We had a call from one of our customers asking if we could call round to his neighbor who was having car problems. Apparently the female owner had been having problems with her car not starting and she had already spent a lot of money on parts and labor from various other ‘mobile mechanics’ in San Antonio who were still unable to find the problem.
The car was a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu with a V6 motor, the problem was that it would not turn over let alone start. Below is a list of parts they convinced her to buy:
Starter , battery, alternator, radiator (?) and water pump (?) .
The starter and battery could of possibly cured the problem but we are at a loss as to why the alternator, radiator and the water pump would cause the engine to not turn over. After making our own checks we noticed that the spark plugs appeared rusty and there was no coolant in the system, the owner confirmed she watched the last ‘mechanic’ put in new coolant. With our suspicions aroused we filled the radiator and tank with water and asked the owner to attempt to start the engine. The starter engaged but stopped with a clunk ( symptoms that could be misread as a bad starter or battery), with the ignition off we tried to turn the engine over by hand but it appeared to be seized up. Removing all of the front 3 spark plugs proved my first hunch was correct, I asked the owner to try and start the engine one more time once I was stood to the side of the car.
Sure enough the engine turned over and water came shooting out of the spark plug holes, my initial diagnosis was correct. The engine had overheated so badly that coolant was seeping into the combustion chambers causing a ‘hydraulic lock’ , this to an inexperienced ‘mechanic’ would sound like a bad starter. We explained that the cylinder heads would need to be removed to check the full extent of the damage, worse case the heads or even the engine block could be cracked and unrepairable requiring a complete motor swap.
Now we could not confirm as to why the water pump and radiator needed replacing but if faulty could of contributed to the engine overheating.
If the most basic checks had been checked first the owner would not of had to spend out $$$$$ for parts she did not need. Stories like this are unfortunately becoming more and more common , inexperienced and unqualified ‘mobile mechanics’ are preying on unsuspecting motorists when they are vulnerable and it is costing them $$$$ of their hard earned money.