My bad experience at Pep Boys and good one at Thompson

Mar 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Opinions

Zach Becker


I have some advice for those who need vehicle repairs; don’t go to Pep Boys (at least the one in Springfield). I took my wife’s car in their about a month-and-a-half ago and they never did fix the problem that they said they would (although they did work on lots of other expensive things).

Her Pontiac Sunfire is almost 10 years old and we’d been having starter problems, specifically an extended cranking problem. When it was cool outside, it would usually start okay, but when it was hot and had been sitting out for a while, it would have trouble starting.

I took it in there and had them analyze it and asked for an estimate. They told me the problem was the result of a series of problems with the car, and that they needed to replace the fuel filter, leaky gaskets, and spark plugs, I think. I’m not a mechanic (that’s why I took it to Pep Boys), so I trusted their opinion, even after I almost fainted when they told me it would cost about $900 to fix.

So, anyway, they did their repairs and I go to pay for it and pick it up. It worked fine, until the next day when it was warmer out and it wouldn’t start correctly again. Same problem, $900 poorer. But hey, they have a 90 day warranty, right?

Well, I took it back to them, talked to Rufus and he said they’d take care of it at no cost. (As a side note, Rufus was very nice and courteous through the whole situation even as I took it back to them several times. I can’t say the same for the other service guy I dealt with.)

They said they’d look at it, but then I didn’t hear back from them. Finally, about a week later I went back in to see what was going on. Well, they couldn’t replicate the problem, the service guy told me, insinuating I was crazy and had made it up.

Took it back home, same problem the next day. Took it back to Pep Boys again, they said they’d take care of it, and didn’t hear back from them. Called again, they said it starts fine and pretty much I’m crazy. Take it back home again… ad nauseum. The last time I called to see if they’d worked on it, I said who I was and the service guy said “oh yeah, the guy with the Sunfire that starts perfectly every time.” What an asshole.

So much for the 90 day warranty…

Finally, we just took it to the service garage down at Thompson Buick Pontiac GMC Cadillac Saab .

They checked it over, looked up the vin number and saw that Pontiac had issued a recall notice for this very problem which is with the starter wiring about 5 years ago. They replaced the wiring harness (which had started to melt in places) and also saw that the starter was only working at about 50 percent due to this problem.

After Thompson fixed those problems, it starts just fine.

As for Pep Boys, well, I’m never spending another cent there!

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  1. My experience with mechanics covers two places – Firestone on Sunshine and Andrew’s Custom Muffler on Enterprise.

    Firestone is good for covering a warranty. I know this because I had to get new tires and new bearings on my 01 Grand Prix last summer (at a different Firestone). When I moved down here, for some reason one of my sway bars broke, and there was other work in the front end that needed to be done. A few weeks later, the cable for my ABS system came out of the bearing and I assumed it was frayed through while they were working around it. I brought it back and they told me the bearings were under warranty so they replaced it at no charge.

    At Andrew’s, I basically had most of the cooling system replaced (manifold, radiator hoses, gaskets, thermostat) and a MAS sensor. It cost me, but when there I drove it away there was a squeek, and the next day the check engine light came back on. I drove it back and they worked on it a few minitues, solved the problem (which was very minor) and gave me a certificate for a free oil change for my troubles.

    Of course, this says more about how much my car sucks than how good those places are. In a little less than a year, I’ve poured about 3 grand into a 8 year old car that I bought for 4700. Jokes on me, I guess.