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A Corvette Engine Repair Story in Denver

Hi there, this is Saul here, at Saul’s AUTOTEK, and today we’re gonna talk to you about this 1994 Chevy Corvette. We typically see Corvettes of all different vintages here at Saul’s.

All the way back to 1966, all the way up to 2017s, and even newer. This Denver Corvette vehicle came to us, and it had just been driven across the country. It had overheated severely and was in need of some pretty substantial repairs. Now, this is kind of an interesting story, but we really want you to understand how we really try and help you, the owner, in every way possible.

When this Corvette vehicle came to us, it had been overheated to the point where we knew that the engine was damaged. We could see that the markers on the side of it had melted off, and we knew major engine repairs were gonna be required. However, the owner of the vehicle had previously had a water pump and cooling system related repair done by another facility that operates in the same network that we do for warranty participation coverage. As a warranty repair shop, to honor that shop’s warranty we disassembled, replaced all the componentry that they originally installed that had failed. That in this case, they had installed a used engine, and then put a brand new water pump, a brand new thermostat, and a few other components on it.

Unfortunately, their water pump failed and led to that used engine they installed failing as well. Now in the state of Colorado, we have very specific laws about damages to vehicles, saying can somebody be sued for X, Y, or Z, and how much, and how much beyond. The state of Colorado dictates that you can’t sue a repair shop if they do damage to your vehicle by let’s say changing the oil, and the engine failing. You can only sue them for the cost of the oil change. Not for that engine that costs thousands of dollars. That’s really worrisome. And as an owner, you have to make sure you really take care of your guests.

In the case of this circumstance, the shop in Southern California, Outwest Auto, who did the original repair, they put a junkyard engine in this car. They charged the owner over $5,000, and they literally put a junkyard $500 engine that had been sitting for 20 years into it, put a pump on it, put a thermostat in it. Send it on the way, completely untested. We were able to prove it hadn’t been tested when we saw the vehicle come through service, and see that the original seals that they had just installed were all unseated and leaking. They would have caught this immediately had they tested the vehicle in their own facility.

However, the owner, unbeknownst to have any mechanical knowledge drove the vehicle, and because no gauges indicated any issues, and never had a mechanical failure otherwise, didn’t know that the vehicle was getting hot, and overheated, which then caused that junkyard motor they installed to fail. When this vehicle came in, we replaced the water pump, the thermostat, and the necessary components. We tested the vehicle to prove that the engine was indeed failed, and then we called our owner and let him know. He didn’t owe us one cent. We knew that everything we had done had been covered by the other repair facility and that we were gonna contact that other facility and find out what happened.

Through our own diligence, and research we found out that, that other facility put that junkyard motor in. They didn’t even stamp the mileage on it. They didn’t do a compression test or leak down test on it. They bought it from a neighbor facility, that the owner of that shop is related to. There might be some mouth going on there. When they installed that engine, no seals were replaced externally. All they did was put that new pump on the front of it, and send it out. Many oil seals were leaking from it, and it was over two and a half quarts low on oil as well, as having the major coolant out of it as well.

When we figured out that they had used this engine, we started doing research of our own into the business, and how we could best help them. And that’s when we talked with our owner, and said, “You know what, I really think we have a case here.” We worked with them, with their creditors, and with the state of California Court System to get them a 100% refund on the entire repair. They spent over $5,000, and they were made completely whole. Now the vehicle still needs an engine, and that’s unfortunate.

The real unfortunate part is that they were charged over $5,000 for a junkyard engine. Our repair estimate to put a brand new engine from General Motors into it was only $700 more. The vehicle has been sitting here for close to eight months through this process, while we’ve been trying to figure out what’s gonna go on, how we can best help, and how we can keep them rolling. Now we don’t charge any diagnostic, or inspection fee. We don’t charge any storage fee. We don’t charge any fee for investigating with the other shop, and finding out what happened, and figuring out where the parts came from because we want you to have a reliable car. And the reality of it is somebody spent a lot of money and didn’t get the reliable car that they paid for.

Now eight months down the road, our owner approached us, and said, “Hey, you guys did a fantastic job. All the money is back. I would love for you guys to put a brand new engine in it, and at the same time we know that front suspension needs some repair, let’s take care of that while we’re at it too.” We love these cars. We really want to preserve them. We really want you to be safe in these cars. We understand the Corvette is a sports car, it’s also a dangerous car. The bodies are fiberglass. Being in a car accident in one of these can be very, very catastrophic. We want to make sure that from a reliability and safety standpoint you are always supported, even if it takes us eight months to make sure that happens. We will always support you, keep you safe, and keep you on the road.

If you’ve got a Corvette, and you’re concerned about its longevity, its reliability, or its safety, give us a call here at Saul’s AUTOTEK. Our phone number is 303-919-7769, and we would love to keep yours on the road too.

Saul’s AUTOTEK is open 365 days a year and we’re here to answer your questions, 303-919-7769.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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