Aaron S Fgh

Very poor workmanship and business ethic

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Original review Apr 21, 2022
Very poor workmanship and business ethic. Buyer beware! Nearly $22,000 dollars and a great deal of frustration later, I have a painted 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge. I am very UNHAPPY with my experience with Sterling Hot Rods of Sterling Virginia and HIGHLY recommend anyone looking for any type of restoration service to look elsewhere. Overview: Before and during Judge drop-off, I informed them that the frame was bent and would need straightening. They did not have the tools to straighten frames but said they could get the work done. Tom Sweeten (owner) reported back later that they measured the frame dimensions and it "checked out". Days later I made an unannounced visit and, to my surprise, found a new fender force mounted to the radiator support bracket attached to the bent frame. The fender was being twisted and was buckling outward and gaps from their inability to properly straighten and align were filled with up to 3/4 of an inch in Bondo, to include on the hood where the tip of the hood meets the Endura nose. I ordered all work to cease and began coordinating with a couple of other shops that will do restoration projects. I was fully prepared to pay off and get the Judge out of their hands immediately. At the same time, I took time off of work to measure the frame myself using multiple methods, including the method Billy said he used, in order to see what they were seeing. In each case, I could show them that the frame was indeed bent but instead of moving forward, I simply received denials and arguments to the contrary from Billy which were backed up by Tom, the non-engaged/non-concerned owner. Tom eventually stopped blowing me off, forcing me to deal solely with his scape-goat/stooge Billy, and we agreed to have a nearby location work the frame issue (the place was literally across the street). After successfully straightening the frame enough that the components would fit and align, (over 2 inches to the passenger side and around 2 inches up for both front frame rail tips) I again took time off from work to assist in aligning the front components. The only reason I stayed with Sterling was Tom's agreement to finally cap what I saw as "cost-creep". They had already wasted so many hours, chargeable to me, by attempting body work on a car with a bent frame with full intent to charge me to redo anything that required re-work (as explained by Billy). They even prematurely had all of the jams painted before they had the car straight, which of course they never touched up, so with a quick check of my door jams you can find HUGE scratches where tools pried or slipped while trying to align. In the end I can patch or cover up much of what is still frustratingly poor workmanship, but I am shocked at the exceedingly poor quality of Sterling Hot Rods workmanship, especially at such great costs. Absolutely NOT RESTORATION FRIENDLY. I will never return and do not recommend their services.
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Loss:
$22000
Cons:
  • Horrible workmanship
  • Unreasonably high cost and practice of cost-creep
  • Estimates are half

User's recommendation: I will never return and do not recommend their services.

Peter B Gal
map-marker Dulles, Virginia

Be Careful

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Be careful at this place. I was initially won over by all the classic cars I saw at the shop, thinking the claims on their website were legit. Now I think all the positive reviews were probably for minors repairs and not big jobs like they advertise. I had a big job and the mechanical side of the shop charged me double the initial estimate. They did lower their labor rate after I mentioned the significant underestimate but they just did additional work I did not request to make up the difference. They also damaged parts of my car and didn't offer to fix their mistakes. And the solutions they offered always required more labor than more simple cost-effective ones. I was looking forward to working with the body side of the shop but ultimately because of my experience with the mechanical side, I will taking my business elsewhere.
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Pros:
  • All services are offered
Cons:
  • Estimates are half
Reason of review:
Pricing issue

Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution

Anonymous
map-marker Washington, District Of Columbia

Classic Nightmare

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After you have paid them and attempting to get what “should be a warranty repair “ they will charge. Even after merging the new partnership will not honor Sterling Hotrod work. You will waste time and money using this shop.
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Anonymous
map-marker Reston, Virginia

RUN LIKE ***

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Beware.....Run as fast as you can. If I was you I would not use this company for any work. Even if I had bathrooms to clean I would find someone else to do the work. The workers have no idea what they are doing and Tom and Billy truly have no idea how to build or rebuild a car or truck. I have receipts of the work they did and I let another reputable company look at what they did and they looked at me and said "you paid for this?"
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Loss:
$10000
Reason of review:
Bad quality

Preferred solution: Price reduction

1 comment
Guest

Where did you take it after Sterling Hot Rods? I have a classic card that really needs work.

