Initially, I suspected the service technician did (or neglected to do) something, probably inadvertently, to cause my engine to die on its way home from being diagnosed (having failed its DMV inspection). But, everyone assured me it was merely a coincidence. The engine blew a rod because the oil was sludgy due to my failure to get the oil changed frequently enough. The (Honda) engine had barely 100,000 miles on it. The oil had been changed within the last 3,000 miles, but, it had been nearly a year, since I wasn't driving it much.
The service rep found two replacement engines ranging in price from 3770 to 4500 depending on mileage and warranties. The better of the two deals was no longer available by the time I made my decision. So, I began searching for engines, myself. I found several much better deals, and selected one for 1850. Although it surprised me that all the engines (from reputable suppliers) seemed to cost half what the service rep was quoting, I don't fault Lithia for lacking resourcefulness or for possibly jacking up the price a bit.
The problem came when their quote for installing the replacement engine jumped by 60%. I understood that it was just an estimate; and I appreciate that there were many unknowns; but 60% was quite a hike.
When I asked for an explanation, they sent me a list of "additional items" that were required because of "problems" with the engine I supplied. The first thing I noticed was that the total cost of the "additional items" did not account for the difference between the two estimates. One particularly costly item was to replace a part that was "rusty", which would cost more than $100, just to rent a tool needed to remove it and replace it with the same part from my original engine. I also discovered that neither the original nor revised estimate included several items that most mechanics told me were standard inclusions for engine replacements, but, so be it.
Lacking a reasonable explanation, it seems clear to me that the original estimate was a come-on, as they knew I was shopping. It was classic bait-and-switch. When I hesitated upon hearing of the 60% jump, I was told that I needed to make a decision that day to either proceed with the work, or to get my car off their lot that day. That sort of pressure often accompanies a con (in my experience).
Because the revised estimate was now much higher than other estimates I had received, I transported the car and new engine to another shop. I don't fault Lithia for being higher priced than independent shops. I also don't fault them for experiencing some impatience with me (though the rudeness was inexcusable) since it had taken some 4 weeks to have American Honda investigate why an engine with a mere 100K miles failed, and for me to locate and have shipped the replacement engine.
My new mechanic said the "rusty" part did not need to be replaced, but could be easily buffed. I decided to take a look, myself. The "rust" was simple surface rust that any uncoated metal gets upon exposure to humidity! I have had several people look at it. All agree that no mechanic in his or her right mind would consider the part in need of replacement, especially to the tune of more than $100 just to rent a tool needed to accomplish it!
Taking into consideration the high-priced replacement engines offered, the hiked estimate to install a replacement engine (sans reasonable explanation), and the claimed need to replace (for exhorbitant fee) a part that clearly did not need replacing, most agree that this was a clear rip-off attempt, possibly starting with the engine failure in the first place.
I don't think I can prove they did anything beyond hiking prices, hiking an estimate, and making a bogus claim of a part needing replacement (from none of which did I suffer any financial loss); but, if others are experiencing engine failures following inspection by Lithia, I'd sure like to know about it! And, if my tale saves anyone from being ripped off by them, I'll be grateful.