Warning: Las Vegas Mechanic
For the benefit of Mercedes owners in the Las Vegas area, I'm posting a copy of a complaint I recently sent to the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada. It concerns Euro Asian Motorworks. Take it as a warning, not as the preface to a debate. My hope is to save someone out there from a similar fate.
An abbreviated form of my complaint is as follows:
Last spring the engine in my 1990 Mercedes 300 TE suffered extensive damage due to low oil pressure. After having my car towed to Euro Asian Motorworks it was immediately apparent, due to low compression and an alarming valve noise, that in the very least, the engine would require new piston rings, main bearings, oil pump and extensive valve work. When I asked one of the owners, BJ Strickin, about installing a salvage engine, he advised me that he could rebuild the engine and "guarantee it for 200,000 miles." He said that with a salvage engine there were unknown factors, but with his work I could be sure that everything was done right. I left the car with Euro Asian Motorworks, but stayed in contact via phone and e-mail during the rebuild. Digital pictures were sent to document my damaged parts and I received frequent calls so that no major expenditures for parts were made without my prior approval. When I came to pick up my car -- three weeks and around $6,000 later -- it was smoking horribly... as in huge blue/white clouds. At this time BJ assured me that the smoke was due to oil that had collected in my catalytic converter, and not to worry, it would burn off. On the drive from Las Vegas to Vail, Colorado the car lost three quarts of oil. The oil was both burned off (as evidenced by smoke) and leaked away via a poor seal on the front, right of the oil pan, (incidentally, when I discovered this leak, I also noticed that two bolts were missing from a sealed portion of the pan). When I took the car to a mechanic in Vail, he told me that the car had "big problems" and to take it back, (all of this can be documented). I contacted BJ and he told me to return the car and that they would fix it. At this point I took off a day of work, drove to Las Vegas, was told by Matt Stricklin both that BJ was gone and that there were aspects of BJ's work that he would have done differently, and that my car would not be fixed any time soon, so I took a sixteen hour bus trip back to Vail. Initially, Matt told me that the car would be done in a week, but a week passed and the car was not finished, then another, then yet another. I should mention that this car was my only source of transportation. After three weeks I rode a Greyhound back to Las Vegas, (note: at this point I have spent $207 on bus tickets, $170 on gas, and am in the process of missing my third day of work -- $360 before taxes, all of this in addition to the money spent on the initial "rebuild." I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000 additional dollars to Matt Stricklin at this time for parts, as he said there would be no additional charge for the "warranty" labor, but that I owed for used replacement pistons he had found on ebay, (no receipt was provided for these parts). The theory at this point was that an oil ring had failed to seat, and that back pressure from a clogged catalytic converter was causing additional problems. Note: Oil burning in a catalytic converter -- BJ's theory as to why my car smoked the first time -- is one of the most common ways in which catalytic converters are ruined. I have since replaced this part. On the second drive home, the car smoked and leaked exactly as before and it appeared I had just spent an additional $1000 on nothing. After trying to diagnose the car myself without pulling the head for two months, I finally, after smoking my way across the country at 300 miles/quart and 800 miles per set of fouled spark plugs, capitulated and took the car to Germain Mercedes-Benz in Columbus, Ohio for a diagnosis. Their advice, taken verbatim from the invoice:
"Advised customer to return to shop where overhaul was performed eng needs to come apart, possible rings valve stem guides or seals could be causing concern."
As I initially stated, this is a very elementary, abbreviated form of my complaint. I am not a professional mechanic, but I am an engineer, and I have a much more detailed understanding of the problems with this engine than what I have outlined here. When I last spoke with Matt Stricklin, requesting that, since I have given him over seven thousands dollars for a engine that could have been replaced with one taken from salvage for less than four thousand dollars, and since I have incurred more than $700 in travel expenses and three additional weeks without transportation facilitating his "warranty" work, and since the engine into which all of this money has been poured is essentially still junk, that I should be reimbursed by Euro Asian Motorworks after having the work done locally. His response was that I should have had a salvage engine installed, (my initial suggestion to his brother before all of this started), and that since he could document that all of the parts listed on my receipt had been installed, he owes me nothing.
And yes, benzworld forum members, I am painfully aware that this car is only worth $6000 on a good day.
Be warned... and learn from my mistakes.