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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

My 2.0 super has just been at the Fiat/Alfa dealer for 2 days to fix a rattling noise from the engine area. Their opinion was the variator needed replacing, and they did the timing belt and tensioners at the same time. Fine...except I start the car from cold this morning and the rattle is still there!!!! :mad: :mad: :mad:

Another garage which did some diagnostics, but couldn't fix due to lack of Alfa tools, said they thought it was the auxilliary drive belt tensioner rattling. I asked the Alfa dealer to check this, but it seems they may not have done. When I wrote out my £380 cheque they assured me the noise had completely gone.

What's the legal position here - anyone know. Basically they've fixed something that ain't broke, and charged me a wedge of cash for the privilege eek! eek! Can I refuse to pay or something? Any similar experiences?

cheers,
BW
 

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First off, if you're sure that they haven't done what they said they had, stop the cheque. It's not really the right way to do it, but at least it'll get them moving. Obviously you intend to pay in full when the work is done correctly. The bank will advise you on the legalitites of cancelling the cheque.

Secondly, always pay for stuff like this on your credit card, as you'll be covered by the credit company, as in effect, the CC company 'owns' the work thats been done.

Hope you get it sorted!
 

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This is so typical of some main dealers, not just Alfa either. Personally I would always use an Alfa specialist since they usually own Alfa's and have a passion for them. The labour rates are also a lot less than a main dealer.
I agree with Richward on the benefits of using a credit card. If you spend more than £100 in one transaction you are then protected by the Consumer Credit Act which allows you to take action against the credit card issuer if you fail with the supplier. This is not the case with debit or charge cards which are not credit transactions. A credit card transaction is unaffected even if you pay the bill in full at the end of the month. If you want cheaper credit get a bank overdraft and pay off your card from that and service repayments on the overdraft, should be 5%+ saving at least dependant on your circumstances.

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Cheers for the advice guys. Have talked to the garage and they maintain the noise they heard was coming from the variator - they are spinning me some tale about draining oil from some hydraulic tappet things (bucket?) as part of the variator job and say the clattering should fade in a few days as oil creeps back in to those.

Is this true - are tappets a bit noisy after variator and belt replacement? As far as I can tell all I'm getting is the same noise as before, which fades away as the engine warms up (which is why I asked them to check the drive-belt tensioner - if it's oil fed, the noise will presumably fade as the oil gets up to temp?).

The dealer say they looked at this auxilliary drive belt tensioner during the job and found nothing wrong with it. Problem is I don't know enough about mechanics to really argue with them, so I just feel like I'm being ripped off :mad:

Their advice - drive it over the weekend and see if the noise fades away. If not, it goes back and they get their collective asses kicked by yours truly :D

Stress!!!
 
G

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They probably think they're being reasonable but I bet they hope you just give up.

If you bring the car to them and say "fix that noise" then their bill should cover it. Clearly, if it's still noisy then they have not carried out all the work you asked, so you don't have to pay them.

On the other hand, they might say the Cam variator was making some noise (even if not all of it) so changing it is within the scope of your instructions.

If something else also needs to be fixed then they'll probably charge you extra for that bit, as their bill only covers the work they detailed. "Fixing the noise" could be a bottomless pit in terms of bits they change in order to accomplish it.

Your best bet is to recover the duff parts (which have probably disappeared by now) so that you can check them to see if they were knackered or not. I would always want any major components handed back to me, for this reason.

Chances are though, they will show some wear so the dealer could be justified in changing them as part of his instructions.

I'd say if the noise doesn't clear up you should bring it back and get them to change the belt jobbie too. They may charge you for the parts but I wouldn't want to pay labour if they could/should have done it at the same time as all the other work.

Ralf S.
 
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Agree totally with Ralf!!!

Had the same sort of thing with my dealer years ago. Went in with a problem, but I didnt tell them exactly what was wrong, so when they didnt fix it first time they didnt charge me for susequent work as they hadn't cured the problem.

Give it a few days and go back monday :D

wrinx
 

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Oh, and I reckon tappet buckets should take about er, half a second after you start the engine to fill up!
 
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BW,

I'd just take it in and refuse to accept it back until it is fixed, actually get the manager involved from the offset explain what you expect and demand you speak to a mechanic who you then want to fix the car, so you are not going through about 3 people first.

Hope it comes back right and don't use main dealer again their incompetent and charge as much as a Ferrari specialist, it really does defy belief the mess Alfa UK have ended up in....

M.
 
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bw,
If the noise subsudes after a couple of seconds it is your tappets and nothing to worry about. My 16V is a little noisy at cold start-up since the oil has drained out of the tappets and settled in the sump due to gravity. The oil - due to its thickness when cold - takes a couple of seconds to reach the tappets and stop that nocking noise. If this noise persists after the oil has reached working temperature I would definetly check out the state of the tappets!
By the way, if the noise is not a ticking you might want to consider a noisy water pump and/or counter-rotating balancer shaft bearings.

T.
 

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My 155 sounded awful after changing the cam and variator due to the buckets draining. However, it suddenly disappeared after a few mins and never returned. They do sound rattly when they start up as the oil pumps to the top of the engine and as winter comes, it will take longer for this to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cheers guys - thanks for the comments.

The noise is still there this morning. It usually fades out after about 5 minutes driving. It's not really a ticking noise - more of a rattly/clattering noise.

