Do not trust a mechanic. (a.k.a If you want it done right, do it yourslef)

In the last 3 months I've had more trouble with cars than I'd care to have for a life time.

Let's start with the first one.

On 13 August I purchased a rather good looking 1977 Ford Escort 1.6 GL. I made the purchase knowing that the rings were shot and that the engine would need work. But that suited me as the car was priced right and I needed it to help a friend out of a bad situation.

So... in order to save time, I took it to a mechanic, so that the engine could be sorted. I was quoted a nasty price, but I need to get it done, so I let it be.

A week later the car was still not in anything resembling a driving state, and the mechanic then informed me that the block had a ridge on it and because that required machining he did not include in the price, he could not complete the job. Needless to say, I blew the proverbial gasket, but I remained calm and simply took the car back. I did however manage to impress on them that, since the job wasn't done, and I'm getting the car back in exactly the same state as they got it, I wasn't willing to pay for anything but replaced parts.

That agreed, I payed and prepared to leave. Before doing so though, I walked into my favorite spares shop, right next door, with the intent to purchase an alternator for the Escort. The one it had, was cracked along the casing, rendering it little more than an interesting paper-weight.

At the spares shop, I greeted the gentleman I deal with and told him of my woes. He got that "Hold on a second" look in his face, ran to the back of the store and returned with a fellow employee, who proceeded to tell me about his friend, who had an Escort that was in a very bad accident, but the engine was undamaged and happened to be in good condition.

Long story short, that afternoon I bought a second hand engine.

The following Saturday, my friend and I started stripping at around 11:20. I'm not going to go into detail on what we did, simply know that there is not a part on that car that is not either new or damn close to it. That night at 23:20 the Escort started and ran.

Now I beg the question:

How, in the name of all that is good in holy, does a qualified mechanic, fail to fix an engine, when it took a friend and myself 12 hours of solid graft, to do something that falls short of a full engine rebuild, by nothing more than a clutch-plate?

Seriously... how?

But that's not the end of it.

My wifes 1999 1.3 Citi Golf, has been giving intermittent starting problems for the last 18 months. For the past 4 months the car has been at the mechanics (a different one from the Escort incident) once a month, sometimes for a week at a stretch.

Last week Wednesday it happened again. This time my gasket did not manage to stay intact. There are some things in my life you do not screw around with, the one thing you don't even try to upset me with, is my wife. That is probably the only aspect of my life where I will not tolerate any miss-behavior from anyone.

Anyway. Suffice it to say, that the mechanic got more than just an ear full of my opinion. In fact, after that encounter, HE took the car to a completely different mechanic, at his own cost.

So, we are now on mechanic number three!!!

The car arrives there on Wednesday afternoon and we get a call Thursday afternoon, explaining that they couldn't find anything wrong, but they did clean and tune the carburetor, just in-case. So I ask my superior if I could work from home on Friday, so that I could go and pick it up.

All agreed and alls well. We pick the Golf up at 13:30 on Friday. It starts and all seems well.

Roll on to Saturday night. My wife tries to start it and WE HAVE THE SAME !@#$ING PROBLEM! AGAIN!

Now, before I continue, I have to explain something.

I choose not to work on my wife's car. The reason being, that if something goes wrong, it would be my fault. Things got so bad though, that even if I did work on it and it completely blew up, it would have been an improvement on the situation.

So, for the first time since this horrid adventure started, I took it upon myself, and started diagnosing the problem.

I don't know these engines, so I decided to pull the "Call a friend" card. That was at 22:15 Saturday night. My friend popped around and literally 15 minutes later, we identified the problem as being the coil.

I shit you not, it took us 15 minutes of diagnosis and less than that for verification.

So, this morning, a Sunday morning at that. I get into my Beetle, and start driving around in search of a new coil. It took some doing, but I eventually found one.

Back home, it took all of 10 minutes to swap out the offending apparatus and when I tried to start the car, it took first time.

Knowing that this is an intermittent lament, I decided to switch it off and waited for two hours. Again I went to start it, and it took first time.

Many hours later, at 21:30 tonight, I decided to try it again, seeing as the environmental conditions matched that of last night.

IT TOOK FIRST TIME!

Now pray tell! How the !@#$ is it, that two untrained, inexperienced men. With hardly enough equipment to service a car, manage to diagnose and repair a car that two different mechanics could not.

How do these people sleep at night?
How can they pretend to be mechanics, when they are hardly worthy of the name Jackass?

In conclusion though: Don't trust these bastards, they are not there to help you, they make their living through your misery and discomfort. So they will want to you be as miserable and uncomfortable as possible.

The lesson is learned though. I'll damn well do it myself from now on.