Taking Your Car to a Shop?

From Jerry,

Are you taking your car to a shop? Read this first.

We have the pleasure of selling to a number of reputable shops that have long-established expertise working on Italian cars. Sadly, not all shops fall in this category.

Getting any modern car repaired correctly can be a challenge these days. With overall repair work down over the past few years, most shops are on a very tight budget. The challenge is even greater, of course, when trying to get your vintage Italian car repaired quickly. Expertise in repairing Italian cars was almost non existent in most shops even 30 or so years ago, when your car was new. Certainly, it’s much less available since most shops haven’t seen an Italian car in their service bay in many, many years.

Many shops do not have experienced mechanics to diagnose or repair your car. In fact, most do not even have a factory shop manual at their disposal.

So our first recommendation in taking your car to a shop is to provide them your Fiat 124 Factory Shop Manual or Fiat X1/9 Factory Shop Manual. Don’t confuse a Chilton, Clymer, or Haynes manual with the factory shop manual. The factory manual is far more thorough, accurate, and is often considerably easier to understand.

If you don’t have one, get one!

See the “Manuals” section of our catalogs or type “manual” in the search window of our online store to find them. And never rely on dubious Internet message board advice. It isn’t “free” if it costs you time, money, and frustration in unnecessary repairs.


Here’s a story that might shed light on what some of our customers encounter when they take a car to the shop. Many of you know Matt. You will very often hear his voice when you give us a call. Matt recently got a parts order from a long-time customer who was planning to take the his special car plus the parts ordered to a shop he trusted. A couple of days later Matt got a call from a shop pricing the same exact parts Matt had previously sold to our customer. Hmmm…

Maybe you have guessed what happened next. Sure enough, our customer called a few days later to ask Matt about returning most of the parts we had supplied because his shop told him they wouldn’t fit. He also told Matt his shop had found proper replacement parts. You can imagine the shock when Matt confirmed the shop that had phoned us was indeed the same shop our customer was using and that the shop was ordering the same parts from us. Why would a shop do this? It is because the shop wanted to make additional money selling parts to the customer. No doubt when billing the customer, the shop would have informed our customer the proper parts were available but only at a premium cost. How do we know this? Because we see this ugly scenario played out several times a year.

Here is a helpful hint: Don’t go to the cheapest mechanic you can find. As a general rule, you get what you pay for. And sometimes that low dollar bid becomes a high dollar headache or you!

Here is another true story. Recently we sold a rebuilt transmission to a customer, who after paying a shop to have it installed, informed us the unit was impossible to shift. After consultation, we instructed the customer to send us the transmission for inspection. Andy, our mechanic, was stunned to find many of the components destroyed. The conclusion was simple: The transmission had been run dry. That’s right. The shop failed to fill it with the GL1 gear oil that was supplied with the unit. It had been run without the benefit of lubrication. It was also discovered a number of other components sold to the customer and delivered to the customer’s shop were not installed. To this day the whereabouts of these additional parts is unknown to anyone except those working at the shop.


Here is a helpful hint: require your shop to do like our shop, and other reputable shops do. All removed parts should be kept and presented to the customer upon completion of the work. Here is an example: If the water pump was supposed to have been replaced, there should be a dingy, used one in the box of discarded parts.

Another issue is diagnosis. This is an issue as old as the auto repair business. Out of a lack of knowledge or out of frustration, some shops believe in what we call “throwing parts at the problem”. This last summer a customer took his car to a shop because his brakes were failing. New hoses, calipers and a master cylinder were all installed. Still the brakes were failing. The customer used our tech line to call us to ask if we had an idea what was wrong. In the course of asking questions we inquired if there were any puddles under the car. He answered ’yes’, there was a constant puddle on his garage floor under the center of the car. We diagnosed over the phone what any mechanic should have easily seen when looking at the car on a rack: a worn out, leaky brake compensator was the problem. Of course, the customer paid the shop as the work progressed, every unnecessary step of the way.

Other problems many shops often misdiagnose are electrical in nature, such as those relating to ignition switches and fuel pumps.

Again, we have the pleasure of selling to a number of reputable shops that have long-established expertise working on Italian cars, and can give recommendations local to you if you give us a call. Please be cautious when finding a shop and use common sense when dealing with them.


Leave a Comment

Shopping Cart