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Old 12-29-2017, 01:04 PM   #1
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I need help handling my mechanic

Hive mind, please help: My '99 base developed a klunky little rattle from the right front quarter when hitting small bumps. There was no decrease in performance but I worried about safety. Seemed like a non Porsche-specific issue so I took it to my old favorite mechanics. For $800 they replaced the right lower front suspension control arm and both front suspension stabilizer bar links. They showed me that the ball joints and connections in those pieces were a little loose. I drove the car away and the noise was still there, exactly as before, performance the same as before (just fine). So I took it back and they were able to determine there is about an eighth of an inch of play in the bushing or the bearing just beneath the strut plate. That will take another $400 to remedy when I'm ready.

They are telling me to come back and they will do whatever it takes to make me happy.

I want to tell them to eat the labor on the first job and the second, and that they should do the second repair for free. Maybe their markup on the parts will help cover them for this. Do I have a leg to stand on with this argument? They apparently made an erroneous diagnosis on the first repair, probably an honest mistake, but an expensive mistake for me. It could be that these parts were *almost* due to be replaced, but I can't be sure. I may be replacing the car soon, and that $800 control arm/stabilizer bar repair would have been an expense for the next owner to bear.

Do you think I can reasonably go to them and ask them to do the $400 repair for free, now that I paid for the unnecessary or premature $800 repair? Thanks!

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Old 12-29-2017, 01:49 PM   #2
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I would ask them what they propose to do for you first. I think free labor is reasonable seeing as they spent $800 of your money without fixing the initial problem.
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Old 12-29-2017, 01:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MikeMcMo View Post
Hive mind, please help: My '99 base developed a klunky little rattle from the right front quarter when hitting small bumps. There was no decrease in performance but I worried about safety. Seemed like a non Porsche-specific issue so I took it to my old favorite mechanics. For $800 they replaced the right lower front suspension control arm and both front suspension stabilizer bar links. They showed me that the ball joints and connections in those pieces were a little loose. I drove the car away and the noise was still there, exactly as before, performance the same as before (just fine). So I took it back and they were able to determine there is about an eighth of an inch of play in the bushing or the bearing just beneath the strut plate. That will take another $400 to remedy when I'm ready.

They are telling me to come back and they will do whatever it takes to make me happy.

I want to tell them to eat the labor on the first job and the second, and that they should do the second repair for free. Maybe their markup on the parts will help cover them for this. Do I have a leg to stand on with this argument? They apparently made an erroneous diagnosis on the first repair, probably an honest mistake, but an expensive mistake for me. It could be that these parts were *almost* due to be replaced, but I can't be sure. I may be replacing the car soon, and that $800 control arm/stabilizer bar repair would have been an expense for the next owner to bear.

Do you think I can reasonably go to them and ask them to do the $400 repair for free, now that I paid for the unnecessary or premature $800 repair? Thanks!
PM me. I make a living eating cheaters like that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No. I'm not an attorney. Better. I'll explain.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:00 PM   #4
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I think that almost everyone feels for you because we've all been in a similar situation at one time or another.

In this case, it seems that the lower suspension control arm and stabilizer bar links were indeed worn so they required replacement. Unfortunately, this didn't correct the problem.

But its not completely unforeseen in a repair to have to fix things as you go - sometimes a repair is like peeling an onion and there is a layer or two of things that needs to be legitimately addressed before getting to the one item that you want fixed.

With this being said, the best course of action is to have this discussion with the shop and calmly and nicely explain where you're coming from and ask if there is anything that they can do about the costs. Good on them for telling you to come back and they will do whatever it takes to me you happy.

You'll still probably have to put some add'l money towards the $400 repair but hopefully they can soften the hit to your pocket book.
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:22 PM   #5
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If you believe the mechanic is competent and honest, then you can believe the parts replaced needed it. If you don't believe the mechanic is competent and honest, get another mechanic.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:54 PM   #6
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When **************** like this arises it's best to hash it out before you fork over the $.
Like, Are you sure this is going to fix the issue? And if it doesn't what is your plan?
This will let you and the mechanic know up front what the expectations are.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeMcMo View Post
Hive mind, please help: My '99 base developed a klunky little rattle from the right front quarter when hitting small bumps. There was no decrease in performance but I worried about safety. Seemed like a non Porsche-specific issue so I took it to my old favorite mechanics. For $800 they replaced the right lower front suspension control arm and both front suspension stabilizer bar links. They showed me that the ball joints and connections in those pieces were a little loose. I drove the car away and the noise was still there, exactly as before, performance the same as before (just fine). So I took it back and they were able to determine there is about an eighth of an inch of play in the bushing or the bearing just beneath the strut plate. That will take another $400 to remedy when I'm ready.

