We had a customer come in yelling and screaming one day, calling our manager all manner of racial slurs. (He's black) The customer himself was also black. So we bust in to make sure this guy isn't going to kill our employee. The customer says: "Who the fuck are you?" Tell him that I am the owner. And he shouts: "No you aren't, where's the other guy?!" It turns out he had us confused with another shop.
- There was a morbidly obese family who came in with 5 vehicles all to get oil changes. We have a large lobby and a lot of bays so it is maybe a 45-55 minute wait tops. Well they go and get lunch and we tell them they can eat in the lobby. They go and cram 5 morbidly obese people into a honda civic, and proceed to eat their lunch in their car, in the parking lot in the hot, Texas sun. It was freaking weird - We had this one customer, who unscrewed the tail lights and other parts of the car before she brought it in, so nothing was holding bits of the car together. She then sat in the lobby and talked about how: "I take the parts off mah cah an sue em fo breakin it." She didn't realize that our accountant, who was sitting next to her in the lobby to feed the birds, was one of our employees. Our accountant told us and we went outside and wrote down every. single. thing. that was wrong with her Explorer, which amounted to about 2 pages with the work she had done on it. We showed her everything wrong with her car, and asked her if she would like us to fix it. She double-took and called us racist, sexist and started swearing. We FINALLY calmed her down and got her to sign the paper saying she left without fixing it. I haven't seen her since.
- Another customer stole his own vehicle because he didn't want to pay for the transmission or something. Well the transmission was in pieces on the table because we were rebuilding it, (I believe a bearing somehow got into the planet) So this guys car had no transmission. What did he do? He and his buddies push the car. They got 3-4 miles down the road before a police cruiser picked them up. I believe we ended up with the title on that vehicle.
- We had a guy come in with a red mazda 626, he said it was driving funny and wanted an oil change to fix his car. This car was a *
nightmare** The air intake hose was made out of duct tape and a pringles can. Similar to this everything that could leak was leaking, the electrical system was fried. We have no clue how he managed to drive it in. Anyways, this guy was outraged when we told him that an oil change was not going to make his car run better. He thought we were ripping him off and DEMANDED to be there when we put the oil in. We complied and lo and behold...it still ran like shit. He was pissed, and left in a hurry

Edit: I have a lot of customer horror stories, we have been in business for about 12 years now.
Combined the stories into this one post. Have plenty more.

Edit: I am back. Screw Chemotaxis
Wow, I didn't expect this to get so popular so quickly.

Comments: 2046 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

spasicle364 karma

More stories!

Scuttlebutt91527 karma

There was a morbidly obese family who came in with 5 vehicles all to get oil changes. We have a large lobby and a lot of bays so it is maybe a 45-55 minute wait tops. Well they go and get lunch and we tell them they can eat in the lobby. They go and cram 5 morbidly obese people into a honda civic, and proceed to eat their lunch in their car, in the parking lot in the hot, Texas sun. It was freaking weird

trigaderzad2606869 karma

I bet pictures of them hanging out together over a 20-year span must look like bread rising...

Edit: Fine...

Scuttlebutt91346 karma


Grlmm356 karma

Would you rather fight 1 horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?

Scuttlebutt91404 karma

1 Horse sized duck. Horses scare me. Even little ones.

__C3__225 karma

What was the grossest or weirdest thing you ever found in someone's car?

Scuttlebutt91621 karma

A large black woman came in for an oil change and a tire rotation who just REEKED. So I knew her car would be gross. Anyway, she had rims that I needed the key to remove so I had to search for it. The most likely spot, the glove compartment, is usually where it is kept. So I pop it open. It was full of used tampons and pads. I dug through it and didn't find it, so I had to check the console. Same deal, lots of used tampons and pads.

Long story short, she threw the key away because she thought she didn't need it.

Rick_Cranium128 karma

Why didn't you just ask her where the key was in the first place?

Scuttlebutt91470 karma

I'm young and stupid

phlarp111 karma

You are devoted. I would have given up much earlier.

Scuttlebutt91232 karma

I got a 2 hour break to hose myself off

Onplorasis91 karma

Worth it?

Scuttlebutt91390 karma

Hell no.

rendeld153 karma

What's the most common thing that people don't believe you when you tell them?

Scuttlebutt91250 karma

That its cheaper fix the transmission now than later, they think they can squeeze a few more miles out of it, but will end up destroying EVERYTHING. That and the 3000 mile oil change. That rule is mainly so someone can look at your car and make sure nothing is broken or fucked up. Yes oil does last longer than it did years ago and they do make better filters. But you still should have your car looked over to make sure you don't have a problem developing

vegan_velociraptor151 karma

That's the thing about doing your own oil, too, is that you don't always take the time to look at that stuff. I went to the service station near my office for my last oil change. They charged me a ton for it (convenience is nice, ain't it?) but they caught a belt that was about to go, brake pads that were at 15%, and a couple other things.

Note: this is a place that still does full-service gas in 2012 in Texas.

