Cottman and Amco Transmissions have merged. It must have been a merger of equals because one company is as bad as the other. Cottman has 3 customer service reps and Aamco has 7 customer service reps nationally. On a scale of 1-10 Cottman reps and shops get a 2 and Aamco gets a 0.
My troubles started on vacation back at the end of June. Our 2001 Ford Taurus started spewing transmission fluid from the main seal at Rock Hill,SC. I took it to a Cottman Shop and they couldn't have been nicer, they took in to consideration that we were on vacation and they got us up and running with a rebuilt tranny in 24 hours - $1400. They gave us a clean bill of health on the rest of the front end, cv joints, engine and we were vacation bound.
We drove it that day for about 6 hours and stopped for the night. The next morning I looked and there was a puddle of transmission fluid but it was now coming from the drive axle side. The main seal was good. I called Rock Hill Cottman and told them about it and they recommended keeping an eye on it and getting it to a Cottman or Aamco once we reached our destination of Florida.
We took a few days off when we arrived in Florida and contacted Aamco in Venice,Florida and they said bring it in and they would take a look. We stopped and they said it was just a seal and they could replace it in a half hour. At that point I said okay and didn't care if it was covered or not.
After an hour we heard the shop hand swearing, and wailing on the car with a sledge hammer(I was feeling that way myself). Later he came in and said Cottman in Rock Hill didn't put the transmission together right. Joe the manager said he would contact Cottman in Rock Hill, SC and get them to authorize repairs. Cottman agreed to the repair. We left the car. Keep in mind we are on vacation and I had to get my 80 year old parents to come and get us and rely on them helping us get around the rest of the vacation.
The short version of the long story in Florida was that Aamco kept telling us they were going to make it right and we were next in line - for 8 DAYS. There R&R guy was off on Saturday, then he was off on Monday sick,then he was in the hospitla - yadda,yadda,yadda They were going to tear the tranny apart and rebuild it properly. I had to end up using 2 more days vacation than planned because I had no way to get back north.
Finally I called on the 8th day and the manager said they didn't do any transmission work but replaced the axle/cv unit on the drivers side, seal and ball joint. As far as I know the R&R guy is on R&R - I guess that is why they call him the R&R guy. I wasn't happy.
I picked up the car expecting an apology from the manager but only got to take out my frustration on the hired help. I later apologized to Tim the guy who helped in the repairs. I drove it back to my parents. The car now had a clunk coming from the suspension on both sides of the front end. I called Aamco back up and the guy told me he noticed the clunking and it must be the struts. Both struts go bad after a shop has subjected it to abuse - go figure. $350
We took off on Friday for the north country. The transmission was still leaking and now we had bonus clunks from the front end. We contacted Aamco Customer Service and talked to a rep - I have the name but won't include it. We told her we were still leaking and not even sure if the car was safe to drive and asked her to advise us on what to do. She said she would get back to us but never did. We contacted her 2 more times that day and 1 more time after arriving home. No return call.
We stopped in Rock Hill at the Cottmans where the original repair was attempted. The manager met us after hours, was cordial, sympathetic and told us - yes, you have a leak, and you have a new front end noise. Go north he said and take it to a Cottman.
We made it back to WV and contacted a Cottman's in Charleston,WV We made an appointment for the following week and left it in Charleston for 5 days. They got the leak fixed but I also ended up buying a new right axle/cv assembly and another ball joint.
Nothing was leaking or a problem on that side but the manager said the parts were bad. The Charleston shop also tightened up everything they could in the front end. $250
When I left the the Cottman in Charleston I felt pretty good. The drive seal was no longer leaking, Florida had put it in wrong, and the clunks were seemingly gone.
That lasted until I hit the first back road. In WVa there are numerous 1 1/2 lane paved roads. As soon as I started down that road - which really wasn't rough I started hearing some rattling. Later in the day I turned right out of our gravel driveway at home and I heard a lound clunk from the left of the vehicle. It never stopped clunking. I called Cottman in Charleston and let them know. Drive it and keep an eye on it I was advised. I drove it for a week. I sprayed silicon on the sledge hammer abused control arm where it fastens on to the frame, hit the stabilizer link and stabilizer mount with silicon too. Now the front end made clunking noises all the time.
I called Charleston and the manager said to bring it in Monday. My wife dropped it off on Monday with the help of a friend who gave her a ride back the 50 miles to Lansing,WV. I drove her car to Covington, Va (2 hours from Charleston, 1 3/4hr from Lansing). We assumed Charleston would get right on it but I called this afternoon and it was still sitting. I asked Charleston to get in touch with a regional manager at Cottman/Aamco - but he said although the car wasn't right and he suspected abuse in Florida he hadn't had time to look at it yet. I asked him to hurry.
Cottman or Aamco has had my car 20 out of the last 43 days. We had to get a motel and rental car in Rock Hill while on vacation, depend on my parents for transportation 8 days while in Florida, we've had to share one car for 7 days between the two of us - I only live in WVa on weekends and work in Covington Va during the week. There seems no end to the problem.
Bottom line. My advise would be to check out the reputation of the Cottman or AAMCO transmission shop before taking your vehicle to them. I'm sure there are good shops out there but keep in mind none of them have any corporate backing. 3 national Customer Service Reps for Cottman - 7 for Aamco.
Lansing, West Virginia
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