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Old 08-23-2010, 09:18 PM
 
43 posts, read 125,666 times
Reputation: 27

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Hey guys-

Man, what a tough day. I took my car in for some routine work. Included was a request to replace the ignition rotor (I tried it but failed cuz the screw was stripped). They did it among other things (replaced brake master cylinder... no other ignition work) and I picked up the car from the shop tonight. After driving it for about two minutes the car suddenly died and I couldn't get it to start. Well, it would start it just wouldn't turn. The mechanics met me up the street and we determined that the plugs weren't even giving a spark! We towed it back to the garage where they determined I needed a new distributor! Well, they said it could be several different components but it would require more labor time to figure out just what components of the distributor is the problem! So I ended up replacing the whole thing! Costed me about $330! But it did start my car! Hell, replacing the distributor was the only thing that would start it.

My question is is it purely coincidence that they replaced the rotor and then the whole thing died after running for two minutes? What's funny is that because that was the only ignition part they tweaked with they didn't bother test driving it. I wonder had they done the test drive and the car died on them, would they have paid for the part? Or would they have called and said "yeah, the distributor also died while we were test driving it so you gotta pay for that too." What do you guys think?

I also wonder if I had told them not to bother with the rotor would the car have even died? Oh man. Too many what if's... $330....

BTW, it's a 1995 Honda Civic EX. The distributor itself is 15 years old but still.... coincidence that it just left the shop?
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:22 AM
 
Location: South Jersey
7,780 posts, read 17,779,267 times
Reputation: 2290
They screwed ya.. without a doubt.
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:59 AM
 
6,368 posts, read 13,342,993 times
Reputation: 5858
They didn't test drive your car after replacing the master cylinder?
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Topeka, KS
1,560 posts, read 6,455,179 times
Reputation: 487
Short version: I would quickly run away, never return and often un-recommend the shop.

Long version: You can call back today and talk to the owner / manger and make the arguement that they failed to do their due diligence to verify the repairs they had performed were actually done correctly by not taking the car on a reasonable test drive. It may do you some good, in that they may offer a partial refund. I would, under no circumstance, take a discount for, or free services, for future work.
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,523,609 times
Reputation: 35864
If the distributor had failed at 10.1 miles, after a 10-mile test drive, would that get the shop off the hook? They tested the master cylinder by backing it out of the bay, stopping, pulling back in, stopping, and checking for leaks. It worked. They tested the rotor by starting the engine and letting it run for an unknown duration. It started and ran. The work was considered to have satisfactorily addressed the items on your work order, and the car was released to you with an invoice for work successfully performed.

It's your car. If any component fails, it's your repair. In both criminal and civil cases, the garage is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you think they are guilty of causing the failure, by design or misadventure, prove it.

Consider the possibility that a dying distributor is what made you think the rotor needed to be changed. Or the stripped threads might have made it impossible to properly install a rotor, or that it was an indicator of prior faulty distributor maintenance.

I'm no mechanical genius, but it seems to me that a distributor is nothing but a box, housing one moving part and a series of fixed contacts. If that part is moving, and properly connected, and the contact points are all in place, what's not to work? Maybe the mounts for the distributor were damaged, so it could no longer lock down in a position to assure synchronized timing---a suspicion heightened by the stripped screw.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-24-2010 at 09:18 AM..
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Southwest Pa
1,440 posts, read 3,571,218 times
Reputation: 1681
...."The distributor itself is 15 years old but still.... coincidence that it just left the shop?...."

In this case I'd say the distributor was on last legs. Sometimes replacing what you think is the bad part of an assembly only leads to the actual bad part dying a quicker death. Or, replacing one ailing piece of an ailing component system is often enough to overwork the rest of the system.

They always say to replace everything when getting into systems that use multiple parts. Don't replace one bad water hose, replace them all. Don't replace one bad brake line, replace them all. Consider it "lesson learned".
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:27 PM
 
43 posts, read 125,666 times
Reputation: 27
Today someone suggested that the brand new rotor caused a "spike" of electricity that shorted out an already aging distributor? I dunno if that's legit but that's what I've been hearing.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:15 AM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gimme3steps View Post
They didn't test drive your car after replacing the master cylinder?
Took the words right out of my mouth.

On the dist problem, my take is the shaft bushings were shot, and the removal of the rotor was harsh, which tangled up the pick up and reluctor fins to make metal to metal contact, killing it, so it was time for a new dist.

These days with that system, no one ever bothers to lube the bushings anymore, and bushings run dry for a long time are simply bound to wearout. Just because no npints and condensers are replaced, doesn't mean the dist bushings shouldn't be lubed.
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,523,609 times
Reputation: 35864
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_Muz View Post

These days with that system, no one ever bothers to lube the bushings anymore, and bushings run dry for a long time are simply bound to wearout. Just because no npints and condensers are replaced, doesn't mean the dist bushings shouldn't be lubed.

I actually had that experience. I got a tuneup on an old VW bug, and after about 500 miles, it started missing. A roadside garageman just told me that nobody had lubricated the rotor. Problem fixed, no charge. One of my countless experiences where mechanics could have ripped me off, but didn't.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:25 PM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
88, Sounds like the dist advance wights were stuck or sticking. That would leave the spark time to far advanced. The bushings are another matter where the sahft no longer spins straight, but rather does an elipse. On points type ign, that changes dwell or the time the pijts are close and then opened, which messes with everything they do, making spark late and strong or weak and too soon.

In modern hall effect ign's the little rotor fins that cause the magnetic field to break will crash into the pick up rendering both junk.

I never cheated anyone out of a cent, and never will. But I can't say I know others won't.

I saw many other techs use say 3 spark plugs on a air cooled VW, because to get at number 3 was harder to do. So if a VW was running well, only 3 plugs would go and the 4th ended up in the techs tool box. I just would never do that myself.

I was plenty fast enough to not need to do that.
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