Just trying trying to wrap my brain around this one...

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by NoThrowningRocks, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. NoThrowningRocks

    NoThrowningRocks Junior Member

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    RE-WRITTEN INITIAL POST

    Just trying to wrap my brain around this... Understanding things from a mechanic's perspective or those who were in similar situations will be a big help!

    Thoughts on one or more questions much appreciated
    :
    1. What would you do if you were in my situation? ["I'd shoot myself," my brother's response, already given, thanks anyway!]
    a. Dispute the transaction with my bank (used debit card) since he overcharged me on labor (but be prepared for mechanics lien)
    b. Take him to small claims court
    c. Other

    2. What does Motor (or any mechanic labor guide) estimate the hours required for engine replacement? It appears 12-16 hours is a reasonable estimate based largely on what I found in these forums. Meanwhile, the mechanic claims Motor says 35 hours, which I'd like to verify.

    3. Is it normal for the key FOB to stop working (lock/unlock buttons do work, but must insert FOB into dash to start car) after an engine replacement? This happened, without explanation, when I got the car back. Is this permanent or can it be reset. If so, how?

    4. I asked if mechanic checked level of carbon build-up on pistons (believe indicates how well engine was maintained; I have no idea how difficult this is check) and he said "no." Said supplier uses "standard" compression test on engines. Asked for mileage and he said 70,000. Asked how long was engine sitting and he had no idea. This makes me a little nervous based on what I've learned about engines. Mechanic gave only a 6-month warranty on engine. How can I check the health of the engine? Does someone have a Techstream template I can use for a "live test?" (not sure that even makes sense)

    5. How serious is having a mechanics lien filed against you?

    For some background on my completed engine replacement, here's a partial transcript of the phone call with the mechanic (also shop owner):

    ME: Is it about 10 hours labor to take the engine out and put a new one back in? Or..

    MECHANIC: You're looking probably like 15 or so, it's a pretty big deal, you know. You do other stuff while you have the engine out... [unintelligible] If you're gonna do something that big, you want to do it right...


    ME: What's the rate on labor?

    MECHANIC: Labor is $95 an hour.

    ME: So $1,500?

    MECHANIC: Yeah you're probably $1,500 just in labor...

    ME: Yeah...

    MECHANIC: Plus engine, whatever that would cost...

    ME: Right.

    MECHANIC: You know, I'm thinking probably... You're probably looking at about three grand so you're at about $4,500.

    So the estimate, with what I knew was well-above market price for an engine, was $4,500. The mechanic said the labor and engine would come with a warranty. The mechanic found an engine with 70k miles cheaper than he expected and charged $1,200 for it.

    However, the mechanic then inflated his labor hour estimate to 35 hours ($3,325) to reach his original $4,500 estimate. He didn't quote me $4,500 (in fact, his final bill was higher than that amount). His reason for the increase is his shop uses book hours (Motor @ 35 hrs) not actual hours. I understand using "book hours" is an industry-wide practice. But for all I knew, the 15 hours he mentioned @ $95/hr for $1,500 was using book hours! It seems to me we agreed on labor cost and the engine price was the only unknown.

    The mechanic also denied several times we ever discussed 15 hours or "probably $1,500 just in labor" until I provided him with the recording of our conversation. This makes the unexpected, substantial change in labor hours seem even more suspicious.

    In hindsight, a firm quote in writing - along with a copy of the warranty, which he's refused to provide - would've avoided these issues. I've offered to compromise at 25 hours labor and he's refused. The warranty is only six months for the engine and 12 months on labor and I have no idea what's covered.

    I'm looking for advice on how to move forward on this in a positive, constructive and fair way.
    Thanks!

    ________________________
    p.s., For those who are familiar with how I got to this point: Yes, I'm checking the oil level every two weeks, not every 5,000 miles, pay very careful attention to any warning light indicators, and got Techstream set up and running!!
     
    #1 NoThrowningRocks, Aug 22, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Yeah firm quote in writing sounds good, in hindsight. Talk to a lawyer, or that's just too expensive?
     
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  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    maybe start with toyota dealership book hours, just to make sure he isn't inflating it. at 95 bucks, he should be much cheaper. is the thing running?
     
  4. NoThrowningRocks

    NoThrowningRocks Junior Member

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    Hey, thanks for the quick response. There's a legal distinction between an estimate and a quote: An estimate is a rough guess given available information (e.g., he didn't know engine price) and agreement on a quote viewed as a binding agreement (can't charge more/less without other parties consent). On the receipt (only thing we have written) he indicates price as an estimate. He also charged more than that amount, so that undermines his argument it was a firm quote (so doesn't matter if he got engine for $1 and charged 50 hrs labor, the price is unchanged).

