Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lioe's Automotive

How could I go wrong with a five-star rated Yelp place? Well, I can tell you how... Lioe's Automotive. After seeing so many positive reviews online for this place, I wanted to give Lioe's a try, HORRIBLE choice....

I took a much needed staycation after a couple super long couple months at work. I had a huge list of to-dos, on the top of my list was to get an emission test to renew my tabs. Unfortunately, my car did not pass, so I was told I would need to get it fixed. The print out from the Emissons Testing Center said that my oxygen sensors were malfunctioning, so they needed to be looked at. That's when I brought it into Lioe's and when my staycation ended:

9:30AM Friday - I bring my car and am greeted by Ken (from other reviews, one of the son’s of the owner, Mr. Lioe) and tell him of the issues. I ask him when I could get an estimate for the issues:

Ken: “I’ll call you when we find something”
Me: “Can you ball park it? Can you give me an estimate when you’ll know? It would be helpful.”
Ken: “We're busy, hard to say. I'll call you.”

I don't know if that's ever happened to me at a mechanic... that I couldn't get an estimate as to a time when I could get a call about an estimate. So basically, I was told I needed to be on-call for his call at anytime for the rest of the day.

11:00AM Friday - I get a call from Lioe's and they tell me that my O2 sensors need to be replaced. I question it b/c I've had a lot of other mechanics tell me that might not be source of failed emissions reading. The mechanic tells me - "it's the code on the emission test, I can't make it up". That is not reassuring. I was hoping for something like "we went through a diagnostic and validated the issue as faulty O2 sensors". The mechanic quotes me $550 + tax, firm. It seems a little pricey for what they are doing, but I'm like whatever at this point since I didn't want to run around town to get another mechanic to get this fixed.

4:30PM Friday - I go into pick up my car and I talk to the receptionist. I ask some more about the sensors and why they needed to be fixed. Again, it's not clear to me that the O2 sensors were properly diagnosed. The reason I still get is that it shows up on the readouts from the emissions testing. I go at it for a couple minutes and it still isn't clear, so I let it go. Then the receptionist tells me I have to drive around 50 miles before I can get my car re-tested again. I ask why it needs to be driven for 50 miles, she tells me b/c it needs to trigger the engines systems. I need her to clarify, but she tells me that she needs to talk to a mechanic (I believe this to be Mr. Lioe, an older gentleman who gave me the quote for the work) to explain further. Again, it's not totally clear, but I take her word. When I walk out of the office, I approach the mechanic for a further explanation.

Me: "so why do I need to drive this car 50 miles before testing?"
Mechanic:"If you want to fail, go ahead"
Me: "No, I just need an explanation"
Mechanic: "you need to drive it"
Me: "why and how long?"
Mechanic: "If you don't believe me, just go ahead"
Me: "I just need an explanation"

[explanation, finally]

5:00PM Friday - I drive my car for about 20 miles trying to reach 50 miles so I can re-test my car. The check maintenance light comes on. #$%#%#%$#%%$#!

9:30AM Saturday - I bring the car into Lioe's to see what the issue is. Mind you, I'm NOT a morning person and this is already slowly ruining my staycation. I bring it to the mechanic that had a terrible attitude the other day and tell him that my light has come back on. He goes - "we'll have to diagnose it. Leave the car". So I ask when I can get an estimate of what's wrong. He goes "well... We'll call you" Uggh!

9:40AM Saturday - I get a call from Lioe's - "come back over, we see the problem"

9:50AM Saturday - I have the following exchange w/ the mechanic:
Mechanic: "It looks like your solenoid is out".
Me: "Shouldn't this have been caught? earlier?" (WTF?)
Mechanic: "We fixed the O2 problem, this is not our problem" [He points to the readout of the OBD gauge connected to the car to show there is no longer O2 sensor error code]
Mechanic: "See, the code is P1400; it's not an O2 code"

At this point he grabs the emissions failure form from the state and looks closely at the error codes printed out. He sees that P1400 shows up on the printout.

Me: "It's right there"
Mechanic: "Well..we'll have to fix it. It will cost. The dealer is closed now, it's a dealer part. Come back Monday or maybe I'll call you".

You'll maybe call me? WTF? Shouldn’t this have been fixed this earlier?

10:00AM Monday - I call AutoLogic in Bellevue [They are SUPER helpful in explaining things] to get a second opinion. They tell me that I should just try to go to the emissions testing to pass since I’ve already spent $600 on the problems.

2:00PM Monday - I go to the emissions testing place and talk to the tester. He tells me the solenoid error WON'T impact my test, any codes starting with a one (e.g. 1400). I pass the test. Hey Lioe's! You think you could have told me that I didn't need to get the solenoid fixed?

At this point, I think I’m free to enjoy the rest of my vacation.

7:00PM Tuesday - I drive out of my parking spot and see a huge puddle of transmission fluid. @#$%^^^^$$##!

11:00AM Wednesday - I go into Lioe's with my leaking car. I have the same exchange about when I can get a diagnosis -- "We’ll give you a call". Okay, I'm on-call again.

2:30PM Wednesday - I get a call and am told that my car is leaking it would cost more money to fix.

3:30PM Wednesday - I get to Lioe's. Ken tells me that the oil leak is independent of the work they did. Obviously, there is no way I can refute his diagnosis, but all I know is that my car has NEVER leaked oil and definitely NOT before being serviced at Lioe’s. He tells me it's caused by wear and tear and that the cost of the parts to fix it would be $700 dollars alone without tax. So with labor, at least a G easy.

Thursday - Car Shopping. At this point, I'm so frustrated at all the repairs, that I'm thinking a new car might be a better option. This process sucks equally much. I spend my whole day researching at dealerships and online.

Friday 12:30PM - I go to Dere Auto on Rainier, my dad's mechanic to give it one last ditch effort. Dere's actually done a good job in the past for me, but unfortunately I wanted to see if I could get better work given the stellar Yelp reviews at Lioe's. The quote for the leak with tax&labor - $650!

Saturday 2:00PM – I pick up my car, leak free.

Summary: Don’t go to Lioe’s. They lack any communication skills, quote high, ruin cars, and most importantly, ruin vacations.


  1. I think this is my 3rd time trying to post a comment. Your emissions problem has nothing to do with oil leaks from your steering rack and oil pressure switch. Dere Auto estimate is not far off from ours since their Labor rate is less. You haven't accounted for that lesser rate. Making phone calls and leaving estimates is a normal thing that happens every day. As with your emissions we can't control the fact you have to drive the car 20-50 miles or 2-3 days to reset the computer. That's emissions rules. Your car had 3-4 items wrong with it. You only repaired 2 of them. Quite possibly why the engine light came back on. When car was checked a 2nd time there was no charge. We can not control that. As for Dere Auto we know them well, they know us well and we have great relationship back and forth.

  2. BTW steering rack and oil pressure switch leaks due to age and rubber shrinking, expanding and cracking. Leaks like that don't happen over night but happen over time.