Car A/C keeps breaking down. I’m worried I’m getting the runaround.

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Jun 11, 2017
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#1
I don’t know how to approach the dealer with this complaint. I’ve already paid $1700 for repairs. It’s a Hyundai Sonata 2014. Car is serviced at the Hyundai dealer. None of the local independent repair shops have reliable reputations which is why I take it to the dealer.

Supposedly they do “Dye tests” to find the leak.

First I was told it was leaky hoses. A week later it was broken again.

Then I was told it was the compressor and some kind of valve. A week later it’s broken again.

Car is out of warranty. I can’t afford a new one. Obviously something is wrong. After replacing all that other stuff, I can’t keep paying out until they finally fix what’s wrong.

What’s the best way to negotiate this? There is no way for me to prove that the other repairs were unnecessary. I expect them to tell me those repairs WERE necessary and now I need something else.

I’ve never had a situation like this before. How do I get the car fixed without emptying my bank account?

Thanks for any suggestions.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,214
2,560
113
Maui Hawaii
#2
I don’t know how to approach the dealer with this complaint. I’ve already paid $1700 for repairs. It’s a Hyundai Sonata 2014. Car is serviced at the Hyundai dealer. None of the local independent repair shops have reliable reputations which is why I take it to the dealer.

Supposedly they do “Dye tests” to find the leak.

First I was told it was leaky hoses. A week later it was broken again.

Then I was told it was the compressor and some kind of valve. A week later it’s broken again.

Car is out of warranty. I can’t afford a new one. Obviously something is wrong. After replacing all that other stuff, I can’t keep paying out until they finally fix what’s wrong.

What’s the best way to negotiate this? There is no way for me to prove that the other repairs were unnecessary. I expect them to tell me those repairs WERE necessary and now I need something else.

I’ve never had a situation like this before. How do I get the car fixed without emptying my bank account?

Thanks for any suggestions.
Look for an independent shop that specializes in air conditioning. They exist in most cities.
 
Jun 11, 2017
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#3
Thanks for this very wise suggestion. In hindsight, this is what I should have done. In the meantime, I’ve already paid the dealer $1700 and my ac is still broken. I’m wondering what I can do about this.

Thanks again.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
It is reasonable, I think, to ask if the compressor and hoses were "truly damaged". I they say yes, I would ask for a written diagnosis. If they say instead that it was a "logical next step" or something similar, it was likely a guess. Since the problem is not yet fixed, I would respectfully ask for a refund. They might counter with a partial refund.
 
Likes: jsn55
Jun 24, 2019
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#5
Thanks for this very wise suggestion. In hindsight, this is what I should have done. In the meantime, I’ve already paid the dealer $1700 and my ac is still broken. I’m wondering what I can do about this.

Thanks again.
There is a tension in car repairs. As consumers, we expect to go into a dealer or other specialist in that brand and have the problem solved, especially for $1,700. Dealers and independent shops, on the other hand, have the view that they do their best to diagnose the problem, and there may be a cascading series of problems.

I would write an e-mail (to make a record) to the dealer, tell the dealer (politely) you are bringing the car in one last time, and you expect the problem to be solved, all without additional charge. I would copy the manufacturer, even though you are out of warranty, using the contacts available on this site. The manufacturer has identified that dealer as expert in cars of this brand. If the dealer balks, you've documented your attempt to let the dealer actually solve the problem. Then find a reputable independent mechanic and get the problem solved.

In most states, dealers and repair shops are licensed. After you have had the problem fixed, bring the facts to the attention of the licensing body. In California, for example, that would be the Bureau of Automotive Repair. I would also work my way up the chain on the contacts on this site: Dear Manufacturer: I took my car into your franchised dealer to repair a broken air conditioner. After x visits and $1,700, your franchised dealer was unable to solve the problem.

Good luck.
 
Jun 11, 2017
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#6
Thanks for your reply, VoR61. Your suggestions are very logical but I’m going to assume the service manager will say the parts were truly damaged. What else would he say?

They did call me before the repairs to get my okay. I’m just sick about the expense which was probably unnecessary if I’m still having the same exact problem.

I’m just worried they’re going to tell me now it’s the evaporator which is about $1500.

Maybe they would give me a break on the price if it is the evaporator.

I’ve checked for an auto ac repair place near me. There’s several of them. But all of them have very ugly reviews.

:-(
 
Likes: VoR61
Jun 11, 2017
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#8
A big part of the problem with car repairs is that the average person has no way of knowing if the repair shop has correctly identified the problem. It really is a matter of good faith.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,214
2,560
113
Maui Hawaii
#9
Thanks for this very wise suggestion. In hindsight, this is what I should have done. In the meantime, I’ve already paid the dealer $1700 and my ac is still broken. I’m wondering what I can do about this.

Thanks again.
Go to the independent AC shop and ask them to find out what is wrong and if there is any reason to think that the other repairs performed by the dealer were needed. If they were not, go back to the dealer and ask firmly but politely for a credit for future other needed services. Asking for a refund is not likely to be met with a "yes". The dealer can offer you a retail service credit and it costs them their shop costs which are lower, but you still come out with a retail credit.