They are telling me to come back and they will do whatever it takes to make me happy.

I want to tell them to eat the labor on the first job and the second, and that they should do the second repair for free. Maybe their markup on the parts will help cover them for this. Do I have a leg to stand on with this argument? They apparently made an erroneous diagnosis on the first repair, probably an honest mistake, but an expensive mistake for me. It could be that these parts were *almost* due to be replaced, but I can't be sure. I may be replacing the car soon, and that $800 control arm/stabilizer bar repair would have been an expense for the next owner to bear.

Do you think I can reasonably go to them and ask them to do the $400 repair for free, now that I paid for the unnecessary or premature $800 repair? Thanks!
So I take it by the above you took this to be repaired by a non Porsche mechanic that you like. I assume this was done to save money on labor charges. Unfortunately you gambled and lost. Maybe they can work with the labor if you take it back to them but I don't really feel they owe you anything. And really???
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:03 PM   #8
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I love how everyone assumes this guy is out to do you wrong. You said you trusted the guy, why would he all of a sudden F- you for a few bucks?

Hunting down “rattles and knocks” in ANY car is a crap shoot at best. Unless you can physically put your hand on something and make it clunk, one way or the other, it is very difficult to pinpoint. If you trust this mechanic, call it good that he found the items that needed work, now it’s phase two... troubleshooting. Had they sold you parts to replace those that were truly not worn (a 99 is going to have worn suspension parts) then that would be a discussion. It sounds like they are willing to work with you, so I’m not sure what they can do?

Here is a little story, I have a lifted Jeep Liberty that makes a distinct clunk upon braking that NO ONE can figure out. I have replaced basically the entire front end (needed it anyway) shocks etc. CV’s, wheels bearings have no sign of slop or play. Yet, it still clunks. Figuring out suspension (if its even a suspension issue) can be very hard. If I were you I would take a look at your steering components, often times these can be the source of noises.

While $$$ and frustrating, consider your new found front end tightness, which makes the car that much more fun!
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Old 12-30-2017, 12:49 AM   #9
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I love how everyone assumes this guy is out to do you wrong. You said you trusted the guy, why would he all of a sudden F- you for a few bucks?

Hunting down “rattles and knocks” in ANY car is a crap shoot at best. Unless you can physically put your hand on something and make it clunk, one way or the other, it is very difficult to pinpoint. If you trust this mechanic, call it good that he found the items that needed work, now it’s phase two... troubleshooting. Had they sold you parts to replace those that were truly not worn (a 99 is going to have worn suspension parts) then that would be a discussion. It sounds like they are willing to work with you, so I’m not sure what they can do?

Here is a little story, I have a lifted Jeep Liberty that makes a distinct clunk upon braking that NO ONE can figure out. I have replaced basically the entire front end (needed it anyway) shocks etc. CV’s, wheels bearings have no sign of slop or play. Yet, it still clunks. Figuring out suspension (if its even a suspension issue) can be very hard. If I were you I would take a look at your steering components, often times these can be the source of noises.

While $$$ and frustrating, consider your new found front end tightness, which makes the car that much more fun!
Did you replace the strut mounts? That once was a source of a clunk in a previously owned vehicle of mine.
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:44 AM   #10
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Is everything in the frunk tightened down? spare tire? Tools kit firmly wedged somewhere? Battery?
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:56 AM   #11
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Like thstone and Geof3 said, it's like peeling an onion and a crap shoot. There's a bunch of suspension pieces and convertible pieces that are notorious for rattling. These are 12-20 year old cars. They're going to rattle on rough roads. If your mechanic didn't find any obvious suspension problems, then you're probably safe to drive it. I suggest having a friend drive your car on a rough road while you try to narrow down where the noise is coming from.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:47 AM   #12
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Response to your responses

Hi everybody,

Thanks for your various responses, providing the right mix of wisdom, experience, and perspective.

Yes, everything in the frunk is cranked tight, battery included. Thanks for thinking of that- I only thought of it after an hour of driving time with the klunking, and worse than that, when the lightbulb went on, I remembered having left something loose in there and was psyched to remember that, then bummed to find out it had nothing to do with it.

