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Mechanics just keep taking my money...

1138 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  93eldodave
I piced this car up cheap. 1997 Cadillac STS. Its a clean car with high k's (almost 300,000 km's). It's survived 12 canadian winters, its as clean underneath as it is all around Couple minor rust spots here and there. But it rides like an army hummer.

I've had it inspected 3 times. The last garage i took it to switched mechanics half way through the job and didnt finish doing what i asked. It was in for an oil change and i asked them to look at a few specific things, listed some symptoms. They replaced a wiper arm and topped up washer fluid, i didnt ask for either, and didnt want either. They also billed me for 7 litres of oil, i thought this engine took 8? I told them the car shakes, told them when it shakes, and told them what it sounded like. They didnt pull the roters to check for warp, and they didnt even glance at the rear end at all. They told me lower front control arm bushings were bad. Someone else a few days ago told me they were fine...... billed me for materials and an extra hour of labor.

So here are my symtoms.

When parked, car running, there is tiny bit of play in the wheel. You can hear it clunk when you turn it left and right 1/4 inch. It doesnt do this while driving, or when te car is off.

Light-medium braking from 40k+ periodicly the steering wheel shakes extremely hard. It does not do this under hard braking. I find myself pushing harde on the brake a lot to make it stop. It also sounds like im dragging a plastic recycle bin under the car, banging around. I also hear this when im going over bumps.

The rear end sways left and right when i hit larger bumps and potholes. Its actualy jumped about 1/3 of a lane on me at high speed a couple times.

I have a very good source for donor parts. a 1994 STS and a 1997 STS. Each car is limited in whats left on them.

I dont know what to do really. I could take it to a more reputable (expensive) garage and hope for te best, or i could figure out through tips and what-not how to look for and diagnose my problems. This is my 3rd vehicle in the last year ive had this problem with. Everyone wants me to buy parts i dont need. Canadian Tire told me there was a rip in my CV boot on my grand prix.... said id have to replace everything. I waited on it, and a while later we had it in the air doing brakes, and i couldnt find this rip ANYWHERE. So ya.... i dont want to spend any more on hallucinogenic auto mchanics.

What to do.....
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i totaly expected the car to need work, and im prepaired to get the work done. I just didnt want the run around. The car was cheap, ball joints, brakes, all that stuff is cheap. Its the expensive stuff im worried about. I almost bought 2 lower control arms. Those arent cheap, and i cant find bushings for them. But now i dont know if i even need them. The last garage told me the ball joints, brakes, and tie rods were all good. I didnt expect that at all.... but i have a bill from the previous owner from 2004 for new ball joints, lots of other work done too heh.
took it to Canadian Tire. I explained in detail what i wanted before the car went in. They billed me for a front end inspection and let me get under the car to look at stuff myself. 0.3 hours labor.

Recap: so the last garage told me i have 50% pad left on the front and 70% on the rear brakes. He pointed out the front inner brake pads, there MIGHT be 5% pad left. (thats five percent, yep). All 4 rotors are gouged to hell. There i white spots all over the rotors. He said they are hot spots and will make the car shake when braking.

He checked everything he could think of. ANd checked the lower control arms and could find nothing wrong. I asked then, so why does it sound like im dragging a recycle box under the car, banging around. He showed me the catalitic converter, banged it a couple times with his fist. It seems like theres a cage around it or something? its very loud..... its loose. The exhaust on this car is in 99% perfect condition. Not sure why it would be loose :bigroll:

i went to the back of the car and grabbed the center of the sway bar, pushed it forward and back. It flexes a bit, i didnt have to push very hard. But there is a very noticeable squeeking from the passenger side. That would explain the loud squeek i hear when i drive through that pothole in the time hortons drive through every morning.

Balljoints are fine. Tie rods fine. Front shocks are good. Control arms are good. But i still have play in the steering wheel, mostly only notice it when the car is sitting still and running. He said maybe the rack. I saw dollar signs.

Gonna do pads and rotors this weekend. Ill check a couple exhaust shops through the week and see if anyone will look at the cat rattle for me for cheap.

Edit: Also, man th sway bar is small, its half as thick as the one on my GTP. Is there an aftermarket one or something i can get a little thicker? I feel like maybe a tire is actualy leaving the ground once in a while going around bends with bumps, the rear end actualy shifts a little bit, like one tire will jump 1/2 inch or so on a bump or rut in the road with a lot of G.
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swapped front rotors and pads. No more shake. Control arm bushings have very minor cracks in them but are still tight. The heat shield on the catalitic converter is loose, rattles a lot but its not a tinny rattle like a small metal part would make. More of a clunk clunk clunk on bumps that shift the car left and right.

The old rotors were HORRIBLE, especialy the drivers side. ran my finger across and it felt like train tracks. How this got through an inspection.....

Next up i think is rear shocks and sway bar. This car has a bad habbit of shifting left-right on bumpy bends. Feels like a tire leaving the ground. I already know my back shocks leak. Also ABSpump is dead so i think ride control is out? Feels like shocks are at full stiff.
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