One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a car owner is to think that people who drive the same car as you, or feel passionately about the same car, are the same sort of person in someway as you are. Well they're not. I found out the hard way that placing your trust in a so called enthusiast/specialist leads to nothing but frustration, anger and disappointment.
The sorry story begins towards the end of 2007 when my long term partner and I went our separate ways. I had slowly been acquiring bits and pieces for my Zed from here in Australia and from the US with a date in my mind where I would take it to someone here in Brisbane who appeared to be knowledgable about Z32's, and after reading through the aus300zx forum I had decided upon amec auto care at Coopooroo. There were no votes of confidence or recommendations on the website but it appeared they were the only ones who specialized in my type of car. (If only the alarm bells had gone off then!!).
Anyway, all my plans of getting the Zed done were thrown into chaos by the breakdown in my relationship and I decided to put it all on hold and go and visit a friend on the Sunshine coast to try and unwind.
I took off in the Zed which at this stage was pissing me off a bit because it kept on clunking during gear changes and leaking gallons of power steering fluid. (I knew it was the worn upper and lower diff carrier bushes that were creating the clunk and so I had bought a master bushing kit and the power steering fluid leak was due to a split in a high pressure hose. But I digress, sorry on the way to the Sunshine coast my battery light suddenly came on. I immediately pulled off the road and checked what had happened. One of my drive belts had shredded itself and then wrapped around the other belts, pulling them all into the thermo fan. Bugger. But nothing major so I called a tow truck and decided there and then to get the Zed taken to Amec auto and bite the bullet and get them to replace the belts and fit the various items I had been collecting for the big day.
After several hours I finally arrived at Amec with my Zed on the tow truck. It was a Sunday afternoon so I didn't expect anyone to be there. What I had forgotten was that there was no where secure to leave it, so I parked it directly around the first side street and hoped it would be ok till the following morning. $200 later I finally made it to my brothers place. I gathered up all the parts and set the alarm in preparation to ring Amec first thing and get them to retrieve the car from around the corner.
After a sleepless night, morning finally arrived, and it was then that I first started to question my decision. I rang Peter Walsh up and described the situation to him and said I would be in as soon as possible to drop off the other parts. He was rude and surly but, at least he was going to help me. Or so I thought. I waited nearly an hour for him to call back and his first words were
It's not there. I nearly shit myself.
What, you mean its stolen?
Nu, its on a truck isn't it?
No, it's the first car parked on the kerb as you go round the corner I repeated.
I thought to myself, the only black 300zx with my rego in the street, you knob. Right, I'll have a look when I get a chance
He didn't bother ringing me back to let me know they had found it. Just another surly call hours later to say it was ready to be picked up. I reminded him of our earlier conversation where I had described the numerous other jobs I'd like them to do. He reluctantly agreed to do the work and I stupidly thanked him before heading over in a borrowed car to deliver the parts.
I arrived at Amec and met someone completely different to the unpleasant person I had been speaking to on the phone. It's kind of creepy in hindsight how greasy and willing to please he was, although another warning sign I missed was how little he seemed to know about Zeds in general. In nutting out what I wanted done I got a lot of blank looks, for example he didn't really understand what I meant by port matching the exhaust manifold or what it means to do an EGR bypass. Fk. If only I'd seen the signs then. Anyway I described the frustration at not having had the time to get all this done earlier and even shared a joke about needing double jointed wrists to work on the engine, which again I dont think he quite understood.
What he did understand however was that he had a captive audience. He knew I had money to spend on the Zed and he was going to get as much out of me for the least amount of effort.
He started by sneering at the list of things that I wanted done (which included port matching and bypassing the EGR) and insisting that they weren't necessary.
What you need done are the cam seals, I noticed that they're leaking something I assumed he had noticed when replacing the drive belts. I took his word for it at that stage. He also said I needed the rear ball joints replaced and even talked me into having the rear upper arms replaced with a set of Tuneagent upper arms. Nave I hear you say? Too fking right. He obviously needed to get rid of them and lied about them being on special to rope me in. I eventually got him to tally up what it would cost to do the following jobs on my car plus the cam seals, rear ball joints and Tuneagents.
