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Today's work reinforced my conviction that it's almost always a good thing to fix anything that you can (even if it stretches your boundaries, and takes longer than it would a pro). The car in question was my son's Subaru (an '04 Forester XT turbo AWD small SUV). I normally work on it when I'm in the area (Texas) but his wife and our two granddaughters were getting ready to take a trip and it had a couple issues, so she found a local garage and took it in. They replaced the right front CV axle and the left lower ball joint and "fixed" a transmission leak (apparently by dropping the tranny pan and RTVing it instead of using a gasket).

The things that they did wrong...
1) They stripped the threads on the left ball joint lower bolt, which separated while they were driving (destroying any cotter pin that was installed, if there was one). Thank God, at a slow speed and locally, as the left front wheel no longer pointed in the right direction...
2) The shop agreed to fix their mistake and replaced the ball joint. They also "repaired" the CV axle that was pulled apart by putting a nylon zip tie around the inner boot (which of course, leaked all the grease out all over the chassis, and spun).
3) I chased down the ACTUAL source of the leak, which was the right front axle seal, which they had buggered up installing the new axle, apparently (a big chunk of it was chewed off - no way that happened in operation).
4) Getting ready to pull the axle, I discovered they didn't dimple the keeper on the axle nut, so it could have come loose (apparently this shop doesn't believe a car really needs all its wheels attached).
5) Then I find that the right lower ball joint lower castle nut is no more than finger tight.
6) And THEN find that the pinch bolt that holds the same ball joint in place is loose enough that the entire thing works its way halfway out of the housing by the time I get the lower bolt loose (the notch in the housing that's captured by the pinch bolt kept it from coming entirely out). Really??!!
7) And checking the tranny fluid level, I see that it's hugely overfilled (though still seems to shift fine).

So after about $20 in parts (as well as a new breaker bar and 32mm socket from Harbor Freight), and a couple hours, the car is now back together and working like it should (and not leaking all over their driveway). Sometimes the mechanic who's working on your car doesn't think of it as anything but an obstacle that's keeping him from doing something else he'd rather be doing, instead of an important tool you use to live your life (and to protect those you love). When you work on your own car, you might not know as much as some mechanics, but you're certainly going to care more about the quality of the repair (even than a really diligent, top-notch mechanic). After all, it's YOUR car, and it's used to carry people you care about.

This was one of the worst examples I've seen, but it does seem that very often I end up having to re-do something that a shop did. There are a host of great resources out there that will show you much of what you need to know to do most repairs to your car, and most people know someone who'd be willing to help do a repair they might be hesitant to approach solo. Twist those wrenches, get to know your car, and you'll be much more in control of your automotive destiny (and hey, you'll save a boatload of money over the years, too!).

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WOW! I hope they are going to be getting a refund from the "pro" that did that "work".

I'm all for DIY - I've certainly made mistakes along the way but I know who to blame those on...and I've learned from them and don't mind helping close friends and family. Helped a friend with a Jeep install a lift kit, changed a steering rack in an older Ford Escort..all sorts of stuff I never thought I could do. Even did the timing belt change on my new to me MDX along with water pump, pulleys, thermostat, radiator and more.

I ended up going the DIY route when I noticed how poorly and rushed the repair facility performed their work - missing screws from the center console, torn shifter boot that wasn't torn before, visible markings on the dash trim when they took it apart (this was all on a Dodge Durango) and of course, when I pointed all that out they fell back on their canned response "for all we know it was like that when you brought it in" - from that day forward I decided I'm going to tackle what I could and have being doing so ever since.

Glad your son's family made out ok in that...could have been much worse for sure.
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