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Old 03-19-2012, 12:23 PM   #1
Zachnorn
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How difficult/expensive is it to replace a thermostat?

This topic explains most of my problems; I decided to make a new one to avoid double posting and bumping an old thread: http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=276215

I went to two mechanics, and one said that my 2002 Focus ZX3 Zetec did not need a new thermostat as long as I am still getting any heat (even though my gauge reads that it is cold) and refused to replace it. Another told me that all thermostat replacements in Focuses require the housing to be replaced as well, which would be $170 in parts and labor (they barely looked at my car). I'm aware that a thermostat costs about $10, and I don't know if replacing the housing every time is really necessary in these cars. I have the feeling that this place was trying to rip me off, especially since the first mechanic said I have no coolant leaks from a pressure check. How much should it cost for me to get a mechanic to replace the thermostat?

Another thing I could do is try the repair myself. I repair and build computers as a side thing, but I don't know if those skills would help me at all with car repair. I've never done anything more advanced than adding oil and coolant. Would it be a good idea for me to try to replace my thermostat myself with a guide online?

Thanks for your help!



Last edited by Zachnorn; 03-19-2012 at 12:27 PM. Reason: More information
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:36 PM   #2
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actually the housing is a common leaking point.

the whole thing is very easy to do though. you should be able to do it.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:53 PM   #3
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Just bear in mind you are working with a plastic housing. That means you run the attaching bolts in till they bump solid AND STOP THERE. If you try to torque the cover like normal you will break it hands down every time. Also make sure the stat is installed with the bleed hole facing straight up elsewise you'll trap air in the system.

'all thermostat replacements in Focuses require the housing to be replaced'

That's a good one...............LOL.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:07 AM   #4
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Honestly, As a "commercial" mechanic, I'd NEVER replace a thermostat in a Focus without doing the housing as well - just because I wouldn't want to do it again for free & buy the customer a new housing myself when it leaked....

What you can do yourself, and re-do if it doesn't work right, is different than what you can do when dealing with a customer that expects a perfect repair the FIRST time....
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:10 AM   #5
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I've done a goodly number of them, and virtually no housings unless it gave up and cracked on its' own. That can happen to a new part. Seen it.

You can stick a $1 steel washer in there to shim up tightness when slight crush drops off and part leaks a bit even with new o-ring. I've got my personal car now running like that, been that way for years. Doesn't leak a drop.

The thought that they expect it perfect first time is good justification for say charging for entire power steering system instead of looking for the small fluid leak. After all, it's not the mech's money right?
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:35 AM   #6
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Preaching to the choir amc, that's why I'm NOT a "commercial" mechanic.

MUCH too "honest" to want to work that way...

How much money, and how soon will it be fixed, are the only concerns of most customers.

Bass ackwards as it seems to a real mechanic (as it seems you are, from the posts I've seen), MANY customers, if not MOST, would rather pay for that entire steering system than "take a chance" on a minor repair that MAY be all that's really needed....

Until you've diagnosed an issue, you can't estimate a repair.

Until you've DONE the repair, and tested it to make sure it solved the problem & that there are no OTHER issues, you can't say it's fixed.

Two KEY points that VERY few customers want to hear, and even fewer are happy with - even if they understand them!

Cheers!
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:35 PM   #7
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Oh so true, and the major reason I did not accept Dad's offer of the garage business when I was younger.

Customer expectations show the level of knowledge they have and not a pretty picture either. Just quit working for one of the big 2 auto parts guys, used to work for Chief Auto also back in '80. The one constant is that although the cars have gotten much more intricate, the people working on them have not kept pace. It got utterly depressing taking back supposed part after part that was 'bad', when absolutely not a thing wrong with it. Thousands of dollars lost every week to this. I became convinced that I was in the wrong business, the customers were our biggest liability. Even many of the so-called factory trained mechs were doing it. The part vendors absolutely hated our return policies and no wonder, we were basically driving them out of business because we wouldn't carry on morally correct transactions. All the company wanted was to 'please the customer' in any way necessary, they did not view losing money as a problem at all. Any time I brought up the subject in manager get togethers you should have seen the looks I got. 'He's not from our planet, is he?' comes to mind. I learned quickly to just grit my teeth and shut up.