Install engine harness(provided)
Install diff carrier upper and lower bushes(provided)
Install steering rack bushes (provided)
Install front sway bar bushes(provided)
Install engine mounts(provided)
Install Iridium plugs(provided)
Replace boots on steering rack
Change faulty O2 sensors( provided)
Check coil packs
Reset idle and Throttle Position Sensor
Fix power steering leak
PCV valve bypass oil catch tank
Front Brake Pads replace
He came up with an astounding quote of $5800!!
Holy shit! I could have almost bought a cheap imported Zed for that. I noticed the little smirk on his face again. He knew he had me. I started the painful process of slashing the list down to the bear essentials, keeping in mind the things he (as the specialist) felt were necessary.
Again. Fk! If only I'd seen this guy was a lying con artist. The smirking, sneering attitude on its own should have alerted me to this swindler but I was blinded for reasons that I still don't understand. I guess in someway I was giving him the benefit of the doubt with the expectation that no matter how weird this guy is, he'll do a good job. I've lived and worked in a host of asian countries and have been ripped off on a few occasions, but I guess I never expected that kind of underhanded behaviour from a fellow Aussie and a supposed Zed enthusiast!
But getting back to it, I finally cut the list down to the following
Replace alternator, A/C, powersteering belts ($170)
Compression test motor $85 labour
Replace wiring harness (provided) $650 labour
Replace spark plugs (provided) $40 labour
Replace O2 sensors (provided) $40 labour
Replace rear ball joints $40 labour/$100 parts
Install Tuneagent rear upper arms (on special)$250 installed
Replace upper and lower diff carrier bushes (provided)$200
Replace RHF lower control arm bush (provided) $40 labour
Replace anti roll bar bushes (provided) $40 labour
Replace cam seals $600 parts & labour
Repair powersteering leak $120 parts & labour
Scan for error codes $60
Adjust idle/TPS $80
Replace FPCU $80 (According to Peter they had one they could sell me for $80 installed)
Somewhere around the $2500 mark was what I was aiming for and I unfortunately told Peter that too. Doh! Its then that I left for my long awaited R&R on the North Coast. I actually overstayed, giving Amec an extra three days on top of the agreed four, to do the work.
When I went to pick the car up it was all systems go. I had a borrowed car which had to meet its owners at the airport and then drop me off back at Amec and then I had to rush to beat the traffic on my way to Toowoomba to see my son. (Sorry about the long sentence)I had called Peter in advance letting him know that I would be late. He turned on the charm and said it was no problem because he was working back anyway.When I got there he was slightly furtive but still doing his best to be amiable. He informed me that the car had been test driven and they had not felt the need to adjust the idle or TPS, but for some strange reason this appears on the job description (which Ill get to later). While hurriedly looking through the invoice I noticed that I had also been charged nearly $150 for a set of spark plugs that I had provided. Too quickly, Peter agreed to give me a credit. He also gave me back the many(unknown to me at the time) uninstalled bushes along with the O2 sensors I had provided which indicated that the job of replacing them had not occurred either.(It didnt occur to me either. Bugger) It wasnt until much later in the piece that I noticed that the cam seal replacement job had been logged in the job description as repair oil leak from front of motor ($600) followed much later by the mechanics report saying need to return to reveal oil leaks,which indicates again that I was swindled by this lowlife.
Seeing that I was in a rush Peter waffled on about Looking after me because I spent so much money and that he would do me a cheap knock sensor job, give me credit, name his first baby after me, blah blah. I unwisely signed off on the bill and quickly headed off to try and avoid the traffic. This is when I noticed the HICAS light on and assumed incorrectly that the float in the reservoir was stuck. As you can guess, another job had not been done. While driving to Toowoomba Peter rang me and informed me somewhat late, that the steering, front and rear, would need an alignment and that it was unsafe to drive. I still didn't smell the rat. Doh! As I got closer to Toowoomba I started hearing some strange noises and religiously watched the temperature. It was as I pulled in to Tbar that a loud noise from the valve train suddenly became very obvious. I immediately switched off the motor and allowed 15 minutes for the oil to drain to the sump. To my horror the dipstick did not register any oil at all. I quickly checked the powersteering reservoir and it was empty. Then to cap it off I noticed green radiator fluid splattered all over the motor. The radiator had lost nearly half its fluid. Again. Fk! He hadn't put the radiator hoses on correctly. He had somehow drained the bulk of the motor oil, and he hadnt touched the powersteering! The alarm bells were now ringing very loudly. I quickly set up a power lead and light and discovered the following mess.