Scuttlebutt91246 karma

Our oil changes are cheap as part of a business thing. Mainly to get you in the door and show you we aren't trying to rip you off. If we find anything wrong with your car, we make note of it, and show it to you. Then we try to get your business. We also send out a thank you card for each customer.

Endyo75 karma

Well 3000 miles for me is like 6 months. If I can't swing $25 every 6 months then I probably shouldn't own a car.

Scuttlebutt9174 karma

I go by 3000 OR 3 months. just in case something rubber starts leaking

Mr_McGrumpypants56 karma

So basically, it's the car equivalent of a yearly physical.

Scuttlebutt91160 karma

Pretty much. Bend over and cough

CapnSheff151 karma

Is your mechanic shop in the ghetto or something ?

Scuttlebutt91234 karma

It's kind of inbetween, but we have a very good reputation, so much so that we have 2 customers who drive from Louisiana to Houston for major car issues.

CapnSheff96 karma

Yeah thanks for answering because you had an incredible amount of scumbag customer stories and we get a lot of the same people around the inner suburbs of Detroit

Scuttlebutt91105 karma

Ooh that's gotta be rough, I would love to hear some stories.

Utinni39 karma

Where in Houston? It sure would help us locals out with picturing the clientele.

Scuttlebutt9161 karma

Technically in Humble, past the 59 overpass

officerha43 karma

Where exactly? I live in Kingwood and would love to give you business.

Scuttlebutt9152 karma

Message me and I will send you the address

badvice11 karma

That seems counter-productive.

Scuttlebutt9145 karma

...I didn't mention that to them, we did try to get them set up with a good mechanic in their area though

Faliceer129 karma

How often does this type of shit happen? Would it be fair to say that it is because of your area? How many lawsuits have you faced?

Scuttlebutt91226 karma

In the 12 years we have operated we have had around 150 lawsuits. Mainly because of the area, however we tend to get sued when we have to repo someones car. Most of these cases are dropped. And I do believe it is mainly because of our area.

MrE2Me55 karma

Any lawsuits you lost?

Scuttlebutt9190 karma

Several. But thats the way the chip.

tachyon534125 karma

Have you ever had someone who has obviously crashed their car into something living try and deny it?

Scuttlebutt91246 karma

No, but we did have someone crash their car into the lobby.

tachyon534103 karma

Did they ever explain why?

Scuttlebutt91190 karma

It was an senile guy who accidentally had it in drive. The building was insured and he was ok, so no harm was done.

Geodude_Maybe96 karma

I've got a regular small-business mechanic similar to you that I go to when something doesn't run right. He's a BMW specialist and I've known the guy for 6/7 years, so I'm never worried when I go visit him. Kudos to both of you for doing something that I couldn't.

Scuttlebutt91172 karma

It's actually kind of fun once you get the hang of it. Like finding the tiny pinhole fucking up the whole car. It's like CSI

[deleted]88 karma


Scuttlebutt91235 karma

Vice grips for a steering wheel and a gear shifter. IT WAS AWESOME

GrinningPariah117 karma

This supports my theory that vice grips make any job turn out well.

Scuttlebutt91198 karma


hotboxpizza87 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA! I have a couple friends that work in auto shops and I hear some of the craziest shit from them.

1) Do you get a lot of repeat customers?

2) What's the coolest thing you've ever gotten to do/work on?

3) How much business do you get? Cash flow on average?

4) Have you ever had any physical altercations occur with customers in your shop?

5) What's your favorite kind of pizza?

6) Do you see jank setups (such as the pringles can intake) often?

7) Do you do work on personal cars and/or do you own any awesome cars?

I know it's a lot, this is just what came to mind. Thanks again!

Scuttlebutt91145 karma

1.) Yes
2.) I love working on my father's DeLorean. 3.) Not going to say on a public forum, its a hefty amount, but so are the bills to run the place 4.) Yes, several.
5.) Meatlovers
6.) Yes and no, maybe one every few weeks
7.) I drive a 1999 Lincoln Towncar with 418000 miles on it, my dad is giving me his DeLorean when I graduate.

gleefulmidget193 karma

You haven't graduated? Holy crap I thought you were like a jaded middle aged man who'd seen all there is to see in the industry

Scuttlebutt91237 karma

Nope. I'm 20, in college and working at the shop.

unsilviu69 karma

Have you ever had shifty customers that seemed to be running from the law?

Scuttlebutt9155 karma

Yep, we have to get a license, vin #, etc. from them just in case.

Notmiefault53 karma

Any sort of pranks or hazing that go on, especially with newer mechanics? (headlight fluid, flux capacitor, that sort of thing)

Scuttlebutt91172 karma

We actually own a DeLorean. The my father bought it when I was little and we have a prop flux capacitor in it.

mann13814 karma


Scuttlebutt9160 karma

I won't be going into work until Thursday. (The DeLorean is in the shop for some down time) Everyone who wants pics (I will be putting a timestamp) just reply to this post and I will do my best to alert you.

