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Bernardi Toyota / Bad repair work, $3K estimate for work not needed, bumped my vehicle into another

1 1626 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA, United States
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What can be done to resolve this problem, I am not sure... One, instill a standard of procedure whereby a staffer never starts a manual car without being comfortable with a manual transmission; two, always ensure that no individual could be harmed if the car moved when started; three, ensure that a service manager actually contacts a customer when requested; four, always provide a receipt when requested, and five, provide rationales for work needed, especially when that work is not actually needed to fix a problem.
Oh, and reimburse me for my time spent going back twice for follow-up repairs that should never have been needed.
My tale: Two visits for repairs to their original repair, an estimate of $3, 100 for further work, and I saw my truck clutch-jumped into the vehicle in front of it.
First, positives: Pleasant service people. Okay waiting area. Free coffee/water; snack tray. That’s the good side.
I know cars enough to diagnose some things, and to admit when I don’t know. So, ID’ing the break in my 2004 Tacoma exhaust (that noise!) wasn’t hard. My normal mechanic was on vacation; Bernardi Toyota (Framingham) was closer than Acton Toyota (where I’ve been very satisfied). So I made an appointment at Bernardi, explaining that I wanted an exhaust replacement from the catalytic converter back, and I wanted to be sure they’d have the part in stock when I came in, to avoid two vistis. The next day, 6 hours and $1000 later, I left Bernardi with new front brakes (which I agreed to), and a new aftermarket cat-back exhaust from a local parts store. I had wanted OEM, but Bernardi didn’t have/couldn’t find one, and had to work to even find the aftermarket one. Why they didn’t have any exhaust ready for my truck was explained in as nice a way as possible by Jason (they don’t keep all parts in stock, and won’t get one based simply on what a customer says…).
I drove off, to…different. 5 days later a friend and I found the new exhaust pipe rubbing against the leaf spring. So, visit #2 to Bernardi. No charge; this should clearly have been picked up by the techs. But another hour or so (plus drive time) out of another day. Looks like they cut a support weld and re-bent the pipe.
About a week later, my check engine light (CEL) came on. Auto Zone diagnosed the codes (for free) and I looked up possible causes, which ran from exhaust leak, to bad sensor, up to a bad catalytic converter. Started with simple: found water condensate dripping from the flange where the catalytic converter (old) connected to the (new) exhaust work. Missing a gasket maybe, and needed to be tightened up.
So, visit #3 to Bernardi, to document the continuing saga. After ~an hour, the service tech told me they’d replaced the gasket and tightened up the flange, but that I needed both catalytic converters replaced, for ~ $3100. I was too stunned to ask questions. I had told them not to bother with diagnostics or clearing the CEL (I’d be going back to my local mechanic), so how would they know I needed over $3K additional work? The tech went to see if they cleared the check engine light. I said not to bother as I would be going elsewhere, but the tech started up the truck, and… Boom! It surged forward, bumping into the vehicle in front if it. Had I not moved to the side of the truck from the front where I had been standing, I would have a crushed knee right now. The tech’s response: “It was in neutral. Does it always do that?” Uhhh…No. The tech apologized, and several other people came over to ask if the tech was alright. One looked at my front bumper (which, admittedly, has seen better days) and the newer, more expensive one it bumped, declared both to be okay, and went about his business. I know the hit wasn’t huge (but it did crack a bent part of my license plate), and that not much else can be done, but a minimal apology and tech-directed concern, while I stand there wide-eyed, hand over mouth in disbelief, somehow just isn’t enough. I asked for a receipt, which I did not get, and drove out of the garage to sit and think.
Considered my entire Bernardi experience… I went back in and asked to speak with an owner or site manager. A nice young man at the sales desk went to get the service manager. I was told that he was “busy with several other customers, ” and he would call me…Still waiting.
Follow-up note: 2.5 weeks and 1, 000 miles later, my truck passed inspection, and the CEL never came back on (my mechanic cleared it later in the visit#3 day). No catalytic converters were replaced. No $3100 spent. Oh, and I never heard from anyone at Bernardi.

Aug 20, 2015

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