Plastic caps missing from brand new coil pack plugs. All OEM grounding wires loose. Horn/driving light wiring disconnected and shoved down behind battery.
After market grounding wire loom disconnected and shoved down side of battery.
TPS plug wires severed and copper exposed. Engine harness connectors detached from brackets. Coil packs covered in a thick coating of oil/grime indicating they had not been removed for spark plug replacement at all.
I refilled the radiator and went to bleed off any air only to find the air bleeding plug on my brand new radiator had been stripped out.
I replaced nearly 3 litres of motor oil before it showed up on the dip stick!
Needless to say, I had a bad night. The following morning I rang them up and they actually had the gaul to blame it on me for daring to drive my car 150k to Tmba. After some sturn words about the plethora of fuk ups the turkey I spoke to (not Peter)admitted that they had not checked any of the fluid levels before releasing the car. He reluctantly said they'd take a look at it, but not before repeating the crap about driving to Tbar probably being the cause of all my problems. The penny had dropped, I was dealing with con men. I limped back to Brisbane, with the valve noise even louder despite the fresh oil. I was now really pissed off and thought it wise to cover my butt by taking my video camera along. Well, what a performance. Peter was suddenly very concerned with the crap job they'd done (and the numerous jobs they hadn't done) and fell over himself promising to fix it all up within 3 days. He swore that he had a super oil that would cure the noise in the valve train and said that he would immediately get started. I left feeling less than confident but believing he would stand by his word and make amends. I had to hire a car for a few days, but didn't mind if it all ended happily.
A week later(yes I gave them 4 extra days) I rang to see how it was all going. His first words to me were oh right, yeah we're about to take a look at it to which I said are you fking joking to which he quickly replied actually mate you can come and get your car and fuk off.
I wont repeat what I said but you can imagine I was very unhappy. Actually I would say murderous, but I knew kicking the shit out of this creep would be playing into his hand. So I set off again with the video camera to try and document what sort of arsehole this guy really was. Seeing I had returned the rental car I had to call upon my ex girlfriend to drive me there. She's a tough negotiater having run several businesses, and I was glad to have her along. One, because she new what had gone down, two, because she new how to grill people, and three, to stop me decking the prick.
When we got there, the ferret was hiding out the back. He told me he wasn't going to speak to me and to get out of there. When it came to crunch time and he had to come up with an excuse he said somewhat unconvincingly that the engine harness had taken longer than expected to install and thus all the other jobs had been neglected. That was it! He hadn't even been honest enough to contact me and let me know that they were having trouble installing it and that they would need to charge me extra. As you'll see on the video he had NEVER installed an engine wiring harness! The Zed specialists my hairy arse. You'll also see the arrogance of this fukwit when he turns to camera and smugly says I can't be bothered with you, I have to attend to a paying customer. I nearly lost it there and then, but I hung on and recorded the turd in action. He began threatening to ring the police to which I said go ahead. The wanker actually rang 000 and as you'll see in the video, the operator tore him a new arsehole for misusing an emergency number. The pathetic excuses and denials of responsibility continued on until I finally thought I had enough evidence to bring the fuker down. His final words, directed to my ex after I had left the office with the video, were So what, the jobs we didn't do only add up to five hundred bucks or so. Wrong Pete. To repair the damaged bearings in the motor alone has been quoted at $2000 . The jobs not done comes close to $1000. Why not sue him you say? The judgements issued in small claims court aren't worth the paper they're written on. So how do I get satisfaction? I don't. I just hope that at least one unsuspecting Zed owner reads this and gives Amecautocare a very, very wide berth.