I don’t “trust the Midas touch” anymore!

Skyye Watson’s Nissan Rogue vibrated when she stepped on the gas pedal, an annoying but fixable problem. In the process, her faith in Midas has been shaken — and despite our advocacy team’s best efforts, we can’t repair the damage.

Watson’s case is a reminder that major auto repairs are sometimes best performed at your dealership. If you try to save a little money by going to a third party, at least take the advice of the mechanic with a chaser of skepticism. (Don’t worry — if you run out, we have an endless supply right here on this site, and it’s completely free.)

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After discovering the acceleration issue, Watson visited her Nissan dealership, which diagnosed the problem in the driveshaft. A mechanic recommended she replace the driveshaft.

In an effort to save a few dollars, Watson drove her car to her Midas franchise and asked it to perform the work.

“I very explicitly asked for this to be done and explained why,” she says. “They told me they had to run their own diagnostic test before proceeding, which I allowed.”

Midas disputed her dealership’s diagnosis. Her driveshaft was “100 percent fine” and didn’t need to be removed, according to a representative. Instead, it was the front axles causing the problem.

Fine, she said. Midas charged her $770 for the work.

And you can probably guess what happened next. The vibrating continued.

Midas said two new tires would fix the vibrations, so Watson agreed to buy two new tires elsewhere.

“The vibrating was still present after getting two new tires,” she says.

Midas wasn’t done diagnosing her car. Next, it blamed her transmission. A Midas rep said her dealership had cut corners when it replaced her transmission a few months before, recycling old parts. She checked with the dealership and it insisted it had used all-new parts.

“I returned to Midas again and requested that they remove [sic] my driveshaft, as I had originally asked for,” she says. “Finally, the vibrating stopped.”

If Midas had done what Watson originally requested, then she wouldn’t be $770 lighter.

She asked for a refund, both by phone and in writing, but Midas refused, saying “there is no reason” for it to return her money.

To the advocates reading this, Watson’s case looked like a case of mechanical malpractice — a direct contradiction of Midas’ reputation for “service, quality, and reliability.” In fact, Midas claims to guarantee its work, although we noted the little asterisk.

So our advocates were not at all surprised when Midas refused to respond to our enquiries about Watson’s case. Total radio silence. I guess it thought its response to Watson was enough communication.

And in a way, it was. We now know that the Midas guarantee and mission statement are just words that the company won’t stand behind. And now Watson knows that when it comes to car repairs, she should stick with her dealership’s advice.

Update (4/15): After this story published, we heard from Watson:

After Midas failed to respond to your efforts, the advocate working with me suggested I send a demand letter, which I did.

I received a call from the new regional manager who worked really hard to get approval for my refund. I have now received approval for a partial refund for the cost of the labor which is what I originally asked for. The new regional manager was great and I just wanted to let you guys know that it has since been resolved!

I love a happy ending!

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12 thoughts on “I don’t “trust the Midas touch” anymore!

  1. Well, she can’t get the money for the tires back, since she bought them elsewhere, but I would have thought that the axles that didn’t need replacing might be grounds for a credit card dispute. They made a wrong diagnosis and replaced parts unnecessarily.

    I don’t agree that this is necessarily a reason to go to the dealership; powertrain vibrations are something any decent mechanic should be able to diagnose, and dealership mechanics are as likely to screw it up as anybody. That said, I would not have taken the car to Midas for this sort of work; they don’t even advertise themselves as a general-purpose repair shop, just routine wear-part type stuff. (Oil Changes, Brakes, Suspension, Exhaust, Cooling, A/C, tires, etc.)

    (Random Tip: If there’s a possibility a problem might be caused by tires, unless there’s something obviously wrong with them, see if a simple tire rotation fixes (or changes) the issue before buying new ones.)

    1. you hit the nail on the head … “any decent mechanic.” I have a local mechanic (not a national chain) with whom I have done business for over 20 years. I trust their expertise and the fact that they know what they don’t know. I go to the dealer for “major” services (100,000 mile, etc.) as, sometimes, the dealerships are aware of or notice things that a non-dealer shop might not. But never, under any circumstances, use one of those national chains for anything … even an oil change. I gave up trusting Midas when they worked on a friends brakes and forgot to tighten the lug nuts so her front passenger side tire separated from the car as she pulled out of Midas’ parking lot!

      1. Yes – I second this!

        I have a friend that got her oil changed at Jiffy Lube and mentioned to me that she had replaced the air filter at every single oil change. We’re talking 3 times in about a year. They took it out and told her it looked dirty and she’d better replace it. I kindly explained (not in these exact words) that they were ripping her off. So the next time she goes back – she had a coupon (which I note only incentivizes them to upsell you) – they again tried the same thing. She said no, thankfully. I’ve heard lots of the franchise oil change places do this kind of stuff. Be forewarned.

