"Experts", Or: "The epic of the failing steering pump." - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 1 Old 27-11-10 Thread Starter
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Not Happy "Experts", Or: "The epic of the failing steering pump."

Howdy, friends.

Apologies for this being my first post in yonks, but I've been living at a place with no internet. Back at uni though, so here we are.

First off, this isn't an angry "im-gonna-tell-the-internets!!11" post, but I feel it's something worth sharing with fellow Alfa enthusiasts.

I have (had) a well known and high profile parts sourcer/mechanic in the Melbourne area (down in the Colonies). They have a location in every state and pride themselves on expert knowledge of all things euro. And yes, they were actually very good for a time.

I've had a few services done there before, and when my poor old selespeed gave out and broke it's pins last year, they offered me a reco gearbox and installation (with warranty) for 1500 AUD. Given other places quoted me 4 grand , I was stoked and it continues to shift gears fine with the new box.

Job well done and I sung their praises to anyone who had the misfortune to listen.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Turn on my baby and the sound from my wheel was ungodly and neighbor-waking. Hopping out, I noticed the problem - a pool of steering fluid trickling down my front wheel... Oh dear, I thought. It's either the pump or the rack has gone.

I had her towed back to these guys, and spoke to the parts manager I'd dealt with before on the phone. He said they'd have a look and get back to me. I waited anxiously for 3 days before calling them to see if they'd had a chance to look it over.
I was told "yep, power steering pump; we replaced it - $650 inc labour".

It wasn't really a surprise cost-wise (although as a student, it was quite a burden for my girlfriend and I) but I hit the roof that they'd done the repair without consulting me first, as you all would.

Nonetheless, I needed my car back so I grudgingly paid the money and demanded to speak to my guy. He was interstate, and had been all week.

Driving away to find the closest pub to drown my sorrows for a bit, I noticed my revs were rather high - about 1500 at idle and the steering felt very shaky. I thought, oh well, maybe the pump is just settling in.

Later that night, the droning from the steering got worse and worse before *snap* leaking fluid, same problem as before. Dead pump.

I went ballistic. I raged for hours while my poor girlfriend pretended that she was okay with me owning a euro and these things happen bla bla.

The next morning I carefully drove it back to the workshop - damn any collateral damage; if anything was damaged by the trip, I was resolved to make these idiots pay for it.

I pulled the mechanic out to the drive and turned it on while he hummed and mumbled about having it running for an hour and a half to make sure it was fine... uhuh.

They hoisted her up and checked underneath - there was a leak in the coil, hidden next to the gearbox. Even with a new pump, the leak was the underlying cause of both failures.

I was absolutely enraged and demanded to know why it wasn't checked properly. The mechanic started to claim that they had thoroughly checked it and that somehow it had spontaneously broken in the few hours since returning the car, and that it was a freak coincidence.

Dumbfounded, I asked him to repeat what he just said, while I contemplated wrapping a nearby spanner across his head. He wisely did not, and said they'd get to work right away - "No charge." No charge indeed? This was a joke, how did a place that prided themselves on no nonsense euro repairs pull off this farce?

I returned that afternoon and sat the workshop manager down. I calmly explained that I had paid thousands at this place because I expected them to be experts at what they do with no BS and up to now, I'd been very happy.

But gee whiz, I said, first you work on my car without any permission, no quotation given and charge me nearly $400 for labour. I drive it and my steering fails. What the christening hell happened? Did they even take it for a test drive?

He was most annoyed that his men had done a repair without authority, but after 15 minutes of me trying to keep my temper, he gave me my labour back.

Anyway, apologies for the rant - this happened a few months back and it still smarts. It just infuriates me that even a place that does repairs on alfas every day, can swap a transmission in a few hours and offer seemingly A1 service can be just as lousy as a backyard chop shop.

Compare it to another case; I'm noticing my car is driving like a tractor. I pull into a local workshop run by some blokes from Dubai. Apparently they'd been in the trade for some 20 years and the head mechanic Kapila, used to be employed by the motor pool for the Sheiks (yeah yeah, I was jaded by mechanics at this point and prepared myself for a long wait and hefty invoice).

Right then and there on the spot they pop the hood, hoist her up, check all the air line, rip off the rocker-cover, test each spark plug and what do you know - one of them wasn't firing because it was waterlogged. They dried it off, worked like a dream and my car was again running fine. They said it might need new plugs and an ECU reset, so make an appointment whenever.

An hour's work while I watched, problem solved and $90.


What peed me off most was having the stereotype of the dodgy mechanic proved right. Imagine I were an old lady who would just cop it on the chin. But it's great when you find the exact opposite of that.

Phew, this has been therapeutic. I feel much better now.

I'm hoping to be around a lot more now I have the Internet, and I promise to keep the raging diatribes of hate to a minimum!

Enjoy the weekend!
Dreska is offline  

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156 , australia , dodgy , experts , steeringpump

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