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Wronged by Cottman

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This is my story.


In short:

Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey charged me for, and told me they replaced the bearings, gears, and synchros in my transmission.

They did not.

I have photographic proof.

They didn't even clean inside the case. They allowed me to take pictures of the inside of the transmission in their shop before any work was done. Two months later, when my Father and I cracked open the transmission, it was exactly the same, if not worse, as before it went to their shop. Apparently, after I left their shop the day I took the pictures, they closed the transmission up, and put it back in the car. They charged me for new parts. Total over $1600 including a new clutch, which wasn't needed, but was rather a maintenence procedure.

When I first drove the car after the "repair", I immediately noticed, besides the clutch having a problem, that the transmission felt exactly the same as it did before. With new bearings, gears, and synchros, it should feel like a new transmission. Several visits ensued, along with attempts for a refund, and attempts of recovery of parts lost by the shop.

The full detailed story:

(From a previous document by myself)

Dispute letter re: Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL

This is to document the occurrences between the business “Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL”, hereafter referred to as the shop, and I, in regards to the work performed on the vehicle registered to me, one 1994 Acura Integra LS, hereafter referred to as the car, or car.

To summarize the reason for needed repairs, at some point before I owned the car, while someone was changing out a seal on the transmission, they ruined the surface that the seal seats to, thus creating a leak. It is this leak that caused the problems that ensued. The synchros in the transmission were worn down from age, causing slow shifts, and grinding.

Tuesday 14 June 2005
Prior to this date, I noticed some abnormal vibration under acceleration that I had not yet had time to check out. While driving home from my place of employment on this date, the transmission started to kick out of 5th gear. By that, meaning that while the shifter was in the 5th gear position, and engaged, the shifter would pop into the neutral position, and the transmission would be in neutral. Upon researching, I found that this was due to a lack of transmission fluid.

Wednesday 15 June 2005
While driving to work, about 100 yards from my house, the transmission stopped working. To be specific, despite the position of the shifter, the transmission was always in a state of neutral, and no power would reach the drive wheels, thus the car would not move. The transmission made no noise at the point that it stopped functioning. I pushed the car back to my house.

Thursday 16 June 2005
I added transmission fluid to the transmission, with no change to the transmission’s condition. At this point I assumed that the differential had failed in the transmission. I called several salvage yards, and filled out a form online for yards all across the country, for a complete transmission. Also at this time I searched online for transmission shops, found, and called Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL. I talked to Shawn (last name unknown to me). Service was not agreed to or rendered at this time.

Saturday 18 June 2005
I called Shawn and we agreed on performing service to the transmission. I talked to him about the leak that started the whole scenario, and he said he has a guy that specializes in doing that, and that he trusts him with his own stuff. I told him that I don’t even want to bother with the rest of the transmission unless the leak can be fixed, so this doesn’t happen again. A tow truck was scheduled for Monday 20 June 2005 in the morning at the shop’s expense. It was agreed that the transmission would be opened up, and I was allowed to take pictures of the internals, and at that time the mechanic would determine what needed replacing, and the prices would also be determined. It was at this point that it was understood between us that I wanted the old parts. (removed parts)

Monday 20 June 2005
Car was picked up in the morning by Ultima Towing. I followed the truck to the shop, and talked with Shawn for several minutes about my car, and cars in general, before I left.

Tuesday 21 June 2005
I stopped by the shop before work. The transmission was not yet out of the car.

Wednesday 22 June 2005
I stopped by the shop before work, and Shawn led me to another room where the transmissions are worked on. He showed me a transmission casing with a hole blown through it from a differential that had failed, with the differential parts still in it. After about thirty seconds, I let him know that it wasn’t my transmission. He then "realized" that my transmission was on another table. Parts to be replaced had not yet been determined, and the transmission was not yet apart.