The onion peeling/crapshoot is a good way to look at it. The mechanic described to me the process by which they determined there was play in the bushing or bearing at the top of the strut, by using a pry bar, exerting pressure, etc. They did that after the initial repair, without disassembling anything, which makes me think they could have also done that *before* the erroneous repair, but didn't.
I believe my mechanics are honest, but perhaps in this case they were hasty and made the wrong diagnosis. And I'm asking for help because they are busy busy busy and I only ever think of the best course of action and the best thing to say 2 days later. It seemed like a repair they could handle and the nearby Porsche dealers are known to be competent but way overpriced and would have probably elected to replace the entire front end, and the nearest indy is over an hour away. I don't know that the parts that were replaced were unduly worn at all. (I kept them in hopes of taking a metal sculpture class down the road, and meanwhile maybe a mechanic will drop out of the sky and tell me either they were fine or they were shot.) I don't know what they did before the erroneous repair to make them think these parts were the source of the rattle. The strut mounts don't appear to be the problem, but they will be right up in there for the proposed bearing/bushing replacement.

I take it as the price of admission that this car, any car, will require maintenance. I do not aspire to, and will not purport to having everything in this car in showroom condition, and the next owner will know that before putting money down, and will be told to expect to be paying for periodic maintenance. But hopefully not any unnecessary maintenance. So if these parts had another 5 years in them but were replaced prematurely, better that the owner in 2023 A.D. should have done that, not me.

Woody, know anybody small enough to ride in the frunk and listen? I guess I could take the frunk lid off while they sit there, to be reasonable. The mechanic is reasonably certain (this time) that it is the bearing/bushing under the strut plate. We'll see!
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:39 AM   #13
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You don’t have to ride in the frunk. Having a friend help can help narrow down where the noise is by sticking your heads pout the window. That will help determine if the noise is inside or outside and either the front or back. Four ears are better than two. If you notice the noise is inside, then the you can start feeling around the top area and see if you can find what part is rattling. If you find the noise is on the outside, then you can find what wheel is making the noise. Once you know what wheel, then you can investigate that area closer.
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:48 AM   #14
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If you believe the mechanic is competent and honest, then you can believe the parts replaced needed it. If you don't believe the mechanic is competent and honest, get another mechanic.
James is spot on. If you trust the mechanic, talk to him and see what he's willing to work out. If you both come to a mutual agreement, great. If not, it's time to walk away and go somewhere else.

Why? Well, you don't have a leg to stand on because you didn't ask for and get a guarantee. And without a guarantee, you're relationship with the mechanic is simply 'reasonable efforts," i.e, did the mechanics carry out his work as would similar mechanics would elsewhere. Nothing you say in your post suggests that the mechanic's work fell below that standard and was negligent. As such, don't have a right to demand money back or future price concessions.
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:51 AM   #15
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The mechanic is competent. You choose him presumably because he was cheaper and not for specific Porsche expertise.

Did he tell you anything like "if I replace x and Y, that will solve the problem"? Or was it more like "should solve".

He found things that needed replacing. Replacing them fixed problems for you. You saw that they did solve problems, right? You did discuss if the other side needed the same, right?

After he did, he found that those problems weren't the only problems there.

Solving a problem that is caused or could be caused by multiple items or masked by other multiple items is a bear. I made a living doing it in the software world. There are many times I'd find a problem but it wasn't THE problem and it took another pass through things to find the next problem and only then maybe ...

You and your car will have profited by the initial parts replacement. If you don't believe that, go elsewhere.

If not, then try to get a better understanding of what happens next and who pays. Nicely.

It is a 18 year old car....and diagnosis even at a dealers or an experts shop is not a first time every time task.

