• Report: #835068

Complaint Review: Walt's Auto Service Plus

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  • Submitted: Mon, February 06, 2012
  • Updated: Sat, February 18, 2012

  • Reported By: Eric — Topeka Kansas USA
Walt's Auto Service Plus
2201 SW 10th Ave. Topeka, Kansas United States of America

Walt's Auto Service Plus Walt's Auto Services Plus, Inc. Didn't completely fix my car AND recommended unnecessary head gasket replacement Topeka, Kansas

*Author of original report: Shutting the door...

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: I am so confident of diagnoses that I would even refund your money

*Author of original report: I only want the "honest deal" advertised

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: It is hard to find a good honest customer.

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This review is quite long. However, I'm not your typical whining customer. I have a case to state, and I have research and evidence to back it up.

Walt's failed to fully resolve my problem and tried to convince me of the need for unnecessary work. Unnecessary, as in replacing a head gasket (and necessary engine machining that comes with such a job) without any of the following:
  • Oil in the coolant
  • Coolant in the oil
  • White steam out the exhaust
  • Coolant leak
  • Confirmed exhaust gas (and not just plain air) bubbles in the coolant
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Loss of engine power
  • Misfiring
  • Engine overheating
  • Cooling system pressure with transient spikes coincident with the powerstroke of a cylinder
  • Reduced compression in one or more cylinders
The only test of the head gasket function was observing bubbles in the coolant. That's not a specific test, for it fails to consider the possibility that the gas in the system is actually air (not exhaust gas) from elsewhere, including perhaps air introduced during a poorly done drain and fill.

Noting the YouTube user wallyspeeds who made this comment on this video from a different YouTube user WaltsAutoServicePlus, I'm suspicious as to why Walt's needs two YouTube user accounts (or a friend) to post about this, with one commenting on the other. I wonder if there's a lot of reviewer spam on Google, too, similar to what I've found with this YouTube stuff - they've got someone (who is not me, but Big E is me) posing that possibility!

I would have been more convinced with a combustion gas leak test or a cooling system pressure test, but those were never offered. When I even suggested the possibility of air in the system from elsewhere, I felt that Walt essentially lamented the fact that people do his job.

However, the only credentials his shop has are Chamber of Commerce membership (which any business can join, regardless of what they do) and experience. He's active in the community, which is good for PR but doesn't help fix customer cars.

Things not clearly displayed at the shop, on the website, or in advertising: ASE certified techs or automotive tech school diplomas. Nor is the shop's grade with the Better Business Bureau ever mentioned. I don't blame them - I wouldn't flaunt an F, either.

Wow, all that and I didn't even get to the original problem that brought me to a shop in the first place! I came in for thumping in the rear, which was in the front before I rotated the tires, and which happened after a short stop on the interstate. Tires replaced, and the problem was almost fixed, except that being the daily driver of my car, I heard the thump every now and then. With a passenger, and not even a mile down the road, I heard it loud and clear.

A second opinion led to a diagnosis of a bad wheel bearing. Walt's noticed a dent in the wheel itself...but the wheel bearing replacement (at the other shop) fixed my problem! The mechanic there was outraged at how much I was overcharged after I showed him my bill for the tires and estimate for engine work. He confidently said no engine work was necessary. He and his crew pointed out the possibility of even being able to drive with a bad head gasket for a while in some cases just by adding coolant.

Not only that, but this coolant gas test shows bubbles in both the good and the bad cases!



Walt has an analogy for thorough car checkups being like going to the doctor's office.
While I appreciate the sentiment behind the traditional checkup, it's not worth it if it results in recommendations that can be judged as unwarranted by both research and a second opinion. Not only that, but people go through unnecessary medical procedures and surgeries because their doctor said it would help. Furthermore, unnecessary medical procedures and prescriptions are big drivers of increasing healthcare cost, which unless you're lucky, you've noticed.

I can describe my experience at Walt's with a medical analogy, too: Let's assume that though you don't run marathons, you're in good shape but have your problems every now and then. The arches of your feet hurt, and so do your ankles, despite your best efforts at exercising and stretching. He says you have plantar fasciitis, and due to your history, he recommends surgery. He gives you general anesthesia and proceeds with the surgery.

When you wake up, he tells you that he listened to your heart and found a murmur that is definitely a mitral valve prolapse, and he recommends a heart valve replacement. After your health insurance went through the bill, the general anesthesia was deemed medically unnecessary, and you were stuck with a larger bill from the doctor than your friend paid for the same surgery earlier.

