I’m writing to ask what I should do in what I believe was a faulty repair/faulty replacement part completed by a mechanic I’ve used a number of times. I have a Honda Civic and had the timing belt replaced at 80,000 miles (I realize this is early milage-wise, but it was well over 7 years). The timing belt, water pump and belt tensioner & spring were replaced, as they should be.
However, just the other day I started my car, and there is a highly noticeable sound coming from underneath the timing belt cover. It sounds as though the belt is smacking the side heavily & is loose. I believe the belt tensioner has failed. I’ve driven the car about 12,000 miles since the original replacement. There is no way in my opinion that a tensioner/spring should go in 12,000 miles.
My question is, can I approach the mechanic and ask for a free repair? Assuming it is the tensioner/spring, it’s a cheap part, but the time and labor to get to it and remove the timing belt/cover is hundreds of dollars I don’t think I should have to pay. Help!
Great question….and not easy to answer.
let me say this, if you were in my shop this is how I would approach it.
1. You have been a good customer for a while and would probably recommend (or bad mouth) me to your friends, so I better take care of you
2. Who knows what is happening inside the cover, maybe a faulty part that is not my fault….but I need to warranty it, maybe it was faulty installation, maybe it is something totally new that I did not touch?
3. You are beyond the normal warranty period of 12 months 12K miles…I guess just barely or maybe just shy, so how big of a stickler am I going to be?
4. IF the belt breaks it can do serious internal damage to the engine, do I want my customer to incur this cost at another shop and bad mouth me?
5. If I fix the problem now, even at my expense will you come back and see me and tell your friends what a great guy I am?
So, those are the thoughts running through his mind (at least mine as a business owner)
I would suggest you take the vehicle back to see him, now, not later on, and let him listen to it. Be nice and respectful but also let him know you are a loyal customer and will remain one if we can work this out.
Things happen, mechanics fall a sleep at the job and fail to tighten bolts, fail to re-install all bolts, fail to notice other issues that can cause a problem, etc. etc. so it might not be HIM who is responsible, and the big question is ….is it even their fault at all? They might have used Honda parts and those parts failed, so is he to blame or Honda? Who pays to redo the job?
If you were in my shop I would tear down the timing cover and re-inspect the job again…..this time I would PERSONALLY inspect the job with the mechanic. if a part we replaced has failed, fine I will own up to it and do the whole job at no charge to you.
If there is a new part like the timing cover seals have leaked on oil the belt then I would charge you for the seals and not the labor.
I think if you are nice enough, word things correctly you should be able to get him to at least do the labor at no charge to you. You might have to buy a part, either a new one that has now failed like the seals or the tensioner that you previously bought. BTW, a real Honda timing belt tensioner and guide is probably close to $50.
Now on the bright side, if there is one, this could be something outside the cover and totally un-related. Noises have a way of tricking you as to the source and can telescope their culprit pretty easily.
I would remove the serpentine fan belt and start the engine and see if the noise is still present with the fan belt removed. If it is, then its probably internal to the timing cover or some other internal engine area.