So,...You're gonna take your car to a shop to have it worked on...lets talk.

CarMichael Angelo

15 Year Member
Nov 29, 1999
Birmingham, al
Man I see these threads every 6 months or so. Somebody has taken their stuff or their car to some guy that has not done what he's said he was gonna do, or hasn't done anything at all. You thought he was your buddy, and now that has changed. I've been there, on both sides of the experience. I worked for a guy that was that guy, I've taken my car to places where that guy worked/owned.

You think I do all this stuff myself because I'm cheap? No, just as soon not have to do every single thing myself, but there's no way in hell I'd put my car in somebody else's hands ever again.

All of these shop experiences turned out poorly for me:

The first custom paint job that I contracted someone to do for me was in 1977. It was supposed to take 6 weeks, it took 6 months. I ended up getting a paint job that failed within 6 months after. The paint job cost me 1100.00 in 1977, and it sounds like I got a bargain. But If you consider inflation, and take that into consideration....I paid about 4600.00 for that paint job.

In 1978, I took my FMX to a friends friend who was supposed to be a transmission guy. It took him 6 months or weekly calls. I got a transmission that blew up when I tried to drive it. I had to drive it back in low gear 10 miles to get the car back home. It took another month to find somebody to rebuild the transmission that the other guy threw together.

In 1977, My first 9" rear gear set was installed by a shop that didn't know what they were doing. They didn't know that an aftermarket 4:11 ring and pinion set was thicker than the stock gears, and to make them fit, you have to grind the front pinion bearing support enough to get the ring gear to pass w/o hitting. After having me chase all over town trying to find a thinner gear set, ( which there wasn't) I had to find out for them that you had to clearance the area. BUT,....Instead of grinding just enough so that the ring gear would pass by w/o contact, those monkeys cut an entire 90 degree chunk out of the front pinion bearing support of a Nodular iron center section ( designated with a big assed N casting...very rare)
The gear set failed immediately after beating on the car. It took weeks to get them to replace the gears, I had to have them source a new center. It ended up NOT being the superior Nodular piece that I had before. I had to pay somebody else to set up the gears.

The first serious effort engine build I ever took on, started in June of 1990. I took a disassembled complete 69 351 engine to the shop. I finally got the engine finished and back in my hands in July of 1991.

In 97, The blue and white Zephyr that I posted pics of a while back. Took a "Buddy" the car, he used 2/3rd of my paint on on other car, I get what was left.while he had the car, he was seen out beating it on the street. The hood flew up, broke the hell out of it, and dented the cowl..he had to fix it, but...

The last red 89 Notch that I built here on this forum. Another buddy deal...I was supposed to be able to assist the painter at the shop where the car was. The plan being that I could do all of the grunt work to insure that no corners were cut. I had the painters car where I had to do a full race car rewire, add double rail SF connectors, mount his junk assed BBC engine, and a few various other things. The very first time I show up at the shop to assist, I'm told that the shop's insurance won't cover me and I'm not allowed inside to do anything except check on progress. Consequently I get the car back with one side so wavy I'm embarrassed to let people see it, and the "hot rod blacked" out hood fades within a few months.

The moral of this story is that I've been there....numerous times. And I'll NEVER put my car, or my car stuff in the hands of anybody else if there's anyway for me to do it myself. That said, I realize that not everybody will, or can do that. So here is my .03 if you have to do it.

Have a strong upfront agreement. Make sure both sides understand that failure to perform will either result in a forfeit of the agreement, and either you'll be there to get your stuff, or conversely, your stuff will be sitting outside waiting on you to come get it. Go further to detail the cutoff points so that the guy that has your car will not try to claim you owe him more money than what you expect to pay if he fails to complete. I.e. Phase 1/2/3....if you have to pick up the car for whatever reason, whether it's his or your fault for not being able to complete, if you have clearly defined progress points, there'll be a clear break away point that neither can contest. Ask for 5 of the last project references and call these guys. If this guy can't provide satisfied customer references quickly, you are best to leave this dude hanging.

DO NOT give the shop any money up front. This is the number one reason everybody gets fcked. The shop will take your money, spend it, and move on to the next guy that gives them his money, because your deal just became one that he isn't making any money in his mind, and now your project will move more and more to the rear of the shop. As stated above, have a strong conversation of what's expected, and have a deadline. The less money out of your pocket up front, the more of an incentive it will be for the shop to get finished with yours. Most of the chassis shops have guys that are skilled fabricators, but SUCK as businessmen.