As you recover from minor surgery, you feel very nervous about needing major surgery. Not only that, but once your surgical pain is gone, your right ankle still hurts, but half as much as it used to. Being curious, you go out and get more information about mitral valve prolapse. Come to find out, the standard of care isn't to correct all mitral valve prolapses with surgery - only a few of them. Most of them are innocent, especially for someone like you who has never felt anything wrong with your heart despite an active lifestyle.

You complain to the doctor, and he says to come by the next day to have that ankle checked out. You ask if he only listened to your heart or took some imaging of it, but he says that he only needed to listen to it to know that you need surgery, and it's pretty bad, yet there's no telling definitively how long you'd live without the surgery. He also mentioned that your ankle cartilage was fairly whittled, and he'd suggest a total ankle replacement to fix the remnants of your ankle pain. Furthermore, he lamented the fact that you read Wikipedia, especially the Prognosis section, and were therefore trying to play doctor.

You talk to your friends to calm your nerves, and one of them gives you the name and phone number of another doctor who has seen her and her son and always treated their ailments right, the first time, and without excess.

Upon seeing another doctor, he treats the tendinitis in your ankle, and you feel a lot better. He said that he didn't even hear the heart murmur but suggested an echocardiogram if it would offer you reassurance. He also noted that mitral valve prolapse actually has a good prognosis if you actually have it, and people without symptoms don't need surgery. In fact, he said that in your state, you'd most likely live a full and unaffected life. Furthermore, getting the surgery carries the risk of death, infection, heart failure, bleeding, and for the mechanical heart valves typically used in a patient as young as you, you need lifelong warfarin treatment, which requires at least monthly lab visits to keep your treatment optimal but not toxic. You could get a pig's valve, but that would last only 10-15 years, and you need anti-rejection immunosuppressant medication in that case.

He further said that your first doctor was a quack for wanting to rush to surgery without an echocardiogram, CT, MRI, or even X-ray, and people don't pay so much for plantar fasciitis surgery because the anesthesia was unnecessary.



If you followed the analogy, here's the translation:
  • Feet: rear tires/wheels
  • Plantar fasciitis surgery: tire replacement, mount, and balance
  • Total ankle replacement: a new wheel
  • Tendinitis treatment: a new wheel bearing
  • Mitral valve prolapse: bad head gasket
  • Heart valve replacement: replacing the head gasket and engine cylinder machining as necessary
  • Risks of surgery: risks of engine machining, at least a little will be necessary - cylinder cracking, overheating, seizing, actual head gasket seal failure, reduced fuel economy

 



Summary
  1. I went to Walt's for thumping noise in the rear.
  2. I left with replaced tires, some thumping, and an estimate for a head gasket replacement and related engine work.
  3. Walt's thought the remaining thumping could be fixed with a new wheel.
  4. A second opinion failed to substantiate the need for engine work but found the need for a new wheel bearing. That fixed all the thumping.
  5. The medical analogy: What good is a thorough checkup when it leads to unnecessary, life-changing surgery with a greater risk than benefit?

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/06/2012 11:48 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Walts-Auto-Service-Plus/Topeka-Kansas-66604-3903/Walts-Auto-Service-Plus-Walts-Auto-Services-Plus-Inc-Didnt-completely-fix-my-car-AND-835068. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 0Consumer 2Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Shutting the door...

AUTHOR: Eric - (USA)

As far as my behavior is concerned, it's nothing that needs to be explained. I am the paying customer, not the one making money. I am not the one representing myself as a competent mechanic. I am not trying to sell anyone anything in this transaction. I do not advertise auto repair services using the words "honest deal."

I do not sell, or attempt to sell, unnecessary head gasket service. On that note, my head gasket is fine. I had a mechanic check it, and I have his invoice. I also did my own coolant gas chemical test, which failed to react (meaning that any bubbles are not CO2).

I once worked with customers, and I still do on occasion online. I don't lose my cool with the "bad" ones. I certainly don't post their names or where they work or insinuate that their character caused another to criminally victimize them. I don't keep a database about them, either.

One more thing...I didn't accuse anyone of lying without evidence or good reason, nor did I accuse anyone of lying with evidence or good reason that he was being truthful.

As for shutting the front door, after responding to that first rebuttal, I did so...to the Kansas Attorney General's office. Now, this matter is in their hands.
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#2 REBUTTAL Owner of company

I am so confident of diagnoses that I would even refund your money

AUTHOR: walts auto service plus - (United States of America)

You say that what you want is honesty.