Anonymous
map-marker Leesburg, Virginia

Save Yourself Some Heartburn

Got a great buy on a pro street style 67 pick-up which had a leaking rear axle seal! I didn’t have the time or space to change the seal and the carb lagged upon heavy acceleration so off to Sterling Hot Rods I went. Tom, the owner, estimated a couple hours labor plus a few parts for the job. They first called to tell me the wheel mounting flange on the axle housing needed welding to address the leak and the shock mount need to be moved. As well the distributor needed replacing to address the lag. I agreed to have the work done. The next call was about the truck needing plugs, wires, new air cleaner, and some tuning to address the lag, I agreed to that. The calls kept coming with the last being about an oil pan leak they found while they were buttoning everything up so I agreed to that as well. Finally the original estimate of a few hours turned out to be a $3600.00 bill. But here’s the part that really ticks me off. After I paid the $$$$, I got the truck home and………… you guessed it…….. the rear axle housing still leaked, the motor still lagged, and the oil pan still dripped! Hope this info saves the next guy some heartburn.
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Reason of review:
Bad quality

Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution

Anonymous
map-marker Sterling, Virginia

Sterling Hot Rods - rip off

I would not trust Tom or Matt with any project every again. You be the judge. They will give you a quote just to earn the business. They will begin the work and then offer you an over / under report to show you how your build is going and when its time to pick up your car and pay the bill, it is thousands of dollars above what the estimate was and what change orders were. Total Shock! Matt's answer to me when I questioned the bill was, "You either pay the bill or I will keep your car and then charge you storage until you do". Here is a quote from Tom when I inquired on why we were off target: "I'll have Matt or Billy call you to discuss the details, I'm out of the detail loop on this one." Obviously he doesn't care to be involved in your job. They will turn your project into being their project and charge you for whatever work they do - even if you didn't approve the change order. I should have went to Joel Ross at CedarPark
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Loss:
$2000
Anonymous
map-marker Washington, District Of Columbia

Use cheap as way to lure you in.

I have owned a lot of cars and it is very tough to find honest people that do good work on them. I thought these guys were different, but of course I guess I was wrong. They use cork gaskets to stop leaks ! WTF! did a bunch of test with no results and charge you as you go, did not fix my problem, turned out I needed a new distributor. A distributor! this is 101 mechanic stuff. would not use them again, would not reccomend, they also take a long time, nice personalities, but money and billing seems to be the plan. charge way too much! outrageous!
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3 comments
Guest

Yes, you will learn that they will leave you broke and the work is questionable.

Guest

Not great service work. They like pushing charges and up sells on maintenance work while getting warranty work.

Expect to have to take your car back at least twice to get it done right. I brought back my car for warranty work only to get charged on two occasions. I had to take it back three times and fight to get it done correctly. Not happy.

The same happened to my parents who had to take warranty work (defective heater) back a second time to get it done correctly.

On the other hand, staff is professional and nice.

Buying the car was not bad, but this dealership is not the place to go for quality service work. Expect rush service and that you will likely have to take your car back

Guest

Learn to work on your own vehicle. Or pay someone what they are asking and let them do their thing no matter how long it takes. After all, you can't do this yourself because you are too ***, so why complain that someone out there is willing to help you.

They are right, you are wrong.

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Brian H Mgp
map-marker Germantown, Maryland

Poor Work

We had a good amount work done on my dad's ride. Bad: long, long turnaround time, and we had to take the ride back a more than a couple of times to get things corrected. It took quite a bit of scheduling to get back into to get the shop to make the right fixes. There was a lack of attention to details on much of the work and it looked rushed in several areas. The plus was that they admitted making mistakes, just too busy to give her a through after project review, walk-around, and test drive. The shop seemed overwhelmed with projects and was much cluttered. This might explain the difficulty in paying attention to details and not getting things right the first or second time. Dad tried to get back in for a small job, but they now said that they were on to big projects. Dad had spent every penny and there was nothing left for them to take. His priority dropped. He doesn't know what else to do. Good: pleasant employees who seemed knowledgeable. I forgot to find out if any were ASE certified, but it likely does not apply. Place is overwhelmed with business as are many of the few shops that work on the old ones. They let the floor get filled with work and then may spend an hour or so each day or whenever they can. If ya tell them when you are coming, as Da did, they were seemingly working on his ride, but if you dropped in by surprise, NOT so. I ended up taking it to a shop in Fairfax to finally get things done. Nothing left for them to take.
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2 comments
Guest

Wish I had read this first! They lead you in with promice of cheap rates and then procrastinate and wallop you with a much higher bill.

They pay the workers next to nothing. Most of the cars in there are owned by the owner and are simply props.

Guest
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-363464

They will sell you your dream at a price you feel is fair. After your car is disassembled they “discover” numerous things that need to be addressed.

Now they have you. Your car is disassembled, they want more money or come get your car.

The work quality declines and drawn out till you reach a breaking point. Save yourself by avoiding Tom Sweeten & Sterling HotRods.

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