A few days ago I put my 2L GTV in for an MOT. I used a nationally advertised place - you cant get better - nuff said. (legal action pending so I cant name names)
Anyway, the car needed a lower drivers side wishbone and bushes, a tyre and a license plate bulb. 280 quid. OK. I told them to do the work.
I was informed on the phone that they couldn't get the part they needed so it was a day late coming back. About 4.30 the next day I collected the MOT and paid the man. He told me he had added brake fluid to the invoice, as "some had come out" when they changed the wishbone. He had generously not billed me for this extra service. Although it did appear on the invoice (which could be fortunate)
When I drove off, i noticed the handbrake light and the ABS warning light were illuminated and didnt go out. By this time I was in traffic and heading for home, so I drove up the road a bit, brakes work. Its getting late so I call them up and let them know. They told me to bring the car back tomorrow.
When I got home, I noticed the electric windows didnt work. About 9 0 clock I decided to drive round to a friends house. I got in the car and discovered the headlights didnt work either.
Next day I return to the fitters and suggest that maybe the brake sensor had not been fitted correctly, maybe a loose wire had shorted out on the bodywork and blown the fuses for the window and lights.
The tripometer had also reset to zero, indicating that the battery had been disconnected, although he denied that had happened. I diplomatically suggested that maybe somebody had disconnected the battery and then removed a few fuses when the immobiliser lights came on, because there is no remote (I suggested that if this was the case, not to worry about it, I'd track down the remote and anyway, the flashing usually stops after a while. The immobiliser has been deactivated) Again, he denied this had happened or that the battery had been disconnected.
They say they'll take a look at the vehicle.
Although I dropped the car off at 8.30 AM (and assumed they'd look into it then) I didn't hear from them all day, until I eventually call at 4.30. They said they had taken a good look and couldn't find anything wrong with the car, apart from the fact that the lights and windows don't work. They say they were working when it passed the MOT and they were working when the mechanic drove it out onto the forecourt for collection. No mention of the brake warning lights - sorry - nothing to do with them.
Now before I took it for the MOT, the lights and the windows were working. And the ABS and handbrake lights did not illuminate while the engine was running.
I told the mechanic on the phone that I was not happy about this as everything had worked fine when I took it in and now my car (which I intended to sell with a years ticket) is now undriveable and unsaleable ("yeah dont worry about those brake warning lights, or the headlights, or the electric windows mate...") He politely advised me to obtain an independant report and if the problem could be traced back to them they would reimburse me and make good the problems.
I said I would collect the car tomorrow and obtain an independant report.
Fortunately I spoke to Trading Standards first, who advised me to send a template letter from their website, recorded delivery, to the branch where the work was done. I have to write my account of events on the template letter and request, in writing, their consent for the report. Apparantly, if you do not do this first, any independant report (which could cost hundreds) can be rendered inadmissible by their lawyers.
I didnt know that.
They also suggested, as the car had been MOT'd by them on that day, that I might contact VOSA, bringing into question the competence or reliability of their MOT staff. Ouch!
So there you are: a cautionary tale, some hard-earned advice about independant reports. And a couple of questions:
1: The guy has obviously pulled on something a bit vigorously and either damaged the braking system or more likely disconnected the sensor or broken the wire somewhere out of easy reach. I dont know if the brake fluid is a clue. Has he done something to the brakes to cause the warning lights to come on? As for the windows and headlights - I've had the car for three years and in all that time its never blown a single fuse. Has anybody got any idea as to what this gentleman may have done to my car and how to fix it?
2: How much will an independant report cost and can anybody recommend a good cheap (alfa-experienced) auto electrician who knows their way around a GTV in the Reading area? How much do these people charge?
Thanks for reading my tale of woe and if you can give any advice as to the possible causes, scope and nature of the damage these monkeys have done to my GTV, I will rain blessings down upon you and be very grateful.
ps watch this space for updates