[200q20v] front axle - Resolution [long]

Gorman, Ken (PA62) ken.gorman at honeywell.com
Thu May 3 09:13:28 EDT 2001

I took Brett's advice and arrived at the shop unannounced and asked the
mechanic why the axle was bad, what made it bad, what was the state
pass/fail criteria used, etc.

I asked if he could show me the bad axle - He responded that there wasn't
anything that could be seen.

He stated that it failed inspection because it made noise during the road
test of the car.  He also indicated that another mechanic drove with him and
concurred.  He offered to road test the car with me and point out the noise.
I accepted.  He then said they had a lot of customers and he wouldn't have
time to take me out.

I indicated that the car wasn't making any noise when I brought it in and
told him I wasn't prepared to spend over $1K parts & labor for an axle that
I wasn't convinced needed replacing.  I tried to connect with him on a
personal level and asked him what he would do in a similar situation.  After
pressing him for a while and indicating that I wasn't going to spend the
money on the car, he said that if he were to pull the boot back and pack it
with grease, the noise may go away.  If the noise went away, he would allow
the car to pass inspection.  

He said he needed the car overnight and would try the grease packing today.
I made a gut call at that point and agreed to allow them to have the car
overnight.  I arrived as they opened this morning and indicated that I would
wait while they packed the axle with grease.  Since their garage had a glass
wall adjoining the waiting room that I was in, I felt pretty comfortable
that all subsequent repairs would be on the up and up.  They took my car
first, put it on the lift for about 5 minutes, and then gave a cursory road
test.  The mechanic came back and told me the noise went away and they'd now
pass my car for inspection.

Did I get screwed?  No.  It only cost me the cost of the PA State Inspection

Was I about to get screwed?  Maybe, - but...

Am I going to go there again? It depends - if the axle goes bad, perhaps the
mechanic did hear a noise of a failing axle.  If I drive trouble free for
another year without a bad axle, I'll know I was getting screwed.  

Sometimes I feel when I drop my car off for service that I get sized up on
my ability to pay a bill.  Perhaps I'm a bit paranoid, but I can imagine Joe
the mechanic thinking, "He looks like he'll pay $500 without a fuss"

Some people hear "It'll cost you about $1000" and they say "Ok - do it."
without even a question.  Perhaps I should sharpen some of my mechanical
skills.  I've tackled hoses, belts, front brakes on a UFO equipped car, and
a heater blower motor already by myself.  Maybe I'm ready for some of the
harder challenges my 200 will throw at me.  

Anyone hosting a spring timing-belt-a-thon?


Ken Gorman
91 200TQ

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