      2. Firestone stripped the thread when using a power tool to replace the oil drain plug in my sump so the plug would just turn and turn. A new sump was $900. The quality of work at main dealers is hit or miss, but these national chains are just too big a risk.

    2. I would add to your random tip to first check the pressure in the tires. It seems like common sense, but I’ve always been amazed by how little some people that own one know about cars. Yes – have them rotated. But often minor issues occur when the car’s tires aren’t at the proper psi – which is written on a sticker on the inside of the drivers door. First-hand, I’ve seen people that didn’t know the sticker even existed.

  2. I really don’t know how to say this nicely. If you don’t know what you’re doing, find someone that does. I know enough about cars not to get ripped off – I come from a family of mechanics and car enthusiasts. It blows my mind when people take the the word of a stranger, in a business known for scamming people, and outlay hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    A free diagnostic is a huge red flag. Most reputable mechanics that you’re not related to won’t diagnose the problem without being paid. The cost of the diagnostic is applied to the cost of any repair needed. You really need to do your due diligence when selecting a mechanic for non-warranty work especially. Ask around – someone knows a reputable mechanic. As a general rule, I would also recommend against going anywhere that has a deal to offer financing through a super high interest credit card.

    I know this is sexist, but bring a guy with you. My husband (who’s an engineer by trade, oddly enough) doesn’t know the first thing about cars. I know significantly more than he does – I can change oil, brake pads, I always change the bulbs, etc. And I used to bring him with me because they generally treated me differently when he was there. I found a great mechanic since I moved and that isn’t necessary anymore, but I’d recommend it if you don’t know the mechanic. And again, yes I know it’s sexist. But it’s been proven places will try to charge women more/rip them off. Like I said, I know more than my husband. But the mechanic didn’t know that.

    In short, ask co-workers, family and friends. Don’t explicitly trust what the first guy tells you.

    1. Actually, my former mechanic (he moved) did free diagnostics. It was with the understanding that if you took his free diagnostic and did the repair yourself (or elsewhere), you weren’t welcome back as a customer. (I do DIY my cars, and I did ask him to confirm something once, but it was during a larger repair job I was already having him do.)

  3. I’ve had incorrect information from actually two dealerships on two cars upon occasion too. And I have had good results from Midas. And I’ve been given false information and an absurd solution designed only to cost money by a Jiffy Lube. Thousands of people work at dealerships and at Midas Like places. To give the advice to just go to the dealer makes no sense. It is a case by case thing. She should have gotten the axles undone right away when they didn’t fix the problem.

  4. I would ask to see the ASE certifications of the Midas employees. My guess, they don’t have them. One guy probably does (to be legal) but the lube techs and guys who did the work probably don’t. And there’s a problem right there….un-certified guys working on a car.

  5. After decades of getting ripped off by mechanics, I’m getting my degree in auto repair right now, and will be taking the ASE tests, so I know a little more than average about this. ASE certification is not necessarily a legal requirement for mechanics; it is mostly bragging rights for a shop to set them apart from other shops. Certification is no guarantee that the mechanic knows how to do anything but take a written test and not get fired from their job: translating book learning to application is not easy for some people, and while certification requires on-the-job experience, it doesn’t mean those were stellar years for the mechanic. Finally, even if the shop proclaims 100% ASE certification, it allows for uncertified mechanics in training to do work under the supervision of ASE certified supervisors.

    The only way to be certain that you are not getting ripped off is to become an educated consumer. Know the difference between a starter and an alternator (something a mechanic tried to switch on me once). Google the symptoms your car is having, or at least google the diagnosis and see if that part would cause those symptoms. It’s your money that’s on the line, so ask questions. Insist on seeing the parts that are supposedly bad. Ask the mechanic to explain how they reached the conclusions they did for the diagnostics. My instructors all teach that a good mechanic has nothing to hide and should be ready to show-and-tell a customer exactly what is wrong and how they’re going to fix it. It may take time out of their work to do so, but it is time well-invested in potential future sales, as a customer who trusts their mechanic will come back for years… and tell their friends and family about it as well.

    And remember, there will always be someone who graduates last in their class and just barely passes the certification tests. They will get hired at little independent shops and big dealerships alike, and you can’t tell the C- student from the A+ student on looks alone. Do your homework!

  6. We recently used the local midatlantic AAA car care shop for two different problems. They did fine on the first problem, but in fixing the second, they damaged the steering somehow, so it makes a noise everytime the car turns. The person disclaimed responsibility so at somepoint soon, we’ll probably have to have the dealer fix AAA’s mistake. I wish I just had paid the dealer to take care of both problems. It would have cost more initially, but we wouldn’t have had the steering issue that AAA caused.

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