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Old 08-23-2012, 11:13 AM   #1
NateSS
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Bad experience with ARD

I dont know if ARD is a vender or seller here, but I figured the best place was to put this was here, and not on the regular forums.

First let me state, I'm not on a hate campaign. I'm only putting my experience out there for anyone who wants to read it. I'll let everyone who cares be the judge. I will say I am a United States Army Officer and I dont lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those that do. So if someone plans on accusing me of lying, dont even bother.

So after doing some research on shops for a cam/heads/ls3 conversion, chose ARD, over three other shops i was seriously considering. The price was low, and I had heard enough good things about them ( as well as bad too). But i figured, hey what the heck, not all shops are perfect.

Last december, I came home to Houston on leave from Fort Rucker, AL. I had 10 days, so ARD agreed to do the performance upgrades during that time. I was already having some issues with the TC, but they assured me they would take a look at it. So after 5 or 6 days i get a call saying the clutches are bad and that they have a Stage 3 transmission upgrade that would take care of that and also upgrade the trans to handle up to 600 RWHP. It was just shy of a couple grand and although I wasnt too happy to go over budget, i figured more power needs a stronger trans.

So after the work was done, I get the car back. It seems ok, but then again I dont know much about cars and its my first cammed muscle car. They produce a dyno sheet at 453 RWHP. I also asked Owen what he did with the transmission and also what the cam specs were and he was very evasive about it. He told me just to email him and he would get back to me. I said ok and thought nothing of it.

So while I'm back at Fort Rucker, I start having issues. The car doesnt want to start at times and it seemed very choppy. It idled rough and would just shut off sometimes during city driving. It got to the point were it was very embarassing. Plus I was getting about 8 MPG average. I emailed several times during the next 6 months and got no responses. I called many times (yes, during business hours), and got few answers.

So i decided to live with it until I could come back to houston and have it looked at. I came home in July and still was getting no responses from ARD. So after my wife got upset at me after she couldn't get the car to start one day, I called G-Force in pearland to see what the deal was. They told me to bring it in and have it retuned.

So G Force did their thing and called me back to the shop to pick up. Robert and Mike, there show me a baseline dyno sheet at 379 RWHP. They also tell me the previous tune was all sorts of messed up. The air/fuel was all jacked up. So i start the car and it came to life immediately. It ran smoother, idled great and also seemed faster. They also told me the transmission was messed up. He said the first gear was almost nonexistent, and also said it just didn't seem right on the dyno as they were going through the gears.

He also asked me what the car is supposed to do in neutral. I responded with "well, nothing right?". He then put the car in neutral, and the car started to roll backwards. So i guess I have two reverses!!

Anyways, I drove the car and noticed the issues. But other than that, the MPG, rough idling, running extremely rich, and car not starting till after 8 or 9 keyturns, and car dying during normal driving, were all fixed. And for that I'm very grateful to G-Force.

So they tell me the transmission needs to be fixed soon. What I do know for sure is that I WONT be taking back to ARD, warranty or not. The fact that their tune was terrible to begin with, is enough for me to stay far away. Theoretically I should go back and make them fix it, but then again, would you go back to the same doctor if he did surgery on you and messed you up even worse? I wouldn't.

So it appears I'm going to have Circle D fix my transmission... for quite a bit of money, I might add. I decided to cut my losses with them, after being repeadelty ignored. Skeptics can say well why didn't you go to their shop personally. I cant answer that. I guess I could/should have. But honestly, I'm just grateful GForce found out the issue because my i failed to recognize any issues myself.

I know alot of people, to to include club guys in Houston, have been to ARD and had no issues. I'm not dogging on them. In fact, I'm glad they didn't. But this was what happened with my car. Owen's a nice guy. He talked to me well and as a person I have nothing against them. But my car wont ever roll into that shop again. The normal reaction to getting bit, is definitely not putting your hand back in the hole.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:41 AM   #2
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lol, the thread in the Texas forum was out-right deleted. Not even moved to this section, just deleted. smh
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:47 AM   #3
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Dear Mods

No matter which side your on pulling/ censoring a thread is not cool. Although I may disagree with what is being said. They have the right to say it and I have the right to disagree.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:07 PM   #4
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Dear Mods

No matter which side your on pulling/ censoring a thread is not cool. Although I may disagree with what is being said. They have the right to say it and I have the right to disagree.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:37 PM   #5
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Believe me, I would not have minded at all if the thread was simply closed. I could see that it could easily have gone downhill pretty quickly. I think we were at least keeping it respectful towards each other.

I dunno, I was just offering my opinion as a complete outsider in that thread. If Owen really is as good as y'all say he is, I hope he can continue to prove that from here on out. I don't want to see any Camaro5 members get shafted, regardless of the shop they go through
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:51 PM   #6
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First off guys... NateSS is a 110% stand up guy and his account the experiences are 100% accurate.

I feel horrible that this happened to him, but as he says there were major problems with his build. And he still has issues and some major $$$ to shell out to get things fixed. I don't blame him for posting up and I also don't blame him for not wanting to take is car back for warranty work, but hopefully he will so this can be resolved.

Not sure what else I can say. I know it's not something anyone from our club wants to hear from me...:( as we have had a lot of great builds come from there.

One thing I do know is Owen will do everything possible to make it right given the chance...
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:23 PM   #7
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And mine is one of those great builds. Runs like a raped ape! (Whatever that means)

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Old 08-23-2012, 01:43 PM   #8
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First off guys... NateSS is a 110% stand up guy and his account the experiences are 100% accurate.

I feel horrible that this happened to him, but as he says there were major problems with his build. And he still has issues and some major $$$ to shell out to get things fixed. I don't blame him for posting up and I also don't blame him for not wanting to take is car back for warranty work.