Lots of unanswered questions about your behavior:

Why did you not show up for your agreed upon appointment?
Do you not think it would be in your best interest to give the shop a chance to correct any possible wrong doing?
Why do you not mention that when the bad tires were replaced with good ones thumping tire noise went away.
Why did you come into my shop to begin with?
What caused you to leave your last shop.
What was the reason for another shop to say something bad about my shop, not very professional. I would have refered you back to the original shop that did the work. i hav anation wide warranty for my repairs.

You say you would have been more convinced with a combustion gas leak test or a cooling system pressure test, but those were never offered. I wonder Why you would say this? The answer is simple is that you never ask me to.

My test is simple and does not cost the customer any money Free!!!

You like to put down my video, simple test that others on the internet show with different variations.
I guess all the people are dishonest also.

Just had another vehicle 2008 Chevy HHR with 32000 miles that was covered under warranty, I went and visited with David Johnson the service director Ed Bozarth Chevrolet and discussed the bubbles in the cooling system and showed him my youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAJLMd46ySU I also like this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoi4h8EZPr8&feature=related less mess. He agreed with me and thought it was informative. He has seen many head gaskets issues in his position as well.
 
Simply speaking bubbles test easy simple and free. When we spoke on the phone you told me the reasons the bubbles were in there was because you drained and refilled the antifreeze last year. when I put the funnel on your radiator and fill it with water if there was any air pocket the water level would drop. It did not, once you get your thermostat open and the entire cooling system flowing if c02 gas bubbles come out you have a bad head gasket.
 
But lets get down to brass tacks.

If you want and are willing to pay for my time, I can perform a proper combustion gas chemical leak test, a cooling pressure test, and a cylinder air pressure test to isolate which cylinder(s) is leaking to put this issue to rest.
 
I would even video it to make a great youtube training video.
 
I am so confident of diagnoses that I would even refund your money for your tires and wheel bearing repair.
 
Time for you to shut the front door.
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#3 Author of original report

I only want the "honest deal" advertised

AUTHOR: Eric - (USA)

I'm not out to destroy this business - only to demand the "honest deal" sung about in the advertising.

Before I went to this business, I saw the online reviews were mostly positive. I hope they truly have so many satisfied customers, since happy customers are vital to any business. I also relied upon their 10% discount, Chamber of Commerce membership, website and TV advertising to think, "Hey, maybe this will be a good shop in Topeka that I can trust."

However, I went for wheel work and left with two new tires, an estimate for a head gasket repair with engine work and an attenuated knocking in the rear that I fortunately caught before this snowy weather.

At first, I believed this shop and was nervous about needing this repair, since it is about a month's net pay. I am happy to be fortunate enough to earn what I do. However, there are those out there who do not. Had they received the same diagnosis, they would be even harder pressed to think about how they could afford it. Therefore, a head gasket diagnosis shouldn't be made lightly.

I am sure that I would be a "good customer" had I not done my research and just played along with the allegedly necessary head gasket repair. However, I was fortunate enough to receive a recommendation for a different shop. Furthermore, I also did my research and found the flaw in the case for replacing my head gasket.

After being told by that shop that the head gasket was okay, hearing from other people with similar experiences, no one personally saying a good thing about this shop to me, Mr. Pursell making a follow-up call and continuing to push the head gasket, and doing my homework, I felt it to be my ethical obligation to get my report out there online. That way, someone similarly situated as me could see the Internet reviews and judge for themselves. If they go to this shop, that's fine. If not, that's their decision.

No, I was not forced into the head gasket repair. However, I did feel like my anxieties were played upon, and it was emphatically recommended to me as something necessary.

I know I was taking a risk by getting my story out there. However, Mr. Pursell explicitly made it personal. As difficult as it is, I tried hard not to explicitly call him a liar, cheat, or anything like that. Rather, I chose to state the facts, point out when the evidence demonstrated that the head gasket recommendation was not necessary, and draw upon an analogy similar to the one used in this shop's pitch: the doctor. The reader might probably draw some of those unfavorable conclusions of the shop and Mr. Pursell, but I didn't come out and state it.

I truly regret that Mr. Pursell chose to make it personal, call me Jimi and Will, and make personal attacks. I am neither of those people who reviewed this shop on Google. I do claim to be Big E, and I did say so. The only link between those reviewers and me is that we did not review this shop favorably.

I invite him or anyone associated with this shop to contact Google to try to get any evidence to prove that I am either Jimi or Will. I look forward to obtaining evidence to prove that I am neither of those users.
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#4 REBUTTAL Owner of company

It is hard to find a good honest customer.

