR PAINT QUESTIONS]]] will answer all 1965 to present QUESTIONS ON ALL GM'S on mechanics of these cars. Keep in mind i am not there in person i am going on what you are telling me !! PLEASE IF ASKING A QUESTION GIVE ME AS MUCH INFO AS POSSIBLE. THE MORE THE BETTER. SUCH AS YEAR,MAKE,MODEL,ENGINE SIZE. THIS WILL HELP ME HELP YOU. I will not be able to answer all questions because of some situations that i would really need to be there and see things for myself,such as electrical issues. In many cases i would need wiring diagrams. I can also give you an estimate on what the cost would be at our repair shop as an idea to help you. Keep in mind that my answer is ONLY MY ADVICE,ck with your mechanic as well.. >> THANK YOU, TOM..

Experience

I have been a ASE certified master mechanic for over 30 years and certified IN ALL 8 CATEGORIES,[engine repair,engine performance,auto trans,manual trans,clutches,steering and suspension,brakes,electrical systems,heating and air/cond. I am also a state CERTIFIED inspector for over 30 years. I do computer work [pcm]fault codes,pcm flashing,state inspection monitor readiness,repairs on exhaust,fuel service,[injection and carburetor,] charging system problems, running issues,alignments,frame problems,tire balance,struts and of course standard and anti-lock brakes.

Organizations
nys state auto repair industry and ase group.

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N/A

Education/Credentials
high school,4 years of tech school,and many many hours of auto training with many gm classes and aftermarket training classes..

Awards and Honors
ASE MASTER TECH CERTIFIED IN ALL 8 CATEGORIES.NYS INSP LICENSE AND A/C CERTIFIED

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MANY CUSTOMERS IN OUR BUSY SHOP.

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