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Car trouble and honest mechanics

So the car was misfiring on one cylinder and it’d done 100,000km+ so I thought it was time for a good solid service. And obviously that means a citroen garage where they’re used to seeing citroen cars coming in and doing this sort of thing, thinks me, and goes into Gowan Motors with my little car.

Some of you are already facepalming. Wait for it, it gets better.

A few hours later, the nice lady calls me at work to tell me that *everything* on my car (an 05 model that passed the NCT with flying colours on the first pass five months ago) was broken and needed to be replaced, they had no parts in stock and would have to order them in specially, and that they’d like €2,000 please.

Well that was nice, I’d like €2,000 myself. So I said thank you very much, came in and collected my car, paid the €50 or so for the inspection and then the €50 or so for the 6 hours of hiring a car while they inspected mine and left.

And called Myles Reilly, my local mechanic (22 Croke Park Industrial Estate, 087 242 7785) who said he’d be happy to give it a second opinion. By now the engine warning light was on and I was a tad worried, so he said to call by the night before I left the car in to be serviced with him, and he plugged the diagnostic computer into the car and sure enough, cylinder #4 is misfiring, but everything else is grand and so I drive away, reassured that my car isn’t about to die on me.

The next evening I drop it in and a day or so later I get a phone call. Did they say they ran an emissions test on this? And it failed? Really? Hm. That’s odd. I replaced the coil pack and when the engine wasn’t misfiring, ran an emissions test and it’s perfect. The cat’s fine, the battery’s fine, the lambda sensor is fine, it’s all grand.

Which was interesting to hear since I get that garages will ‘encourage’ you to replace parts based on manufacturer’s estimates rather than the condition of the parts, that’s fair game. But saying that you failed an emissions test when another mechanic says you’re perfect but you couldn’t test the car until the misfire was corrected so you didn’t spray raw fuel into the emissions test…. well, that’s downright dirty tricks lads, right there. That’s not really on.

And then I checked the estimates and prices and such. I realise there’s a markup because people don’t keep stuff in stock for nothing, that’s fine. But 52% over retail is a tad much, I think Mr. Gowan.

And I’m no professional qualified mechanic, but I can change my battery in under ten minutes, so why would a professional need to estimate half an hour for that in a fully equipped garage with all the tools and equipment?

Oh, and if you’re going to charge me €50 to inspect the car, it’d be nice if you spotted that the rear brake light wasn’t working on one side because the bulb was gone.

And I’m not sure you can put “replace” pollen filter on an estimate when there’s none in the car to start with – that’s really “install” pollen filter, isn’t it?

Yeah, I’m not ever giving any business to Gowan Motors ever again.


  1. I spun on black ice a few years ago, and smushed up (technical term) a corner of the car. Pretty much everything related to the front-right wheel (panels, suspension, steering rack, wishbone, the lot) was damaged. A Nissan garage quoted well over €4k to fix it, which was more than the car was worth and would have meant writing it off. They even included entirely replacing the driver’s door which was only scraped and dented lightly. My local mechanics did the entire job for about €1600, which included all parts, panels, un-beating the driver door and respraying everything concerned. We’ve done about 70000km in it since, so I think it’s okay.

  2. This sounds exactly like my experience in Sweden, but my car was a Volvo. Always look behind the sign, and more to the people who work there. The Volvo workshop always gaved fixed prices, but what good does that do, when they only replace the right part on every third attempt or so?

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