I think I'll stop the cheque today :D I imagine it'd be very difficult to get any money back out of the garage once it's cleared.

I don't know why these main dealers are like they are really. More interested in selling nice new cars than fixing the old ones I suppose. My mum bought her last car there, a Fiat punto, and usually has any work done there - but not any more, they just lost her business too. I think it's crazy that these guys are supposed to be the specialists :confused:

Problem is I don't know any other place I can take it really. There's a place called AC Trofeo in the north of Nottingham, but for big jobs I will need a loan car, which I don't think they have. I really should do more stuff myself, but that could be disastrous wink
 
G

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BW,

Sorry mate didn't know you were in Nottingham, We had a guy on here who worked for a main dealer (Desira) and was very helpful he stopped coming on as he couldn't help taking the flak personally from members directed at main dealers!

He has helped loads of us out, his tag here was Numan Racing. If you PM Alfa Owner (Ian) I'm sure he could let you have his contact details and so you would have a true master to work on your car for you. I know he does work out of main dealer hours! I just wish I lived in Nottingham so he could look after mine! :D

Hope this helps!

Regards

MAK
 

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Just had variator, cam and balancer shaft belts changed. As with the others hydraulic pump up only took a few seconds even with Mobil 1.
WAD Auto come recomended, they are a non-franchised Alfa specialist and do SZ & RZ models so of course I like the sound of them. Being way down in the south I don't know if you are near Wolverhampton because thats where they are.
Don't give up on the duff dealer and good luck.

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just resurrecting this one to add to the tale of woe! Took my car into the dealer again last night so they can start it from stone-cold this morning. They just called and guess what, they found a worn out tensioner on the drive belt - erm, isn't that what I asked them to check right at the start???!!! I think it might be! (I even gave them the job sheet from the Saab-Subaru guys who first looked at it and said it was this).

Now they are saying that the original noise was the variator and that this 'new' noise (which sounds exactly the same) is actually a fresh problem that appeared the day after they gave me the car back!!!!!!! :confused: :confused: :confused: They want me to pay for job 1(variator and timing belt) in full and just for the parts on job 2 (drive belt tensioner) :mad: :mad: :mad: I'm thinking this should be the other way around!

What would you guys do - hold out for more discount on job 1?
 

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Bit of a tricky one really - it's obvious to us that the second job is the one that really needed doing. Personally I would be very reluctant to pay for the first job - btw, did you stop the cheque? If you stopped it, I would pay for the second job and write to Fiat UK about the first, including a copy of the Saab report and copies of invoices for both jobs and maybe even reference to the (dated) posts on this site. You have proof that the second job done was most likely the one that needed doing in the first place. What are the chances of the Saab dealers being Psychic and being able to predict what may go wrong the day after you pick your car up from the Alfa dealers? Either that or there's an amazing coincidence!!

I can't believe the way that some dealers (not just Alfa, I know of Vauxhall ones the same) just replace things in a list order until it's fixed, and charge you for all jobs, when only the last one needed doing!

It make you wonder whether you should ask before any work is done to ask for all parts replaced to be returned to you so that you can take them for independant review. Do you think they would think twice about what they replaced then?

Also, it would be interesting to find out where we stand legally on setting up a name and shame website. Thing is, the poor souls who still go to said dealers might get ripped off even more to make up for lost earnings!

However, back to the point - I'd seriously argue the point on paying the full whack, and get Alfa / Fiat UK involved too. It'll probably come to a goodwill gesture (i.e., they know they're wrong but are trying to look like the good guys), but even if you get the second job + parts free, you can rest easy that you've had all new belts / tensoners / variator at less than usual cost.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Fortunately, I did stop the cheque for the first job. I like the idea of agreeing to pay for job 2, and then contacting the Fiat/Alfa bods in charge of the dealer franchise stuff about a reduced payment on job 1 and take it from there. Only problem might be - will they release my car without full payment? On the other hand, can they actually stop me from driving it away with my spare set of keys anyway...better remember to take them with me :D

I aksed them today if they still have the variator to prove it was making a noise....naturally they have thrown it out.

Or, perhaps after all the dealer is genuine, and the Saab mechanics really are psychic wink

I had shied away from naming the garage, but I do like the idea of a central name and shame system to keep these pesky main dealers on their toes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, I have to say, a satisfactory conclusion to this has been reached. Went to collect my properly repaired car (I think!) this lunchtime and to have a 'discussion' about how much money I should give them.

After some deliberation, threats of contacting Fiat UK and trading standards they backed down - they didn't charge labour on the second job and then halved the total. All in I payed just over £200 for what would normally have been nearly £500 worth of stuff.

The fact they had discarded the old variator sort of went in my favour, because that meant they couldn't prove it was faulty or worn out (I really don't think it was) - not that producing a worn out part necessarily proves anything anyway realistically - for all I know they could keep a stash of broken stuff for such eventualities wink

Still, I am pleased with the way they came around in the end, although it was an uphill struggle. I outlined my points on paper, which I think helped because it mean't I could get all my points across without too much stress. Plus I can rest assured that my timing belt and variator are sparkly and new, and cost about 1/3 what they should have :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
eeeerrrrmmmm.....nope. They'd probably spend the next year making up little jobs to get their £300 back eek!

Think I'll avoid them in the future. They have also lost my mum as a customer - she bought her last 2 cars there but she won't even be buying replacement bulbs from them from now on :D

Thanks for all the comments/advice by the way dudes.
 
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