    The recording proves the mechanic was untruthful about our agreement of 15 hours, which hurts his credibility. In email, he wrote, "We use MOTOR labor guide and charged 35 hours which is exactly what was estimated. I dont know if i misspoke verbally when discussing your engine or you misheard but the labor time is correct and is what you and i agreed to."

    Final nail in the coffin for him will be if he just made up the number of Motor labor hours, which I can't find online. I've seen one example where Motor labor hour estimates were almost twice those of Chilton, Mitchell, etc.
     
  5. mpg_numbers_guy

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    Maybe go somewhere else if you don't like the price. Or do it yourself. Does sound unnecessarily expensive. Most warranties are also scams just to defraud you of more money for an emotional peace of mind. The less you DIY, the more things cost.
     
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  6. NoThrowningRocks

    NoThrowningRocks Junior Member

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    I've been searching online for the Motor engine replacement labor hour estimate, but Toyota dealership book hours makes a lot of sense and I may have more luck.

    Yes, it's running. I'm working on a separate post where I show the before/after Techstream results because there are a lot of new error codes and I don't know which may be related (or completely unrelated, maybe coincidental) to the work completed.

    Thanks for your reply!
     
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  7. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    My mechanic charged me $500 to put in a transaxle, which is slightly harder than putting in an engine. But that's a pretty cheap price. $750 maybe the rate a normal non hybrid mechanic would charge
     
  8. NoThrowningRocks

    NoThrowningRocks Junior Member

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    @JC91006 Thanks for the reference point, much appreciated. I'd think mechanic prices would be higher in Los Angeles than Atlanta!

    I was okay with the $1,500 and about $1,200 as final price for the engine, but jacking up the hours after we explicitly agreed on the labor cost, THEN claiming 35 hours is what we agreed to all along, is what really set me off.

    "We use MOTOR labor guide and charged 35 hours which is exactly what was estimated. I dont know if i misspoke verbally when discussing your engine or you misheard but the labor time is correct and is what you and i agreed to."

    Thank God I recorded our conversation (Georgia's a "single party consent" state, so legal and admissible in Court).
     
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  9. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    It's really not a good idea to use this mechanic, even with a recorded conversation. He may have underestimated the complexity behind this job and he probably can't do it. So he increases the price hoping you go elsewhere or you agree and he outsources the job to some other mechanic. But ultimately, it sounds like he doesn't want this business.
     
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  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Just to clarify: is this job done, or upcoming?
     
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  11. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    From his other thread it seems like he already had the job done. And it didn’t turn out well.
     
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  12. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    My sort of sinking feeling started with the words "his final bill" in the OP.
     
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  13. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    Oh no. You look at the codes in his other thread and it’s not good
     
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  14. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    Well if this work is already completed at $4500, that would be enough to put in a gently used LS1 corvette engine in there.

    If you haven't paid him yet, maybe you should just forget about that car and let him keep it. Use the $4500 and buy another one.
     
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  15. NoThrowningRocks

    NoThrowningRocks Junior Member

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    My initial post is horribly written - sorry about that... Yes, the mechanic completed the job, the car works (although there are a few issues I'm trying to sort through), and he's overcharging me on labor (since the engine price was lower than he expected).

    @JC91006 Unfortunately, I already paid him. However, I did so with a debit card and can dispute the charges (overbilled me on labor charges). If he files a mechanics lien then he can just have the thing!

    @ChapmanF Nice catch. Appreciate your careful reading of my post. I rewrote the intro for clarity.

    @Skibob OMG. I'm dreading going to my other thread. Does it make any sense Techstream gave same three codes consistently before giving it to the shop and right after getting it back I'm at 13? Is it possible mechanic screwed something up, didn't plug something in, etc. that explains it or just coincidence? Now I'm fearing the worst after he tried to claim we always were in agreement on number of labor hours and when I asked him hours when picked up he said, "took full 15" (wife heard same thing) then he misspoke or I misheard. I sent him the audio from our call that confirms the transcript and he still isn't budging.

    @Mendel Leisk Thanks for helping me finally "get a clue" I needed to be more clear in my post.
     
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  16. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i had good luck disputing the $1,000. on my chase credit card charge to tune up my home generator. all the best!(y)
     
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  17. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    You have a home generator? What fuel does it use?
     
  18. JC91006

    JC91006 Senior Member

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    You may find out it'll be very difficult to dispute a debit card charge, it's not the same as a credit card and doesn't have the same protections.
     
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  19. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    My brother has at his house in Stamford an oversized generator (one that will keep the power on for the whole house):).

    I guess there was a storm to end all storms there about a decade or so back and the owners at the time lost power for a good bit of time:(.

    After that event, they bought the biggest generator Honda makes for a residence :LOL:.

    Apparently the power is unreliable there:cool:.

    Must be a New England above ground power line thing(y).
     
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  20. Skibob

    Skibob Senior Member

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    I live in California in the country. I can tell you the power is just as unreliable here. With PG&E I’m just about a 3rd world country now.
     
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