Tom and Ray help a Damsel in Distress, Dawn.
Help! I am a damsel in distress! I just took my 1979 Saab EMS into the shop to have the transmission done. I ended up with a new clutch and a rebuilt transmission. But my car STILL has trouble going into reverse. The shifter won't go into reverse even with lots of maneuvering. What do I do now?
TOM: Gee, Dawn, this sounds like a real Saab story, if you know what I mean. I think your mechanic may have screwed up on two counts.
RAY: First of all, it sounds to me like he may have misdiagnosed the problem entirely. With a new clutch and rebuilt transmission, this car should slip into reverse as easily as my brother slips into deep sleep in the middle of our radio show. If it doesn't, either he did a lousy job, or there was nothing wrong with the clutch or transmission in the first place.
TOM: The problem could be with the hydraulic system that operate the clutch--the master cylinder, the slave cylinder, or even the rod that connects the clutch pedal to the master cylinder.
RAY: If any one of these parts is worn out, the clutch won't disengage. And that will make it very hard to get into gear--especially reverse!
TOM: But instead of diagnosing it more carefully and perhaps replacing the hydraulics for a few hundred dollars, your mechanic decided to go right ahead and rebuild your transmission. Who knows? Maybe he saw your Gold Card when you opened your wallet.
RAY: But the second mistake he made is even more inexcusable than the first. After taking thousands of dollars from you to rebuild your transmission, he didn't even have the brains to drive the car to see if it was fixed! He gave it back to you with the same problem you came in with!
TOM: If he had been smart, he would have discovered that problem was still there, and then fixed it before he let you out the door. You'd still be out a couple of grand, but your car would work, and you wouldn't looking up the Attorney General's phone number in the yellow pages.
RAY: It's impossible for us to know by mail whether the transmission or clutch actually did need any work. On a 1979 car, it's possible that they did, so we can't tell you to insist that he give you your money back. But considering how much you've already paid him, this mechanic ought to do for free whatever is necessary to make your transmission work perfectly. Good luck, Dawn.