AUTHOR: walts auto service plus - (United States of America)

Eric Benavidez of Topeka, AKA Big E, Jimi, Will I'm sorry to see you have such a negative perception of our services.
When you brought your car in, your complaint was that your car had a thumping noise coming from the front and then After you had your tires were rotated, the thumping moved to the rear. You asked us to find the cause of that noise. We raised your car and found flat spots on your tires, and damage to one of your wheels.

You confirmed this by stating you skidded your tires on I 70 and you knew you ran over something. I recommended replacing, mounting, and balancing your rear tires, and you approved that work. The next day, you called saying there was a whining noise in the rear of your car.

We never heard the whining noise over the thumping sounds the tires were making. By taking care of the tires, we assumed we fixed the problem, because that was the only problem we knew to look for.

While speaking on the phone with you, we set up a time for you to bring your car in the next day. You never showed up. The following business day I followed up with you.

You explained you took your car to another mechanic, who found a wheel bearing making the whining noise.

Like I mentioned earlier, there was no way we could have heard that over the thumping noise. Since that thumping was your complaint, we thought the problem was solved.

Regarding your head gasket, my test is simple and easy. If the water bubbles up, it means your gasket is not sealing and leaking. You have a bad gasket that needs to be replaced before other parts of your vehicle are damaged. Get someone else to test it if you don't believe me.

I'm glad you have taken an interest in your car. An informed driver is a smarter driver, and the life of your car will be extended because of that.

What you did not say was that there was no charge for my test and I did not pressure you into any repairs. I went over the other inspections I performed at no charge to you. - 1st we scanned your vehicle for any codes, current, history and pending, none were found.

we checked your dash for any warning lights and to make sure you check engine light works. we checked your reverse, tag, head, turn lights to make sure they are operational. we checked your windshield, wipers, mirrors and horn, for safety reasons.
we checked your coolant tank level and inside for any oil residue- we found yours to have some oil film inside, sign of a head gasket leaking. We also check the inside of your radiator and then perform a C02 gas bubble test, which failed on your vehicle. I also noted that a salvage yard motor was installed at one time.

We made a recommendation to change your manual transmission fluid per mileage.
We checked your oil level and noted that it was clean and full. We also noted that your air filter was new and clean.

Your acc belts were ok but your pulleys for the belts were worn.

Your vehicle has a timing belt which we did not know if it was changed or not, no replacement sticker was present and it Is a salvage yard motor, checked your hoses ok, checked your battery voltage, it s/d around 12.5 volts and it tested 12.4 658/575 cold cranking amps and was purchased 2/2011, we checked your alternator to make sure it was recharging your battery properly s/b around 14 volts- tested 13.74. made notes that the vehicle had new tune up parts installed and that the fuel filter was non serviceable because it was in the gas tank, we looked thru your wheels and noted that the front pads had approx 80% left, we inspected your ball joints and tie rod ends for play and found none, we inspected your struts for any visual damage and any signs of leakage and found none, we inspected your front and rear wheel bearings for any play and did not find any (you can have a bad wheel bearing that howls or whines but does not present any movement.) to finish it up we looks at your exhaust system for any parts that are rusted thru on hanging loosely. For the record I charged hour to diagnose your complaint of VEHICLE MAKING THUMPING NOISE IN LEFT REAR- STARTED AFTER COMING TO A HARD STOP ON INTERSTATE- CUSTOMER ROTATED TIRES AND NOISE WENT FROM FRONT TO BACK- POSSIBLE FLAT SPOTED TIRE, CHECK ALL TIRES.

After finding the tires with flat spots in them I called you and recommended that you replace both rear tires to get rid of the thumping noise. The charge for that was 20 minutes of time plus the parts. A sum total of 50 minutes of time. Were you get the notion that you were ripped off I have know Idea. I did not over charge you for any time and I had a minimal % mark up on your tires.

I did not over charge you in any way, almost forgot that  you forgot to mentioned you received a 10% discount for working at Blue Cross. You told me that someone stole your tires and wheels at one time. I wonder why someone would be upset at you. Hmmm go figure.

Since you like to do all this internet research I would have that you would have been more prudent before you oked the work to be done and the fact that Dodge Neons have many postings of head gaskets issues and that the head gaskets have been redesigned multiple times.

You have been on the internet trying to hurt my reputation by creating a dust storm of speculation, opinion,  lies and half truths. People often say it is hard to find a good honest mechanic. I say I know lots good honest mechanics. It is hard to find a good honest customer. We need a website that rates our customers so other will know what is in stored if they do business with said individual. Good information to know during an interview. I hope you get your car taken care of. -Sincerely, Walt
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