As some of you may recall, I found a hydraulic repair shop here in Houston that said that they would be able to rebuild the EDCIII shocks. I spoke with the shop owner twice to go over the type of shocks I had and some of the details and unique features. Granted, I only really knew the specifics of the rear shock bodies since I had seen pics of them from several posts on here and Garcia posted some pics of a rear EDC shock taken apart. I told the shop guy that these were twin-tube fluid shocks with a pair of solenoid valves on the outer shell to regulate hydraulic fluid flow. He assured me that this would be no problem as he had a computerized test stand to test the valve function. Having roughly outlined the scope of the repair (complete tear down and rebuild of the shock with new seals and testing of valve function), he said the price should be about half the price of new EDC shocks.
So at the end of November I dropped my car off at my mechanic's shop for
- EDCIII revamp (rebuilt shocks/struts, new rear accumulators, new springs, new bump stops and new spring pads)
- single-mass flywheel conversion
- Sachs Power Clutch upgrade
- UUC DSSR install
- eliminate steering kickback during cornering (probably related to dead front struts)
- replace central door lock accuator and fuse
- faulty oil level sensor
- A/C condenser occasionally leaking onto my right foot
- Roll rear fenders
My mechanic got the shocks off and the hydraulic shop guy picked them up the first week of December. The hydraulic guy had quoted a 4-5 day turnaround. On Dec. 10 the hydraulic guy calls me to tell me that the work was complete and to arrange for payment. I told him to send the shocks directly to my mechanic's shop. He sent his son-in-law to meet me at a local Starbucks that night to pick up the payment. Total price: $1290.03. While we were making the transaction I quized the SIL about the repair. It turned out the SIL had actually done the rebuild and that it was harder than he had expected. He had to make a custom seal kit and he had to replace a sensor on one of the shocks. When I asked how he was able to get the sensor, he said he contacted Boge directly and got a blueprint of the shocks which had part number for the individual components. (This should have been a red flag
, but it didn't occur to me at the time). However, he assured me that the work was done and that the shocks were fully tested and good to go.
I left for vacation the next Tuesday, which was the day the hydraulic guy returned the shocks to my mechanic. When I got off the plane in Atlanta that night, I had a voicemail on my cell from my mechanic. He was ranting and raving at me about how the hydraulic guys were a bunch of sh*theads, that I had been screwed over and that I needed to call him back right away. Obviously disturbed by this development, I called my mechanic back the next morning to find out what was going on. He told me that the shocks were returned in the same condition that they were when he took them off the car. In fact, the wire for the valve acctuator on one of the front shocks was severed and the hydraulic guy had the nerve to return the severed wire as if nothing was wrong! My mechanic had also given the hydraulic guy two of his own busted air wrenches to be rebuilt. The guy wanted to charge him ~$1400 to repair what was a $300 part brand new. Worse yet, it didn't look like he had even bothered to open the wrenches housing to look at the internals, let alone rebuild it. My mechanic refused to accept any of it and kicked the guy out of the shop.
I called the hydraulic shop owner to find out what was going on. It was at this point that I found out that he hadn't even looked at the shocks yet. He said that my mechanic had no idea what he was talking about and he
was the hydraulic specialist and knew that my shocks were "perfect." He contended that my mechanic was just pissed at the price quote for the repair of his air tools and he was taking out his anger on them by saying the shocks were bad. Now I trust my mechanic and his shop is a sponsor of the local chapter of the BMWCCA, so I was pretty sure he wasn't BSing me. Hydraulic guy said that he would talk to my mechanic and fix the situation. When I got back from Las Vegas a week later, I called the hydraulic guy to see what was up. He said he still hadn't gotten the shocks back from his SIL and that he would call me later that week when he had evaluated them. I ended up having to call him to get an update. Mind you, we are now into the first week of January, 2005. He conceded that his SIL had botched the repair and that the fronts needed a fair amount of work. He said he would take care of the situation and make things right. Famous last words if I ever heard them. Like a sap, I agreed to this.
He had spoken with another guy he works with who apparently was familiar with this type of shock and rebuilt this sort of stuff all the time. Now here is where I actually learned some pertinent information. The front struts had internal N2 bladders (as opposed to the rears where the N2 bladders are external - the accumulators) that needed to be fixed. The N2 guy apparently evaluated the struts and determined that the front right strut's bladder was shot and needed to be replaced. The front left strut's bladder was okay, but needed to be recharged. Through similar cloak-and-dagger contacts with Boge, the N2 guy would be able to get the new bladder and he had facilities to recharge the bladders. The hydraulic guy at first had the nerve to quote me prices for the parts and recharging (~$250 all told). I told him he was eating that cost.
Over the next four weeks I got nothing but lies, excuses and delays from hydraulic guy. Remember that, during this time, my car has been stranded on a lift at my mechanic's shop. My mechanic and the shop owner were calling me regualrly warning me that my car was about to be moved by forklift (it eventually was
). When I had had enough, I told the hydraulic guy that I was going to report him to the Better Business Bureau if he didn't fix the shocks. He called me back freaking out and yelling at me. He gave me some sob story about how he was taking personal time to fix my situation and that he was giving up time with his family on the weekend and that he didn't appreciate being threatened etc. As if I
was the one being unreasonable.
I was about to tell him to go f*ck himself
, but I kept it civil. He gave me a garuntee that he would have the shocks ready that coming Monday. At that time I was trying hard to keep from losing control, so I agreed (again, like a sap
). That Tuesday I called him and hydraulic guy finally admitted defeat - the front right strut couldn't be fixed as the N2 bladder wouldn't hold pressure. He had taken it to several other "specialists" and they had no luck. However, he assured me that the other three were okay. Now this leaves me in a bit of a pickle since the shocks need to be replaced in pairs. At that point I just said 'f*ck this sh*t' and broke down and bought a brand new set of EDCIII shocks ($2790 from BMA Autoparts
Now things get interesting. I got the shocks back from the guy and was supposed to get a refund for the one busted strut. However, by this point hydraulic guy had disavowed any professional association with his SIL and said that I would have to work out the money with the SIL on my own. The SIL's phone number that I had is now out of service and hydraulic guy is unwilling to help me contact him. At this point I contacted a lawyer I know and got some very good advice. I am currently drafting a letter of intent to sue both hydraulic guy and the SIL for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The nice thing is that the DTPA allows for restitution of up to three times the amount of the claimed damages (cost of the repair + loss of use (parking spot fees for the duration + my insurance payments for the duration)). The bad thing is that I have to wait 60 days from receipt of the intent letter before I procede to small claims court. The intent of the letter, however, is to force them to settle under threat of significant $$$ damages. I'd rather not have to go to court due to the hassel. This is now about the principle rather than the money. Oh, and where is my car? Still
at my mechanic's shop sitting in a corner on jack stands. I hope to get it back in the next two weeks. *sigh*
Sorry for the epic post, but I had to vent. Lessons learned? A few:
- Don't bother trying to save money when working on your car as you are quite likely to get F'd in the A like a B.
- Don't be a wimp when getting F'd in the A. The reason this went on for so long is that I'm not a confrontational person and I think I subconsciously was hoping that the situation would take care of itself. WRONG!
The hydraulic shop in question is Equipment Service Company
in Houston, Tx. AVOID THESE WORTHLESS SOBs LIKE THE FRIGGIN PLAGUE!!