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Old 12-30-2017, 02:55 PM   #16
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I am a mechanic and work in a shop. I have quit and walked out of shop who were all out to sell you a bunch of parts, which were usually needed, but did not address the issue that the car came in for. Let me tell you how any shop and I myself operate.
#1. Safety. Even if a car is in for something like an oil change we do a quick inspection and look at the condition of the brakes, steering and suspension components such as ball joints, tie rods, major oil or trans leaks etc.. If a tie rod has play, ball joint has play, brakes are down to nothing or a line or caliper is leaking we are going to tell you as it is required by law and I would not let anyone drive an unsafe car like that down the road at least not without being aware of the danger. This can be accomplished in mere minutes while the oil is draining if you have done it 1000s of times like I have.
#2. Address the customer's concern. Fix what the car is there for. If a car has no major safety issues I am not going to recommend you fix a slight oil leak or replace a worn strut when you are there for a knocking noise or having a window fixed etc.. Our shop policy is that if, in your case, a car is making a specific noise that is the complaint and we do not see it immediately during our quick free inspection we ask for additional diagnosis time which can cost $99-299 depending on how much we have to drive the car or disassemble to isolate the problem. Normally that charge will be applied to the cost of the repair if you chose for us to repair it. That charge is there so that we don't spend hours diagnosing your car and you take it home and replace a component yourself or go somewhere else while we did all the leg work. Any shop recommending a few hundred $ worth of work or in your case 800, should've isolated the source of the noise and then recommended the other worn components be replaced. Suspensions are not so complicated like some internal engine problems where we need to do a tear down before we can tell you how bad it is. Suspensions and noises are fairly easy to test, diagnose and isolate with not much more than a pry bar, hoist and some hoist jacks to load and unload components.
As far as recourse, you don't have much. Typically shops will state on your estimate that they are replacing worn components that need to be done and do not say anything like we warranty that the noise you are talking about will go away. You didn't waste your money, a 20 year old car should have nearly every bushing replaced even if it has no miles as rubber just doesn't hold up all that well.
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:59 PM   #17
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I've discovered while refreshing the suspension on my 924 that there are tons of places that can cause clunks, thuds, creaks, etc. I had a clunk that happened every time I backed out of my driveway, and a very similar-sounding clunk when turning. The turn clunk turned out to be tie rods, and the driveway clunk ended up being shocks.

So yeah, you very well could be having multiple things going on. If they found squishy bushings on your control arm, its probably good that they replaced them.
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:40 PM   #18
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Did you replace the strut mounts? That once was a source of a clunk in a previously owned vehicle of mine.
Yep, and in the Jeep’s case even the upper and lower control arms, sway bar links, shocks/Springs etc etc. I do most of my own work, but have had this problem looked at a couple of times. It truly is baffling. Could be almost anything.

To the OP, shocks/struts/suspension are wear items and need to be replaced. Porsche’s tend to be a little harder (Boxsters particularly) on suspension parts due to the camber generally run for good handling, especially if set up with any kind of track oriented alignment, or running wider wheels/tires. Kind of part of the game in the sports car world. Another thing to look at are your fender bolts and any and all bolted in items in the frunk. Generally a suspension won’t “rattle”. Tap on your right front wheel center cap... it might be loose. You would be amazed at how funky that can sound.
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Old 12-31-2017, 06:12 AM   #19
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So you can’t figure out or fix the problem yourself. Many can’t. Now you’re at someone else’s mercy and honesty.

It’s a best guess scenario. I do complicated boilers for a living and when there’s a noise or loss of heat they rely on my diagnostics but on a car you can’t hook up testers to suspension. You’d have to rely on seeing obvious issues that may cause the issue. It’s not reasonable to disassemble the entire front end to check every part. I don’t find their approach to be unethical or unreasonable at all.

Bigger issue. If $400-800 is a deal breaker or burden you own the wrong brand car, period. When I listed my car I went out of my way to list all known issues. Your ad would read “fixed audible issues but had worn control arms and ball joints reinstalled for you to deal with...enjoy!”

I always laugh when i read these “a mechanic I trusted previously who is not a Porsche mechanic but I used them to save money took his best guess on my mystery noise, fixed obvious problems, noise is still there, and now I don’t want to pay and am getting screwed and can’t afford this..” threads.
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:53 AM   #20
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My biggest issue with the fix was that they didn't test drive it enough to know they didn't fix the problem. THEY made a few guesses and replaced parts that "probably" should have been replaced. Now you are 800$ in the hole with a clunk still...

I would negotiate the labor on the old job down, you do have new parts that were "probably needed" in your car but it didn't solve the problem. I see you have 2 options now; buy the new part and they install it for free. Upper strut bearings go for about 100$ (quick check) so you can save some 300$ overall.

Or. he puts in the new part and if it doesn't fix the issue, he takes it out and deals with returning it, if it doesn't solve the problem. No charge to you.

He must work harder to diagnose the issue and not just throw parts at the problem.

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