You may have heard this before, but in the car repair industry outside the dealer network, dealers are known as "stealers".

When I buy a new car I take it to the dealer ONLY for warranty claims. Except for the first 1000 mi service, my cars all go to my independent specialty mechanic for everything, even under warranty.

If you have not done so, google "Hyundai Sonata 2014 air conditioning problems". You might find out that the AC is a problem with your model car affecting many cars. Then you can go to the manufacturer.
 
Last edited:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
19,717
18,384
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
Thanks for your reply, VoR61. Your suggestions are very logical but I’m going to assume the service manager will say the parts were truly damaged. What else would he say?

They did call me before the repairs to get my okay. I’m just sick about the expense which was probably unnecessary if I’m still having the same exact problem.

I’m just worried they’re going to tell me now it’s the evaporator which is about $1500.

Maybe they would give me a break on the price if it is the evaporator.

I’ve checked for an auto ac repair place near me. There’s several of them. But all of them have very ugly reviews.

:-(
If you take the car back, tell them you want to see any parts they replace.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,661
8,963
113
San Francisco
#11
Go to the independent AC shop and ask them to find out what is wrong and if there is any reason to think that the other repairs performed by the dealer were needed. If they were not, go back to the dealer and ask firmly but politely for a credit for future other needed services. Asking for a refund is not likely to be met with a "yes". The dealer can offer you a retail service credit and it costs them their shop costs which are lower, but you still come out with a retail credit.

You may have heard this before, but in the car repair industry outside the dealer network, dealers are known as "stealers".

When I buy a new car I take it to the dealer ONLY for warranty claims. Except for the first 1000 mi service, my cars all go to my independent specialty mechanic for everything, even under warranty.

If you have not done so, google "Hyundai Sonata 2014 air conditioning problems". You might find out that the AC is a problem with your model car affecting many cars. Then you can go to the manufacturer.
Absolutely agree with VoR. Dealers are not to be trusted for service under any circumstances. And frankly, they're worse with women; I am fairly knowledgeble about vehicles, but they still try to run me around the playground when I have the misfortune to have to deal with them on service. I've never had a problem paying my mechanic for something that could be done under warranty. I want whatever fixed, and fixed properly. I keep my vehicles forever, the shortest time was ten years on a Chevy Blazer ... my husband ran it with the oil light on while I was out of town. So proper maintenance and repair is very important. This is a really awful problem, and I sympathize with your plight. I hope that you are able to get some satisfaction out of these people. But you just have to find a good independent mechanic going forward.
 
Likes: ADM
Jun 11, 2017
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#12
Thanks again to everyone for your contributions. At least now I have a few new approaches in mind.

Car dealers are always one step ahead of the customer in both sales and repairs.

Even if the dealer gave me back the broken parts, I would have no way of knowing if they were really broken or if they really came from MY car.

I like the idea of asking for some kind of credit if they won’t give me a refund....which is likely not happening.

I will also research the internet for ac problems with my car.

In earlier days, I used to know all about engine repairs. Dad taught me. But cars have become so much more complicated and sophisticated and with all the “computer” stuff, it’s much more difficult for me to keep up.

And it’s true, dealers are much more slimy when it comes to dealing with women. I’ve been buying my own cars since I was 18 years old and I always go into the dealership with my combat boots.

I might just have to accept the outcome that this is a lesson learned and be very thankful it’s only a car that’s sick and not a person.

I will take all of your suggestions very seriously. I have asked friends for recommendations for independent repair shops in the area. I cannot print their replies here.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
19,717
18,384
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#13
We have a trusted mechanic that does all the work on our cars but we recently took my wife’s car to the dealer when we were concerned with an issue that was major and we hoped it would be covered under warranty.

The dealer said it just needed a computer update, did it and two days later the car didn’t start again. Took it back to the dealer and they kept it for four days and never looked at it. We picked it back up and said we’ll never go back to the dealer again. Our mechanic knew exactly what the problem was and we haven’t had a problem since.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#15
I second Weihlac's suggestion if you haven't done it. And search for it in different phrasings and search the year or two before/ after your year.

I had an a/c problem in my Hyundai elantra 2009 (all the a/c related lights would go out and it'd stop working randomly and for an indeterminate but gradually lengthening time) and my father, who does everything but tires on our entire family's cars, and I would brainstorm but couldn't quite come up with a good thing to try. Until one of the more detailed convo happened around my mom... who used her superior Google skills to find the answer we failed to. $25 and 5 months later and my a/c has been running fine.
 
Nov 1, 2017
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#17
Look for an independent shop that specializes in air conditioning. They exist in most cities.
Franchised dealers invest all their money in building the giant glass palaces that the manufacturers demand to showcase their products - not in hiring genius technical staff. They can change oil and swap components over but that's about it. Once your car is out of warranty private specialists are the only place to go.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jun 11, 2017
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#19
WONDERFUL NEWS: Hyundai is going to make all the necessary repairs AT NO CHARGE.