The term 'lifetime warranty' will bankrupt many before someone figures out not to say it. I had people come in with 'bad' $200 alternators 3-5 times a year and we gave new parts out without hardly any hassle at all. I actually was reported to corporate more than once when I would simply ask the logical questions necessary to try to cure the repetitive problem. Not giving good service they would say. I maintain that is the reason why a $40 alternator now costs $200, parts prices are now too high to cover the ineptitude factor now so prevalent in the industry.

Another one is the 'requirement to keep or have a receipt is obsolete' statement and policy. Anytime a guy buys something and 2 weeks later comes back with it as a return and now does not have a receipt (they generally lose the receipt in FIVE minutes!) we were required to do the due diligence to pursue the transaction history. If he lost the receipt, odds are high he can't truly remember which store he bought it at either. Personal responsibility out to lunch here. We would spend 30 minutes or more of non-productive money losing time in the interest of 'customer service' and it happened so much it was breathtaking. 40% of the time to find the guy was lying about the purchase. The dumber the customer was, the more customer service was thrown at him it seemed. Thus making the worst customer you could find a regular who you could rely on to waste your company treasure virtually every time he stepped into the store.

I had to get out. It was beginning to tilt my judgement. I saw no future there, it was all being fed into the maw of the customer service monster with no good result coming back to me at all.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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I disagree on the lifetime parts. You know how cheap it is to put together spark plug wires since you worked for Chief. Now you mentioned alternators. Well, there's a formula for that from the guys who invented lifetime alternators: Autozone. They get those rebuilt so cheaply that you'd have to trade in like 10 for them to lose money. They buy all the parts in bulk, and repair only what's needed- it's lifetime warranty- right? All the rest is marketing. The Zone is HQed here, so .... I know.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
Honestly, As a "commercial" mechanic, I'd NEVER replace a thermostat in a Focus without doing the housing as well - just because I wouldn't want to do it again for free & buy the customer a new housing myself when it leaked....

What you can do yourself, and re-do if it doesn't work right, is different than what you can do when dealing with a customer that expects a perfect repair the FIRST time....
Couldn't agree more. There's enough aggravation to go around just replacing the stat after you move stuff out of the way to get at it. From what I have read the housing has a limited life, so if it isn't leaking now, it will soon after the repair is completed simply because 'Murphy' oversees every repair. You're there, might as well replace it. Job '1' done!
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:12 AM   #10
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Tell me how the lifetime part thing works out if you do your own repairs. Most people break more stuff in doing that supposed 'free because it's lifetime' part changeout. True, the new parts are not fully rebuilt, so how does that enable a $200 price tag??? I myself from time to time found defective parts right out of the box, you gotta wonder who was doing the work. My point is that people who embrace lifetime parts ARE PAYING TOO MUCH, you have dragged us all into that morass by going for it. I saw direct costing for those parts, they begin to lose money after about the 3rd one. Are you willing to change 10 of them and still be satisfied you got a good deal? The vendors are fighting back by bumping their prices up higher and higher, they cannot support returns that are either good or broken on install and claimed as broken in box. It was a huge problem.

'......and repair only what's needed- it's lifetime warranty- right?'

My point exactly. The two phrases do NOT belong in the same sentence.........when they are you are being scammed, and in this case apparently loving it.

I rebuilt my last 2 Focus alts (one for each car) myself for like $20, they have run well for a good while now. Lemmesee, that's $330 saved on just TWO PARTS. I got paid more per hour than I'll ever make at any job in my life, one reason why I fix my own stuff.
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