Thursday 23 June 2005
I called the shop, and Shawn said that the transmission was apart, and proceeded to tell me the prices on parts, and what the parts were. He said he was ordering NEW parts from Acura, and that Acura does not sell synchros by themselves, they come with the gears, thus it’s more expensive. The parts to be replaced inside the transmission were synchros, gears, and bearings. As a maintenance issue, while the transmission was out of the car, I had them replace the clutch as well. I was not in need of a new clutch. Those parts include the clutch disk, pressure plate, throw out bearing, and the pilot bearing. Flywheel resurfacing is also performed for clutch replacement. Other services to be done to the car were the fixing of the leak. I did not write down the prices he gave me over the phone, as I was expecting an itemized receipt. I was only interested in the total price. I went to the shop, and took pictures of the transmission internals.

Saturday 25 June 2005
I called the shop at 11:00am, and Shawn said that the car was ready to be picked up. I arrived at 11:45am, and they close at 12:00pm noon. I felt rushed, so on the receipt I only checked the total price. I did not notice at this time that the receipt was not itemized. I got in the car, and, unrelated to the work performed, after several tries, the car started, and immediately I noticed that the throw-out bearing for the clutch was squeaking very loud, and Shawn said that if it was still doing that in a week, he will replace it. As I was leaving, I noticed that whenever the clutch was engaging, it caused a chatter and violent shake all throughout the car. Again, due to feeling rushed, I failed to ask for the old parts that I requested, and that Shawn agreed to give to me. While driving I noticed that the transmission also feels exactly the same as before it failed. Every gear engagement felt exactly the same. About an hour after I left the shop, I looked in the engine bay and noticed some things missing and out of place. There is a rubber boot that protects an opening to the clutch from dirt and debris. It was missing. There is a bracket that supports the lower radiator hose from rubbing against other components, preventing wear, and eventually a leak. This bracket also holds the ground strap for the transmission. It was missing. The ground strap was not connected. The wire for a sensor at the bottom of the transmission was mounted at the bottom of the transmission, leaving it open to being hit and cut by debris from the road. It was in the wrong place. The leak was not fixed. This was the main reason I brought the job to them.

Sunday 26 June 2005
I called Shawn at home and voiced my complaints. He said to bring it in on Monday, and I agreed.

Monday 27 June 2005
I took the car to the shop and showed Shawn the visible problems, and told him that it felt like the synchros and gears were never changed. He told me that he ordered them. I also informed him of the leak not being fixed, and the chattering with the clutch. We agreed that I would bring the car in on Thursday for the work to be performed.

Thursday 30 June 2005
I brought the car in the morning, and left it with the shop. Later in the day, Shawn called me and told me that the car was ready. I knew right away that the problems weren’t solved in that short of time. I checked out under the hood of the vehicle, and noticed the boot was there, but installed incorrectly. The wire for the sensor was mounted in a better position. The bracket was not installed. Instead there was a bracket from something else bolted on in its place, and it did not hold the lower radiator hose correctly, causing it to rub against the transmission mount. The ground strap was connected to this new bracket. Upon driving with one of the shop’s mechanics, I notice no change in the clutch or the transmission. I could not recreate any grinding for the mechanic. I talked to Shawn about the clutch chatter, and showed him, and we agreed that I would bring it back next Thursday 7 July 2005 for a new clutch. When I got home, I jacked the car up, and inspected underneath. I was looking for a missing or incorrectly installed motor mount as the cause of the chatter. I found all mounts to be fine, but there were some bolts missing from the bottom of the transmission, and one of the bolts on a bracket between the engine and transmission was stripped, and completely backed out. The only thing holding it from falling on the road was the exhaust pipe. It could not be tightened. I called Shawn and told him of my findings. He told me that he was mad that his mechanics were messing up, and said that when I bring it back Thursday 7 July 2005, I won’t get it back until everything is correct. He said he was going to go over it himself, “with a fine toothed comb.”

Thursday 7 July 2005
I brought the car to the shop, and left a list on the dash of all the problems. I spoke to Shawn, told him about the list, and he said it should be done Saturday or Monday.

