Auto repair is not a cut and dry business. Today we have 5 cars here that are very difficult to diagnose. All 5 will either not start, start and immediately shut down, stall after driving awhile then immediately restart or drive for awhile, stall and not restart. A couple of these cars we’ve “fixed” already. It’s pretty common to have these issues occasionally but to have 5 in one day is pretty overwhelming. Every time the phone rings I’m afraid to answer it, I can’t handle a 6th. Whenever there are vehicles with these types of issues I become very involved with the repairs. I spend quite a bit of time researching each issue/vehicle because many times there are specific fails on particular cars and it can cut the diagnosis time to a mere few minutes if I can figure that out. Sometimes, we spend hours driving around just trying to emulate an issue.
These types of repairs are nightmares for auto shops. We can spend untold amounts of time that we never charge for. We also try various parts that may or may not work. Eventually we do figure it out, once in a while we have to bring an electrical specialist in, but it gets done.
If this has happened to you, it doesn’t mean that the mechanic has screwed up, it may just be a difficult problem to solve. If this does happen, just make sure they don’t try to recharge you for things you’ve already paid for and also have them work with you on the pricing for the diagnostics. I always take into account what a car is worth when charging for that. Certainly a vehicle that’s worth $2,000 doesn’t need a diagnostics bill that is close to the value. If it needs an expensive part and the customer decides to invest that’s another story.
We always get to the bottom of these issues, sometimes you just need to bang your head against the wall a few times first.