I normaly do not contribute to these forums, but I have had so many BAD experiences with this shop I had to register and post, I really think these folks are corrupt.
My most recent experience was with a 1993 Geo Metro I bought as a basket case, and rebuilt the engine, then sold it to a friend. Well when I took this car to my usual smog guy he informed me that the car was previously flagged as a "gross polluter" when the previous owner tried to have it smogged (with a failed engine). Due to this, he informed me that I would need to take it to the "referee" which is A-1 smog on Market st. Well I wasnt thrilled, since having several bad experiences in the past with this shop, but since I have done five other cars just like this one without any troubles, I thought I would be ok, and it would pass just like the previous five Metros, well I was WRONG!
They told me it failed due to a high idle and that the timing was set incorrect. I was really dissapointed, in the 14 years I have frequented this shop NEVER have they passed my car! Ok so after talking to the service guy there I was even more confused, I won't go into detail but he was trying to explain that the timing was too advanced at 0 degrees btdc, when the spec is 5 degrees before, so basicly he made no sense, I asked him to repeat it three times. Well he just ignored me when I tried to reason what the difference between advancing and retarding timing, cause he clearly had no clue what he was talking about, cause he made no sense to me.
So I take the car home, set the timing again (which is still 5 degrees before top dead center) per the factory service manual, which is still the same, so I assume the shops timing light, and my timing light aren't giving the same reading, I can only assume their timing light is off, as my readings are always the same as my smog guys timing light. Well I set that and the idle to their suggestion, and came back for the re-test.
Well as I expected they tell me it failed again, the timing is off, and that I will need to pay them $25 bucks to set it.. Infuriated at this point I tell him about the timing light discrepency and ask if they can read it with another light, they tell me no they are all the same, blah blah, well im pressed for time so I just tell them to do it, that I just need it to pass (the car was sold 3 days prior to this fiasco). So I pay the additional charge, then they come back to tell me, well now that the timing is "correct" the idle is once again too high.. Well DUHH! How stupid do you have to be??? HELLO! So again, they nail me with another charge to set the idle, mind you both of these (timing and idle) take seconds to adjust, not minutes, SECONDS.. Ok so I pay $71 dollars now to get the hell out of there. Car passes, im outta there...
Let me give you some background and why I am here to b*itch.. I have dealt with this company for 14 years, im a retired auto mechanic so wrenching on cars is my hobby. Well I have had two other vehicles fail at this shop. When I first moved here I didn't know who else to go to, so I just went there. Well one day after my third attempt to get my truck smogged there, I was so frustrated (cause the reason for failing it was not made clear to me) so I drove till I found ANOTHER smog shop. Well 20 minutes later I was off down the road with a passed vehicle. I found it odd, and just used that as an example of why to never go to A-1 again. I cut my losses (I think all together that smog wound up being $200)
After that experience I ended up going to them a second time with another vehicle. I went to them cause at that time they were the only shop open on a Saturday and I needed to get my truck smogged cause I had sold it. I went through the same thing, they told me the gas cap was incorrect for my truck. Well after jumping through several hoops, they never did pass it. I remembered my experience with my other truck, so I took this one to the other shop, passed with flying colors.
So this is 3 BAD experiences with 3 different cars, that all PASSED at 2 different other shops in town. Im inclined to think this company FLEECES it's customer's wallet's. I am not the only one either, I have had reletives have very expensive bills there. I suggest anyone in Redding to take their vehicles to Art at Revival Auto Care off placer or R-T Automotive on Lake Blvd, both of these shops treat you with respect, and are very clear, and will normaly fix any minor "adjustments" free. A-1 sees one screw out of adjustment and it becomes this major project to them. I understand we all need to eat, but using the smog clientel to drum up business is just frustrating! These people are held captive by these shops and I think it is horrible practice!
Being an experienced customer (I myself was a smog tech from 1990 to 1992) I can see how these shops totaly take advantage of customers. And when someone that knows their car questions them, they seem to change their tune. These guys think they are smog cops, and it drives me nuts.