Buddy deals never work. Either you'll get screwed, or he'll think you screwed him. Every buddy deal I've ever entered into has either cost me time or money, or both. And in almost every instance save for a couple, the end result was less than I expected.

Be honest, tell the guy what your expectations are and be sure to live up to his.
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I smell a conspiracy
Jan 6, 2019
I have found,if you"settle up"once a week everyone is happier and keeps your project on the front burner


You have a nice rear end there Dave.
15 Year Member
Nov 29, 1999
Mililani, Hawaii
I also do 99.9% of my work on my car myself for the same reason. I just don't trust people that it will get done right. I needed something welded years ago, but instead of paying for it to be done, I bought a welder and learned. I needed a car painted. Same deal. I figured if it looked like poop, well then I would maybe farm it out. But, it came out pretty good. I gained confidence in everything I did. I work on other peoples stuff, but I always make sure they know the deal up front. Example: If I am doing heads/cam/intake that someone brings me I tell them I guarantee the install will be done right. BUT, DO NOT come to me and ask why your car now surges at idle etc.when you decided on the bigass cam and you don't have a tune as this has little to nothing to do with what I did which was bolt on the parts you brought to me. Working on cars for me is fun, but if I did it as a full time job I think I would hate it rather quickly.
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Reactions: General karthief


Drop into my dm’s gurrrrrl
10 Year Member
Feb 22, 2007
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Already learned that type of thing myself, even when it comes to simple things like exhaust. Remember the “transmission guy” for my Ranger, Mike? Yup, glad I didn’t pay him to source it AND install it.

I had an exhaust shop do a little work on my car in Sept. I had previously cut off the smog tube and filled the hole with that hard curing exhaust putty stuff. While they were only supposed to bending me some custom tails, they “noticed my rig, and decided to fix it for me.” Tried to charge me 30 mins labor for it too, but I didn’t pay it in the end. Best part, that putty never leaked at that spot, but their weld has left me with a nice tick I need to fix. Idiots.


10 Year Member
Mar 3, 2010
Ha yeah I ran into some issues like this. Good thing is I’m sort of a perfectionist in a way and when I pay for things I want a detailed itemized sheet with what was done, what was purchased and labor cost etc. well this shop did good with my requests then started getting sloppy and the owner started making things confusing, putting new build and work stuff into old, paid work. I was like wtf? I had to really start sorting through things bc it seemed sketchy. Then I would get calls and he would be like hey man anyway you can drop off some cash towards the new work order so I can pay the guys blah blah, so I’d drop off 500 or 1000 and make sure i get the invoice for payment and what was paid for. I kept on this guy though and would show up at the shop to check progress and it was always lots of talk and oh another week, then oh I’m gonna need another week, but if I could pay up any more on the bill that would be great. So what he was doing was taking my money to pay for older projects to get them finished up since he had used the money received from that others guys build to buy other car parts for himself, or pay workers or dyno shops etc. once it was time to pick up the car finally after getting the tune and dyno I knew what I had to pay then hit a mysterious 600 dollar bill. I questioned him and said uh I know we were square besides what I owed for the tune and dyno cost. He was like nah I have that you still owe this. I was like man I need to get back to work but print your invoices out for me real quick and let me go through them and then compare them to my receipts. So I start going through it and find out he was charging me for stuff I had already paid for, labor which was already paid for and even tried to charge me for my 03 cobra rack and pinion which I had bought and brought in to get it installed since my stock one had took a dump while in the shop and spewed fluid everywhere. Went back in and showed him and he quickly was apologizing and said I must have accidentally added that in some how.


So while I wait to figure out my rear end issues
Dec 29, 2017
Long Island, NY
My two daily drivers I have (wife and I) I will bring to a shop. I have a mechanic my cousin grew up with and I’ve know for years, that I know I can trust. Sometimes I just don’t have the time, and you gotta pay the man so you can get to work the next day.
My Stang is another story. It’s no prize price by any means, but I don’t want anybody else touching it. I’m at the point, and in no rush, where if I want it done, I’ll see if it’s something I can learn first. Welding is at the top of the learn list right now!! I loved doing this stuff when I was younger, and love it even more now, knowing I can take my time. But I agree with 93SSP, in that I would not want to do it full time on other people’s stuff!