This is what happened: I usually get repairs at the dealer while under warranty. But this was the first repair after the end of the warranty so I decided to try a local repair shop that someone recommended. They diagnosed a broken evaporator and gave me a written estimate that looked more like a telephone number. YIKES!

The shop explained that a lot of the high charge was for labor because it was “an all day job” and the evaporator is “buried deep in the engine” and they have to remove so many parts to replace it.

I wanted another opinion. And I was also concerned about the ability of a local shop to put all those engine parts that had to be removed back in the right places!

So I decided to get an estimate from the dealer. I showed the dealer the estimate for the evaporator from the local shop. After inspecting the car, the dealer swore to me it was NOT the evaporator but it was the compressor. SWORE to me!

Replacing the compressor was a LOT less money than replacing the evaporator. So I decided to let Hyundai do the work. And they SWORE to me it was definitely the compressor.

Three days later the AC quit again. I knew I had to confront the dealer. I’m not a confrontational person and I wasn’t sure how to do something like this so that’s when I contacted your forum.

I followed the advice from your posters to send a polite email saying that I was going to give them another chance to fix the problem correctly and at no charge.

I also researched the history of AC problems on my vehicle but really couldn’t find anything specific.

When I showed up at the dealer and explained the problem to the “Greeter,” he tried to tell me that my car must have hit an object in the road that caused a NEW problem and I only THINK it’s the same previous problem.

I said “DON’T EVEN GO THERE.”

I then spoke to the service manager who promised to “make things right.”

And SHE DID.....make it right!

I think It helped that I waved the written estimate from the local repair shop saying it was a broken EVAPORATOR.

When the dealer inspected the car again, the manager sheepishly admitted they found a broken evaporator. But they STILL INSIST that the compressor WAS broken ALSO. (And I’m the tooth fairy.)

She gave me a whole explanation of why they didn’t find the broken evaporator in the first place. To me it was a lot of double talk. But I don’t care as long as they’re fixing it for FREE. I figure they were trying to “save face” with this ridiculous excuse.

Anyway, this outcome has renewed some of my faith in mankind and I THANK YOU ALL for kindly assisting me through this adventure. I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about car repairs. But I’m sure it will be very helpful in the future.

Wishing you all happy travels....by car or whatever.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,661
8,963
113
San Francisco
#20
WONDERFUL NEWS: Hyundai is going to make all the necessary repairs AT NO CHARGE.

This is what happened: I usually get repairs at the dealer while under warranty. But this was the first repair after the end of the warranty so I decided to try a local repair shop that someone recommended. They diagnosed a broken evaporator and gave me a written estimate that looked more like a telephone number. YIKES!

The shop explained that a lot of the high charge was for labor because it was “an all day job” and the evaporator is “buried deep in the engine” and they have to remove so many parts to replace it.

I wanted another opinion. And I was also concerned about the ability of a local shop to put all those engine parts that had to be removed back in the right places!

So I decided to get an estimate from the dealer. I showed the dealer the estimate for the evaporator from the local shop. After inspecting the car, the dealer swore to me it was NOT the evaporator but it was the compressor. SWORE to me!

Replacing the compressor was a LOT less money than replacing the evaporator. So I decided to let Hyundai do the work. And they SWORE to me it was definitely the compressor.

Three days later the AC quit again. I knew I had to confront the dealer. I’m not a confrontational person and I wasn’t sure how to do something like this so that’s when I contacted your forum.

I followed the advice from your posters to send a polite email saying that I was going to give them another chance to fix the problem correctly and at no charge.

I also researched the history of AC problems on my vehicle but really couldn’t find anything specific.

When I showed up at the dealer and explained the problem to the “Greeter,” he tried to tell me that my car must have hit an object in the road that caused a NEW problem and I only THINK it’s the same previous problem.

I said “DON’T EVEN GO THERE.”

I then spoke to the service manager who promised to “make things right.”

And SHE DID.....make it right!

I think It helped that I waved the written estimate from the local repair shop saying it was a broken EVAPORATOR.

When the dealer inspected the car again, the manager sheepishly admitted they found a broken evaporator. But they STILL INSIST that the compressor WAS broken ALSO. (And I’m the tooth fairy.)

She gave me a whole explanation of why they didn’t find the broken evaporator in the first place. To me it was a lot of double talk. But I don’t care as long as they’re fixing it for FREE. I figure they were trying to “save face” with this ridiculous excuse.

Anyway, this outcome has renewed some of my faith in mankind and I THANK YOU ALL for kindly assisting me through this adventure. I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about car repairs. But I’m sure it will be very helpful in the future.

Wishing you all happy travels....by car or whatever.
This is absolutely ASTONISHING. Thanks so much for letting us know that some knowledge and a firm stance just might make a dealership problem go away. Well done! I am VERY impressed.