ED Magedson – Founder
Garage Tuning810 W Barkley Ave. Unit A Orange, California USA
Garage Tuning, -- I was taken for thousands. -- Orange California
I asked for an engine to be rebuilt because of smoke visible out of the tailpipe when it’s under load. I got my car back and I followed his engine break–in instructions to the letter. When at low rpm the car drove just fine so nothing abnormal was noticed until the break-in was complete. After that the engine would pull up to 6 degrees of timing and there was little power made. I took it back to have the shop owner Kevin attempt to tune it out as he told me that all it needed were tuning adjustments. I ended up making many trips back allowing him to try to figure out what was wrong and after many months, rental cars, and $ given to him to basically throw parts at it to see what happens (he refused to apply basic troubleshooting skills -had he performed a simple compression check he would have seen much higher pressures and would then know or so he should have) he couldn’t figure it out. Each time I’d show up at an appointment he would complain that I hadn’t addressed other issues and that this was the reason. It was not at all the reason.
A year and a half of going back and forth on this issue I was getting tired. My car was not running well at all and he was refusing to believe that it might be the engine he had built. I wanted to just give up and run away from this shop but I just paid him $5.2k and had a warranty so I wanted this fixed without having me spend another $5k with someone else. One time he thought the turbo was too small and upgraded it, another time the front mount intercooler was too small and it too was replaced. Neither of these expensive parts had anything to do with the problem but I felt I didn’t have a choice. I felt that once I have played his game enough there would only be the engine left and he’d have to agree that was the issue.
Still getting nowhere had I done a lot of research on my own and I discovered that he or his shop had installed the wrong pistons! I looked up the D25 stamping on the cylinder head and discovered that he assumed that it was a b25 cylinder head – you’d think a shop that turns over so many rebuilt engines (that claims to only work on Subarus) should know better. Only after he digested the data for two days did he finally agree that it was his fault and he indeed installed the wrong pistons into the engine.
So now that was all cleared up I thought a good resolve was right around the corner…not at all. The correct fix would be to install the correct pistons. He would not agree to this. His fix was to install a different set of heads to lower the compression because (in an e-mail to me) he said that replacing the pistons is too expensive for him and he wouldn't do it. I fought him for days and gave up allowing him to install the different heads. He charged me $800 for this. I had been fighting this for well over a year and was driving an anemic car. At this point I had asked for (I thought reasonably so) additional work and had asked for a discount in labor at least. The reason I did this is because there were a few upgrades (yes upgrades not repairs) that can be done while the engine is out of the car which would save some money). He gave me no such break. I was very surprised. I received neither an apology, nor anything else for my troubles. I gave him every courtesy and respect and did not get this in return.
So I pick up my car thinking this is it and I’ll never go here again but 6 months later I blow a head gasket ruining the entire engine! He didn't install it correctly. After talking to another mechanic and many from online forums and message boards I believe the old head gasket was reused and wouldn’t be surprised if the cylinder heads were not torqued to the block correctly. Cylinder heads need to be re-torqued after 24 hours and this wasn't done. I was not informed by him or his shop to do this. He told me that he had just repaired a car with the exact sam eissue and it was only the radiator cap. I told him oil was found in the coolant so it was much more than just a radiator cap.
I have since installed another motor and the new installer provided me with a CD full of pictures of other things Kevin (or his shop) did wrong. A few examples are many (yes many) bolts missing from all over the motor as if they only installed the minimum required to keep it together. I had asked him to replace the clutch and he said my clutch was ok. Examination of it showed that it was worn down to the rivets!! He thinks this is ok?! It would have soon taken out the flywheel. This is downright deceptive! He also used the wrong tools to remove the exhaust timing pulleys chewing them up. He reused a timing belt that had an obvious crack evidenced by his timing marks he put on the used belt. These marks are required only to INSTALL a belt. So the old, previous, and cracked timing belt was obviously reused! The list and picture inventory of mistakes goes on and on.
I am a long time customer (since 2004) with a lot of patience. I am a quiet, reserved person that has difficulty with confrontations and I think he knew this. I gave him the benefit of the doubt many times and not once through this miserable ordeal did he give me a break on pricing for ANYTHING. When I last picked up my car when it was running I had a balance of $100 owed to me and he agreed to send it by mail to my home. It's been almost a year now, and after several reminders, I still haven't received it. In the grand scheme of things $100 is nothing but it goes to show you his character.
I paid $5200 for the rebuilt engine (this includes installation and tuning). I paid other tuners a total of $1000 to try to tune it to determine the issue (they could not). I paid $800 for a turbo upgrade from Garage Tuning that I didn’t need. I paid $400 for a front mount intercooler that I also didn’t need. I made numerous trips to his shop over this period costing almost $1500 in rental fees. Speaking of rental fees, often I’d call his shop asking when it would be ready for pick up and received no response (left voicemails). I’d find out days later that the repair (or his attempt to troubleshoot the issue) was taken care of in one afternoon two days ago yet NO one attempted to call me!
Simple repairs Garage Tuning can do. My advice to you is not to risk it. Those that like him and still go there just haven't yet been in a similar situation. By similar situation I mean, if everything goes ok with whatever work you are having done then of course it’s easy to see that it’s a good place to take your car. If you encounter an issue he has real difficulty with then he loses interest, loses the motivation to care about your car, and ultimately doesn’t care at all and the quality of work declines at a rapid rate. Once you do get in this situation... his true colors come out and then you'll understand.
Since posting elsewhere many others have e-mailed me with similar problems with Garage Tuning (and the list is growing. So many, that I should probably start a website). I liked Kevin as a friend and we often talked of family. I was hoping he would do the right thing at some point but I learned that it was all business with him. Even pretending to be your friend to keep your business.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/05/2013 02:18 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/garage-tuning/orange-california-92868/garage-tuning-i-was-taken-for-thousands-orange-california-1064673. 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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