EDIT: Didn't expect so many replies on this. I'm going to have to make sure it's a special DeLorean photo-op

nimofitze53 karma

What was the weirdest request a customer has ever made of you that you actually followed through with? For example, repaint the windshield or tinted headlights.

Scuttlebutt91140 karma

I helped a customer move houses once. Very good customer, he has been coming to us for 10 years.

DarthKhan50 karma

What car make/model do you see the most in the shop getting repairs?

Scuttlebutt91112 karma

Lately its Buick LeSabre from the 90s. Like they all decided to break this year. ಠ_ಠ

riotgorl49 karma

What do you and your dad think about hybrid cars?

Scuttlebutt9176 karma

They're cool, but aren't developed to the point where we would buy one.

Tambe39 karma

Where did you get your education for working in this field? Did you go to a trade school, or is it mostly self-taught/handed-down knowledge?

Scuttlebutt9174 karma

My father built the shop when I was 9. I have been hanging out ever since learning both the business and the mechanical side. Never went to trade school.

[deleted]25 karma


Scuttlebutt9188 karma

It has never been a problem. The thing we learned when we started the business was that the self taught guys were a lot more capable than the class taught ones. Its got something to do with learning problem solving skills.

Endyo36 karma

Does gas mileage automatically just start sucking as cars get older? I have a 2001 Corolla and the city mileage people talk about is like 30 mpg and I get about 21... Half the reason I bought a small car was for great gas mileage and some of the new giant trucks are stated to get comparable mileage.

Scuttlebutt9147 karma

No, there is probably some other issue with the vehicle.

xohne8 karma

Also, driving style plays a big role. Feather the pedal, don't stomp it, etc.

Scuttlebutt9110 karma


laserbeanz31 karma

Why does labor cost so much?

Scuttlebutt9151 karma

Partly because it is fucking expensive to run an auto shop. You have liability, lots of insurance, a huge electric bill, payroll, and so on and so forth.

penclnck28 karma

Dealer tech for over 10 years here...

  • Did an oil change only on a car, customer comes back the next day saying I broke her door panel.

  • Service Manager calls me to the breeze way (where cars are dropped off and picked up by customers). He is there with a pissed off customer who's car I just worked on. Service Manager, in a very angry voice asked if I smoked in this customer's car and put burn marks in the seat. I remind my Service Manager that I don't smoke, to which he turns back to the customer with the biggest shit eating grin on his face, "Oh yeah, Bob doesn't smoke.... do you think maybe you could of done this since you smoke?" No free seat covers for that ass.

  • Customers who tried to fix their own car only to make things way worse. I spend 2 days on a car that would start up, not shut off when the key was removed. I had to pull the Fuel Pump Relay to shut the engine off. Customer didn't know why it did this, but figured it was a good idea to tow the car to the shop and EVERY fuse and relay in a small box.... so I finally found the issue, a piece of wire was jumped between 2 fuses behind the fuse panel (dash has to be remove to get to this). Tell customer the issue was fixed, 17 hour bill. Customer gets all pissed off that I didn't magically know how he had fucked it up.

Scuttlebutt9112 karma

I hate the smoking thing, we get that a lot

DooDooBrownz27 karma

in your opinion what is the most crucial element in car maintenance? Is it topping the blinker fluid, making sure the chin nuts are properly torqued or making sure the 710 cap is in proper orientation?

Scuttlebutt9127 karma

You need to make sure you have enough elbow grease!

Cerberus13619 karma

  1. Whenever I think "Mechanic" I automatically think of the Fast and Furious movies and all those sexy cars. Do you ever get awesome muscle/exotic cars that need work done on them? What are some of the coolest cars you've seen go through your shop?

  2. Mitt Romney claims that by reducing second-home mortgage reductions for high income people it would allow small businesses to keep a larger share of their earnings and expand payrolls. Without hearing specifics (since he doesn't give specifics on anything), what are your thoughts on that?

Cool AMA!

Scuttlebutt9127 karma

  1. We get a LOT of DeLoreans since the owner has one and because we are so close to the DMC
  2. We don't have a second home, and we certainly aren't fuck-all stupid enough to get a mortgage. We are having money troubles, but its mainly fallout from that fucking cash for clunkers program. Business is down quite a bit. We won't go bankrupt anytime soon though.

Cozmo2313 karma

Do you do Texas safety inspections? Those always seem to have good stories involved.

Scuttlebutt9114 karma

We don't the store next to us does, we will get your car prepped and send it over to them though. We do everything but bodywork and inspections.

Eat_a_Bullet12 karma

I'm sure plenty of people tried to solve their car problems themselves at home before bringing the car to your shop. Any hilarious home repairs come your way, other than the Pringles can air intake hose?

Scuttlebutt9124 karma

Vice grips for a steering wheel, glued on parts, All sorts of fun things

bwana_singsong10 karma

As a practical matter, do you ever tell people "this thing isn't worth fixing, sell it for parts"?

Scuttlebutt9111 karma

Yes. Sometimes we even buy the vehicle from them if they are willing to sell it.