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LELAND, NC (WWAY) — A common complaint we hear from viewers concerns mechanics and the work they do. One couple contacted us about a repair job they claim they never authorized, but had to pay for anyway.

James Mills and his wife Elnora own a 1993 Chevy Corsica. When it started sputtering, they took it to Wayne’s World of Tires in Leland.

“He told us how much it would cost,” Elnora said. “$250.”

But that quickly changed when body shop owner Wayne Smalls told them it needed a new head.

“So he went on, got another head,” Elnora said. “I approved for that, but the other stuff he bought for the car we did not approve.”

The bill tallied $650. The Millses say they were shocked. They claim they were never told repairs would cost that much.

We called Wayne’s World of Tires. Smalls did not want to go on camera. He says he told the couple how much it cost. He also said the bill should have been even higher, but he gave them a deal.

Elnora Mills paid the bill, but she says the car still isn’t fixed.

“When we stop, we’ve got to put it in neutral to where we can go with it, but it’s so dangerous for us to be on the road with that car right now,” she said.

Smalls claims he’s looked at the car since then and has fixed some things free of charge, but the issues the car has now have nothing to do with his repairs.

It’s a sticky situation when both parties claim they’re right. That’s why if you ever drop off your car for repairs, it’s always a good idea to understand the Motor Vehicle Repair Act:

•The repair shop should give you a written estimate and ask you to sign an authorization for the repair.
•The repair shop may not exceed the cost you authorized by more than 10 percent without first getting your permission.
•If the problem is unknown, the repair shop must tell you how much it will cost to diagnose the problem. Once they’ve diagnosed the problem, the shop must contact you with an estimate and to get authorization to do the work.

As for the Millses, they have contacted the Better Business Bureau.

Smalls still claims he’s right. No word on whether he’s going to respond to the letter he received from the BBB.

Comment on this Story

  • Joe Matakonis

    Stay away from atlantic auto. Went if for a simple inspection. Four hours later this mechanic named “mike” told me he was running tests on my engine that would cost about 75.00 an hour WITHOUT first consulting with me. I left without paying that fee and took my car someplace else and it passed no problem. Mechanic there stated everything was fine and there was no need for any kind of “tests”.

  • Kim Lewis

    They just had something on goodmorning america this am about this!Me and my husband have been taken advantage of acouple of times.The mechanics that did this to us committed suicide!We are in a tough economy and I know everyone is hurting,but there is no excuse for being dishonest!They even showed dealerships taken advantage of people!And if your a woman,they think you are idots and do not know any better.Thank god my dad taught me some things when it comes to cars!I donot play these games!

  • jim kuehner

    Outside of finding a good doctor and dentist the next is finding an honest car mechanic. After going through several scammers I found the guy. Tim at Avery’s auto on Oleander is the best. The prices are right, the service is excellent and the product is superior.

  • RSimmons

    I was a service manager in a car dealership for several years. If someone came in with a 18- 19 year old car like a Corsica we would not work on it. At that age and presumably high mileage everything is wearing out at about the same time. It becomes a never ending cycle of expensive repairs on a car that is only worth a few hundred dollars. The car owners in these situations seldom have the funds to pay for a proper repair so the shop ends up stuck with car, on TV, or in claims court.

  • Guest7969

    had she gone to the STEALership…it would have been a NEW engine..they would have never offered the head gasket repair. It’s why I REFUSE to use the dealerships! So what your saying is if I drive into Nissan with a 1984 300ZX Turbo…with low miles they shouldn’t work on it?

  • Guest327

    I see a lot of you have been brainwashed into believing that just because a car is old it is not worth fixing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My daily driver is a ’93 model car. I would not hesitate to drive it anywhere. I once bought a 12 year old Dodge van with well over 100,000 miles. I drove it 11 more years and another 100,000 miles. When I sold it, the new owner immediately drove it to Florida. With the cost of newer vehicles, financing if you can’t pay cash and the added insurance, it still makes sense to fix the old ones. $650.00 for replacing a head was quite reasonable, however.

  • Brian

    $650 is a BARGAIN to replace a head gasket. The minimum that I’d expect to pay for that work is $1000. These folks need to just pay up and get their car back. Did the mechanic mis-diagnose it? Maybe so, but they did authorize the head gasket replacement afterwards. The mechanic and shop did them a favor by giving them a huge discount. It’s also obvious that they have not maintained their car as they should have, and now they’re trying to blame other pre-existing problems on the work that had just been done. If I were the shop owner, I’d see about having them charged with extortion. Quit whining.

  • Guestuncw11

    Its from 1993! Really you wanted to fix it? Why would you do that? Its not worth the money it costs to fix it. Take it to the junk yard and sell it for parts. Get over it, and don’t use this guy again. Looks like he tried to fix it for you and gave you a deal.

  • TheRealGuest99x

    When I take my 1992 Nissan in for work, I expect it do be done.

  • My_Opinion

    She paid $650 dollars for a car worth about $500. Doesn’t sound like very good decision making on the owners part. At this age a car is a money pit. She should of taken the government up on their cash for clunkers deal. I believe you need to leave the poor mechanic alone and go out car shopping. My ’89 Corsica blew a head gasket and it cost that much in 2001 to repair. So, it sounds to me that you were given a fair deal. The car isn’t going to run like it use to, for God’s sake it’s lasted longer than the average car is expected to last.

  • j. brown

    well I have 4 cars that is from a 1977 to a 2008 for the comment about the life of a car if you are not cheep to spend money for mant. of a car it will last for along time. as long as you don’t let a so-called mech. work on it at a shop that can do simple work. but don’t let them go over their head and do work that they don’t know how to do. but if you are like the last guy that made the last comment about the age of a car maybe he needs to stick with new cars it sounds that he is like the shop and not smart on how to do work or what needs to be done.

  • Guest3533

    sounds like they got a good deal.I know where ill take my car to get fixed.

  • Guest1234


  • Guest 64

    For quality work, quality parts and reasonable rates, go to Boney’s Radiator Service on 16th St. They not only repair radiators but do all types of engine repairs. I’m one happy custoner.

    PS – my truck is a 1991 with very low miles, well maintained and is by far not ready for the junkyard.


  • pjr

    Interesting. If you take your car in no matter how old the car is the mechanic should either give you an estimate or tell you they can’t or won’t work on it. It seems to me that alot of friends and/or family of this business has made comments (bad ones) about this customer. Sounds like a place that doesn’t take ownership of their mistakes and makes sure the customer is belittled in the process. No thank you. I will make sure my business and anyone that asks me does not go to a place like that.


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