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Old 10-31-2015, 03:49 PM   #1
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Angry Service Problem?

I have a friend who recently purchased a used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire with 36k miles. She has been driving it for about four months. Last Thursday, she took it to an auto shop for a standard service, and they told her that the alternator belt needed to be replaced. They changed the part, but immediately after the service, her "check brake" light came on, and the brakes began responding sluggishly, requiring a great deal of pressure in order to stop.

The next day, she took the car to a different auto shop, and they said that the bottom of the car was thoroughly rusted, as though it had been sitting in snow. This would be a problem from before the used sale. The brake line, they said, had also rusted, and its failure was only a matter of time.

My question is, what are the chances that the brake line would fail immediately after the standard service? Is there any way that changing the alternator belt could cause that part to break down if it was on its last leg already? Or is it more likely that the first service shop (not an entirely reputable one) did something unwise, or damaged the part and blamed the general condition of the car? They are claiming that the car isn't worth fixing, so the question of whether the service shop might be liable is important.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-31-2015, 05:47 PM   #2
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Re: Service Problem?

The fact is J-bodies are junk and the subframes rot on about all of them.

The chances of the alternator belt change having anything to do with the brake line are slim to none. If they are as rusty as the second shop says then it was just nothing more than a coincidence.

It doesn't sound like your friend is mechanically inclined and bought the car in good faith, thinking low mileage meant good condition, without having someone with more knowledge look it over. This is a good example of "Buyer Beware."

A 97 Sunfire is probably worth about $1000 on a good day, regardless of the mileage. If it is rotted that bad, junk it and start over.
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Old 08-25-2017, 09:42 PM   #3
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Re: Service Problem?

maybe when they lifted the car in the air they crushed a brake line. just a thought. because they do lift the cars from the pinch welds!
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Old 10-25-2017, 08:57 AM   #4
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Re: Service Problem?

A 1997 car is quite old. It is very likely that the mechanics lifted the car to service it and to change the alternator belt. An old car does give a lot of problem and since there is a lot of rust, its better to get it changed. I think you should think of getting the car changed. It is too old.
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Old 10-27-2017, 03:21 AM   #5
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Re: Service Problem?

Never, I mean NEVER buy a used car without looking underneath!! They tell you it is nice- but it can be rusted entirely underneath- which can cause all the issues you are experiencing. Fuel lines, brake lines, and anything else will fail If rusty bought junk!
Automotive A/C Engineer with:
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'94 Astro- 370k miles
'94 Firebird Formula- 5.7L 180k miles- gone-
'92 Chevy Lumina Van 3.8L 264k
'86 GMC S-15 - 2.8L 154k
'87 Buick Park Ave . 187k
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