On December 30, 2009, around 2:00 pm local time, I visited Pep Boys to have a smog test done on my 2001 Ford Escape, and to find out why the check engine light was on. The smog test is required to reregister my car, and the check engine light was bugging me, because everything seemed just fine (fluids and belts fine, no leaks, no electrical anomalies, etc). I figured it had to be an O2 sensor, the most common reason if the other areas aren't having an issue.
The engine diagnostic test was to cost $99.00, and the smog test $39.00, and I was told it would take about 90 minutes total. I was one of two cars, and there were three mechanics on duty, plus a service manager I knew from previous visits.
45 minutes in, I was told their computer could not talk to the one in my car, and that my car had obviously suffered a major electrical system failure. I knew this to be BS, and told them to use the other ECM reader they used on Fords. I had already been through this with them the previous visit, so I knew what the problem was (their newest computer only works with the newest cars). They told me they had already done that, and that I would have to pay an additional $225.00 to have them check out the entire electrical system, and that I would have to leave the car there overnight.
I could smell a scam right then and there. I asked for my keys back and left.
I then took my car to a friend's mechanic, who has kept her car running in top condition. He hooked up his computer, and within a minute had the problem figured out (a bad EGR valve). He ordered the part, fixed the car, drove it around for 30 minutes to get the engine warmed up again, smogged it, and was done in 2 hours. Total cost was less than what Pep Boys tried to charge me for a nonexistent problem.
Guess who will never get any of my business again, and who now gets it all?