Necessary Repair or rip off for water leak

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This situation occurred in Florida, if that has any bearing on your input.
My mother drives a 1997 Dodge Ram 1500 pick up truck that she bought used earlier this year. The Dodge has about 70,000 miles and is equipped with a tow package to haul her horse trailer. The truck was running fine with no engine, cooling, heating, stalling, etc. problems. Last time I borrowed the truck from her to take the kids fishing she warned me that when you turn the corner, your feet will get wet. Sure enough, ALOT of water came flying out from behind the area where the ash tray is, behind the dash near the floor, by your feet. The water was not dirty in appearance and did not have a smell and was a little cool, which is nice because it is hot as Hell in Florida right now.
I told her I thought it was the drain for the a/c, that maybe it had come disconnected somehow.
A few days later, she took the truck to her mechanic. Turns out, they said it was a heater core with a teeny tiny little hole. The mechanic told her that it is a hard thing to find, that little hole. They replaced the heater coil and she had her truck back in 24 hours. And $790.00 later.
A couple days later I borrowed the truck to move a jacuzzi(that is another long story) and what do you know....same tidal wave is still going on when you turn the corner.
She took the truck back to the same mechanic and told him that it was still spewing water into the passenger compartment. This time, while she was there, they pulled a hose from something under the hood, blew it out with compressed air and plugged it back in. Apparently, the drain hose for the A/C had become plugged up and was backing up into the passenger compartment.
My question is......was the removal and replacement of the heater core, thermostat and dash really necessary? Isn't it kind of standard to start with simple, cheap and obvious fixes to a complaint before doing a major-uneeded repair?
She went into the mechanic with only the complaint of water gushing into the passenger compartment when turning.
She trusted the mechanic to detect and fix the problem.
They performed a repair that did not resolve the problem.
They charged her $522.00 in labor and $214.89 in parts.
I told her to stop payment on her check, which she did. I have not spoken with the mechanic yet.
Does she have to pay the mechanic for this unecessary repair?
His invoice listed the following:
Labor
R & R Heater Core 8.75 hours 40.00 p/h
R & R Thermostat 2.3 hours 40.00 p/h
R & R Dash out and back in 2 hours 40.00 p/h

Parts
Anti Freeze 14.95
Heater Core 185.99
Thermostat 10.95
Gasket 3.00

So you can get an idea of what they charged.
What do you think, did they take advantage of her and perform an unnecessary repair? and if so, what can we do about the bill?

posted by  dejem

Hi hope she got kissed, now my book shows just under 3 hours to do the heater core ,and 1 hour for the thermostat,also when you pull out the heater core you have to be carefull or you can knock off the drain tube for the AC that is pluged in the heater case, Now if the leak was the heater core it would have been leaking antifreeze not clear water,so her trouble to start with was the AC drain hose, Tell her to go to small claims court and file with them for the rip off,She may still have to pay for the parts but they should cut the labor down. Good luck Slim :screwy:

posted by  Slimone

Any idea what happened to the old heater core? If you had it, you could tell whether or not there was actually a leak, but I'm guessing that they either threw it away, sold it to a remanufacture company, or if they were intentionally unethical, sold it to someone else as a rebuilt heater core, if it was working.

There is a possibility that there was actually a hole in the heater core, which they may have correctly diagnosed and fixed, but it didn't solve the problem that the customer was complaining about.

posted by  kanato

Thanks for the good response, we will see where we get with negotiating the labor :thumbs:

posted by  dejem

damn, sorry to hear about the problem with the mechanic. that seriously sounds like one bastard that likes to rip off people. i hope the problem gets fixed.

btw, yea, the simple things are always the first ones that HAVE to be checked. since, after all, its always the little things that usually break, give the most problems, and people ever hardly even notice.

posted by  Inygknok

Yep, if there wasn't antifreeze in it, it was the condesation from the A/C system. While he corrected the original problem the second time( how conveinent), he failed to offer her a refund for making a bundle off her. A call to the better business bureau is helpful. Sorry to hear about that one. :(

posted by  MsSnapon

We are working on fixing this mechanic's way of doing business...he is not going to be very happy when I am done with him, but at least he won't try to defraud some like my mom any time soon.

Is that your supra, in front of S.J. Int'l airport? nice car....we had one like that when we lived in Japan...any oil problems?

posted by  dejem

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