Not sure what else I can say. I know it's not something anyone from our club wants to hear from me...:( as we have had a lot of great builds come from there.
I know he has been reached out to but I would like to again extend the invitation to get this fixed and would like to find out what happened. If I can help in any way, truly let me know. NateSS may not feel like it but this problem can be fixed correctly. PM me, get with the other person that contacted you, get with Mike (who ironically got bashed on another site, but is probably the most impartial person I know when it comes to all the auto shops). And I am saying this from a H-Town Camaro Club perspective not as a spokesman for ARD.
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Old 08-23-2012, 01:59 PM   #9
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Thanks. Mike had been aware of the issue and Ive gotten some solid advice from him, as well as a few others from the club who know me.

I also received a call from Owen about this and he assures me he would take care of it. I'm still torn though, but i appreciate the invitation.
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Old 08-23-2012, 02:12 PM   #10
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Thanks. Mike had been aware of the issue and Ive gotten some solid advice from him, as well as a few others from the club who know me.

I also received a call from Owen about this and he assures me he would take care of it. I'm still torn though, but i appreciate the invitation.
Good news Nate. My built 6L80 ran for a year with 600RWHP, and now it's in a friends car still trucking along. Things can go wrong no matter where you shop, but I'm confident ARD will get you taken care of.
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Old 08-23-2012, 03:40 PM   #11
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Good news Nate. My built 6L80 ran for a year with 600RWHP, and now it's in a friends car still trucking along. Things can go wrong no matter where you shop, but I'm confident ARD will get you taken care of.
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:07 PM   #12
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Thanks. Mike had been aware of the issue and Ive gotten some solid advice from him, as well as a few others from the club who know me.

I also received a call from Owen about this and he assures me he would take care of it. I'm still torn though, but i appreciate the invitation.
NattSS, thank you for your service, sorry to hear of your experiance.
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:02 AM   #13
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So after personally talking to Owen, and hearing about certain "issues" regarding some of his old personnel, I decided to take it back to him so he could look at it and "make it right". I know I said I wouldn't, but I decided to give it a shot, given the special circumstances.

After a day, he informs me he is going to drop the trans and fix it. He also tells me there are more things wrong with it... Apparently it was running on 7 cylinders... He put it on the dyno before working on it and found more issues. so he's got the car for the rest of the week to work on that.

I'm disappointed that there was more wrong with the car than I really cared to hear about, but I'm grateful he is willing to take care of it all at no expense to me.

What a pain in my ass this has become. But it is what it is! Heres hoping that he can get it squared away.
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:31 AM   #14
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I guess it's a good thing you didn't go down the road of buying a new tranny and then finding this out. Glad to hear something concrete was found so it can be fixed under warranty.
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Old 08-26-2012, 02:25 PM   #15
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Nate,
I hope everything turns out for the best!!
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:35 PM   #16
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Nate,
I hope everything turns out for the best!!
Thanks! I hope so too cuz the wife has been grouchy about it for the past couple of days!

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I guess it's a good thing you didn't go down the road of buying a new tranny and then finding this out. Glad to hear something concrete was found so it can be fixed under warranty.
True that. I guess thats one good thing that came out of something else being wrong.
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Old 08-27-2012, 12:03 PM   #17
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Keep us updated when you get it back!
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:23 AM   #18
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Dear Mods

No matter which side your on pulling/ censoring a thread is not cool. Although I may disagree with what is being said. They have the right to say it and I have the right to disagree.


OP, please keep us updated.
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:33 AM   #19
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SO I finally got it back last night. Everything seems to be running ok. It's still pulling low on the dyno, but the engine and transmission issues seem to have been fixed.

It no longer creeps backward in neutral which is no longer embarassing! I still have to drive it a little more to get a better feel for it. But I do feel the extra power now that its running on all 8 cylinders.

Owen spent alot of time (2 weeks) and i'm sure alot of his own money to make the situation right. At one point he had to send the heads off to a machine shop for something. He also replaced quite a few engine internals. So my hat off to him for taking care of the bad work I had originally got. I will say i'm glad I decided to let him take care of it. Anywhere else would have been a boat load of money.
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Old 09-08-2012, 07:58 AM   #20
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Good to hear and good on ARD... sounds like a lot of work went into the fix.

I know you're relieved to have it back...
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:26 AM   #21
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I'd take the car to the track and see what it runs. That would tell you a lot.

Heads/Cam/LS3 conversion should put up some real solid times (and fast trap speeds) at the track (if the mods were done correctly).
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:07 PM   #22
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SO I finally got it back last night. Everything seems to be running ok. It's still pulling low on the dyno, but the engine and transmission issues seem to have been fixed.

It no longer creeps backward in neutral which is no longer embarassing! I still have to drive it a little more to get a better feel for it. But I do feel the extra power now that its running on all 8 cylinders.

Owen spent alot of time (2 weeks) and i'm sure alot of his own money to make the situation right. At one point he had to send the heads off to a machine shop for something. He also replaced quite a few engine internals. So my hat off to him for taking care of the bad work I had originally got. I will say i'm glad I decided to let him take care of it. Anywhere else would have been a boat load of money.
That's good to hear Nate. I like the fact that the problems you had weren't even related to the work he originally did, but he fixed them anyway. That's what I like about working with him.
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:17 PM   #23
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That's good to hear Nate. I like the fact that the problems you had weren't even related to the work he originally did, but he fixed them anyway. That's what I like about working with him.
That's the sign of a great shop and owner!!
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:42 PM   #24
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Glad to hear Owen fixed you up and its sad to hear what happen, but i cant imagine how i would feel if this happened to me. Good luck with the car and hope its better now.
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