Monday 11 July 2005
I called Shawn, and he said they had just started working on it today.

Wednesday 13 July 2005
I received a call from Tom, saying that the car was ready. I had to go to work, so I told him I would pick it up tomorrow.

Thursday 14 July 2005
I went to the shop to get the car, and found out that Shawn had moved to Pennsylvania, and Tom took his place. The list I left with the car was gone. Tom said that it looked like the clutch had been “power shifted”. I told him no. I told him that the clutch was chattering since I first drove it off this lot “a week ago”. (Was actually three weeks.) Clutch disk was either defective, or the flywheel was machined wrong. The only work that was performed was changing the clutch, and machining the flywheel (not confirmed). The clutch disk was only making contact on the outer part of the material, and the center of the disk was blue, as if it had been heated, so parts or installation was incorrect. I then went over each of the other problems that visibly were not fixed. He talked to the mechanics about the bracket that was missing, and replaced with something not from the car, and they said that the bracket was missing when I originally brought the car in. That is a lie. I have never removed the bracket. It is my understanding that the bracket needs to be removed in order to take the transmission apart. It was lost during repair. In the pictures I took with Shawn when the transmission was first apart, the bracket is missing. Tom refused to get me a new bracket, stating the one that was put on the car was good enough. I told him that it is not acceptable, as it doesn’t hold the lower radiator hose correctly. He shrugged my complaint off. I told him that the transmission was probably still leaking too. That night on the interstate, 5th gear kicked out, just like before I went to the shop. It continued to do so every time I attempted to use 5th gear.

Friday 15 July 2005
I called Tom, and told him that 5th gear was kicking out, just like before I brought it to them, and that the transmission was still leaking. We agreed that I would bring it in on Monday. 5th gear continued to kick out. I attempted to contact Cottman’s main office via their website, and received no reply.

Monday 18 July 2005
My wife had a migraine, and a spike in blood pressure, warranting a visit to the emergency room all day. She is pregnant.

Tuesday 19 July 2005
I called Tom, and told him that I wanted my receipt itemized, or to see their receipt for ordering the parts new, and that I wanted to see the old transmission parts. He called back, and told me that by law they only have to hold the parts for [24 or 48] hours, then they dispose of them, and that their receipt was forwarded to the owner.

Wednesday 20 July 2005
I brought the car to the shop in the morning. Tom wanted me to come along for a test drive, but I could not stay, as I needed to bring my wife to work in her car, so I wasn’t without transportation.

Thursday 21 July 2005
I received a call from Tom, saying that the car was ready. He said he could not recreate the kick-out of 5th gear. I don’t see how this was possible. Even if I held it in 5th, it would violently kick out. He said that the transmission was dry, and that they fixed the leak (not confirmed). I picked up the car after hours, as I had no mode of transportation.

Thursday 28 July 2005
My wife called the shop, and asked for the receipt to be itemized, or to see their receipt for purchasing the parts. She talked to Rich (last name unknown), who said that Tom no longer works there, and that he had taken his place. He said that the receipt was forwarded to the owner. She asked if he could get copies of it. He said that he would work on it. She called back after a few hours, and he said he was busy and didn’t have time to get to it. He took her number, and said he would work on it and call her back. He never called.

Tuesday 2 August 2005
My wife called the shop, and talked to Rich. He said he had been swamped, and he did not have time to do it. She said she gave him three days, and that she would come in at 2:00pm to pick up the copy. He said ok. She arrived at the shop at about 2:30pm. The owner was there. She did not get his name. He said that by law he did not have to give her a receipt. The mechanic said that there was nothing wrong with the car. The owner put his hand in front of her and said, “Will you fix my hand? It’s not broken, but will you fix it?” My wife contacted Cottman’s main office via their website, and she received a reply from Liza McNally. She said that they can not do anything. She said that it will have to be handled with “Mike”, the owner of the shop. He has made it clear, as stated above, that we can not resolve this in a conventional manner. Thus, the steps we are taking now.

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