YABS: Yet Another Bad Shop
Today I received a text message from a local mechanic/auto shop asking me to leave them a Google review. It was an automated message from a shop that I know well and have used many times in the past. Unfortunately, I have had several poor experiences (at the time they seemed horrific) with them in the past year and I can honestly say they'll never receive my business again. Now I could have used this as an opportunity to leave them an anonymous nasty-gram but instead I'm going to do the opposite. I'm going to write about everything I don't like about them without telling you who they are or hiding who I am. Why would I do that? Well for one, they were an excellent shop for many years. I believe a recent change in management is to blame and I'm not going to ruin their chances of making a comeback (because frankly I would like for them to rebound). And secondly, I don't believe in hiding. This page and its author are public knowledge. Now, in no particular order: a sample of awful work from yet another bad shop.
Mom's Truck -- Balls Out
Mom's truck is a 2007 Chrysler Aspen that she loves very much. Dad does a whole lot of work on it himself (the both of us do pretty much everything we can in-house so long as we have the right equipment). We've been taking her truck into this shop for years because we've found them to be reliable, efficient, and economical. As I said before, at some point in their recent history they changed hands -- either ownership or management, I can't remember which. It was around this time that Dad decided to overhaul Mom's front suspension. He replaced the ball joints, tie rod ends, and a few other worn out parts. He then did his own best-guess front-end alignment, but left everything loose so that YABS could finish up the alignment and tighten everything. Now read that again because it's important. Dad did his own alignment in our driveway (as a cost-saving measure), got it decently close, but then instructed this shop to finish the job and tighten everything up.
Now here's where things fall apart. This shop full of professional mechanics took one look at the alignment Dad did and decided it was good enough. Hooray for Dad and supernatural mechanical skills, but the shop didn't even touch the car. They called Dad back to come pick up the car, telling him it was already good to go. They never tightened a thing, even after Dad explicitly told them everything was loose and needed to be tightened but they didn't to touch a thing. So what happened? Dad picked up the car assuming everything was A-OK and Mom drove the car for about a week before the two front tires wore down so badly they had to be replaced immediately. Everything fell out of alignment as things loosened further and further and the tires wore unevenly until they ripped themselves to shreds. The worst part? These weren't tires with 6+ years on them. These were brand new tires. So YABS got to install two more front tires and then tighten everything. They did not cover the costs, presumably because it was Dad who had done the alignment. Strike one.
Friend's Minivan -- Crude Necessities
A good friend of ours drives a 2005-2006 Chrysler Town and Country. It was actually Mom's car before upgrading to the Aspen (the minivan was perfect in every way but it couldn't tow). Our friend has been using YABS for just a long as we have. Once again, things started getting kinda strange after several years of good service. She started getting charged extra for simple repairs she had them doing very consistently. They also started tacking on extra items for routine jobs. She would go in for an inspection and they would claim she needed a new Part X. Now this in and of itself isn't an uncommon or even strange request to make. As cars age they need things and sometimes you don't know what they need until you visit a professional mechanic. They remember the things you forget about.
One day they did all the forgetting, and they forgot a pretty important, nay, crucial engine component: motor oil. Our friend took her minivan into YABS for a routine oil change. Good diligence on her part. And she's not the type to do that change on her own. She's too old to get under a car anyway (no offense!). So she took the van to YABS and they did a job they've done thousands of times: drain oil, replaced the filter, and gave her back the car. Easy peasy right? Now I know I'm not a professional but I'm thinking someone might have wanted to double-check that several quarts of synthetic had left the shop shelf and gone into the car they just backed out of the bay door. Now this part of the story I'm a little fuzzy on so take it with a large, heaping grain of salt, but I can say for a fact that they failed to completely refill the engine oil before returning her car. Supposedly there was enough in there such that the minivan survived long enough for them to realize it before she drove off.
Monty, My 2013 Ford Focus -- Nut Allergy
I decided to give YABS another try after a long leave of absence. I needed new tires all around for my daily driver. I also needed an inspection and an alignment. A simple set of tasks for any shop (you see where this is going). I initially tried to go to another local shop but they were all out of the tires I was looking to get so I caved and went to YABS. About halfway through the job they gave me a call and told me they had some bad news. They said that there were some issues getting the lug nuts off my wheels and that they had all been stripped, warped, or otherwise destroyed in the process. They told me the only fix was to get new ones from a supplier in town for about $160. Keep in mind the entire job (inspection, tires, etc.) was going to cost $650. Furthermore, dad and I had no problem getting those lug nuts off and back on again just a few weeks prior when we changed the transmission fluid.
They didn't have an explanation that I could reconcile with. Joe Schmo over the phone told me this is typical of Fords and Chryslers these days and that they'd like to keep my lug nuts for a class action lawsuit they're participating in. Now why on Earth would any sane mechanic, with full knowledge they are dealing with a defective set of lug nuts, take a high power impact wrench to those wheels without speaking with the owner about it first? Smelled fishy to me honestly. But what was I gonna do? Dad went out and grabbed twenty new lug nuts for cheaper than they wanted to sell them for.
Oh the tires were Cooper GTs by the way and they're amazing. They're smooth and quiet and came with a very nice warranty. They're also made in the USA, which is very important to me. 10/10 would recommend.
Ol' Blue -- Tunnel Vision
This was the real kicker. And this one doesn't really have any trailing narrative. I got four new tires on Ol' Blue, my 1953 Hudson Hornet. They were delivered to our house: four brand new Diamond Back wide white wall radials. Super nice tires, with a super nice road hazard warranty (as a side note I totally recommend you check out Diamond Back's website if you're looking for white wall radials). So we brought the car to YABS with the new tires and asked them to mount them on the car.
When we went to pick up the car everything looked great and I drove off. I made it all the way to the Monitor Merrimack Memorial Bridge Tunnel before I heard a loud rattling and a bang. I looked in the rear-view mirror and swore I could see my precious hubcap rolling off to eternity. When they replaced the hubcaps they didn't fully press one of them on. And it's not that difficult. These hub caps are very secure when pressed on the rim, we've never had problems with them. Oh and we're talking about Hudson hubcaps that came with the car, and aren't super easy to find. And I couldn't stop to get out and grab it because I was right at the mouth of the tunnel. We went back later to try and see it but we couldn't. And it was probably destroyed getting thrown from the car anyways.
The worst part is, the hubcap took a chunk out of my white wall on its way out from under the wheel skirt. So the day I got the tires I had to take a picture and redeem my road hazard warranty. Luckily, Diamond Back were true to their word and sent me a new one no questions asked. The beat up tire is now my spare.
Not All Bad
Like I said before, YABS used to be a very nice shop with friendly people that did good work. And they didn't charge exorbitant prices for their work. Times have changed, and I believe management has as well. I've stopped visiting their shop completely. I found a new one that I trust and will be taking all of my cars to. They've already done a safety inspection on Ol' Blue and didn't put up a fuss. They're clean and friendly and don't seem to be out to screw me. But as with everything else, your mileage may vary.