Growing up as a teenager in the ’70s, I learned that my parents were not in a position to buy me a new car and I quickly conditioned myself to work hard for something I wanted and went on a mission to cut many lawns, deliver newspapers, provide grocery valet service in the ShopRite parking lot and even selling seeds door to door. This is what we did as teenagers to have the revenue to purchase what we wanted. I saved up enough money to buy myself an old 1953 Dodge pickup with a straight L-6 engine and a 3-speed manual transmission. This truck was fully serviceable and just about anything on that truck was rebuildable. I soon learned that a nearby antique “junkyard” was my best friend to keep operating costs low to perform any repairs I needed. It was the way of life growing up to earn, save and spend wisely.
Many things have changed over the years and now these “junkyards” are considered a gold mine for parts that are needed. These yards are now labeled as “salvage yard” or “recycled parts” and we dare not use the word “junk” anymore. Many collision shops are now being given the option to purchase used parts to keep operating costs low on insurance claims after an accident. There are also customers at repair shops that ask for an option to put used parts in the vehicle and it all boils down to the costs of repairs. There is nothing wrong about this operation because you're putting in the same manufacturer parts that still meet the quality of the vehicle but the buyer must be aware that the parts they buy may not be the correct ones at times and that they may be compromised by a prior accident or ruined by weather conditions.
Saving money or asking for trouble?
A homeowner was looking to save some money on purchasing a newer vehicle so he decided to buy a 2016 Audi S7 “Salvage Vehicle” for a very good price but it had a few underlying issues that he was aware of when he agreed to the price of the vehicle (Figure 1). These salvage cars can sometimes be a train wreck in itself or you can get lucky. It’s a buyer beware deal and you need to know what your purchasing and what issues the car has that might create deep pockets on your behalf. The one issue that was known with this Audi was the transmission case was cracked and leaking fluid from a prior accident and it was never addressed. The only fix was to replace the entire transmission assembly. If purchased new or rebuilt this might have been a very expensive venture so the owner of the vehicle opted to find a salvage transmission and hire out a transmission shop to install it for him.
The transmission shop was not obligated to give him ANY guarantees with the job because it was a salvage transmission and they were not taking any responsibilities and the only guarantee was the installation of the unit. The owner agreed and he dropped off the vehicle on a flatbed and it drove off the flatbed without ant issues and parked in the parking lot of the transmission shop. The salvage transmission was also dropped off for the shop to install (Figure 2). All things were now put into play and the customer was excited to get his investment of a low-cost vehicle on the road just in time for the summer. During the week the transmission was installed by the shop and the installation went smoothly but once the job was completed and the fluids were topped off, the vehicle would not go into "Drive" or "Reverse.” The owner of the vehicle was soon notified and then it became a blame game. The owner stressed that the vehicle did have "Drive" and "Reverse" gear issues before the installation and the transmission came out of a good running car. It was that “drive them in/push them out” syndrome but the transmission shop had already explained that there were no guarantees with a used unit.
Is it the tranny?
It was at this point that the owner of the vehicle Googled my service on the Internet for technical assistance. I interrogated the owner as much as I could to get all the information I needed to start building my Diagnostic Game Plan. Then I told him that I strictly work with shops but I would be willing to help him to get his problem resolved but explained to him that I needed to get the shops’ authorization to work on the car there. I called the shop and explained about my services and I had to do a second interrogation process to kind of dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”. The shop was willing to allow me to work with them but it was up to the owner of the vehicle to pay for my services. The shop was looking forward to meeting me for future support on their shop vehicles so it was a win-win situation for me but I needed to tackle this job first because I was now on proving grounds for two new parties involved with this “Salvage Audi.”