Why I will never again visit this tuner in Charlotte, NC

Discussion in 'Regional Forums and Event Information' started by mcduck, Apr 12, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Hello! As you probably can see, I am not a regular member of this board nor would I be since I own a 350Z, not a Mustang. However, I felt it was important to share an experience I recently had with a local tuner with as many people as possible. This tuning shop “specializes” in working of Mustangs... so, that is why I’m here. I’m only posting the account of events as originally posted on the my350Z.com website where I am a longstanding and respected member. You can see the original thread in its entirety, including the tuning shop’s responses by going to this link.

    Ultimately, I am only here to inform you how I was treated by this shop so you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you would do business with them yourself. I'm sorry that this had to be the way to introduce myself to your website, but this information had to be shared. If you have questions, you should be able to PM through the my350z.com website.

    Following is the majority of a letter I have written to Vortech Engineering regarding the matter…

    I am writing today to inform you of recent experiences related to one of Vortech’s products. I am the owner of a 2003 Nissan 350Z and recently purchased your polished supercharger kit for the same.

    Because I have a long standing relationship with a local garage, Cosentino Hi-Lines, I wanted to have their mechanics work on this project even though this shop is not an authorized Vortech installer. After some planning, I decided to buy the supercharger kit from Carolina Performance Racing (a Vortech authorized retailer), have the kit installed by Cosentino Hi-Lines, and finally have the car tuned by Underground Racing (a Vortech authorized installer, if what I’ve been told is true).

    The items I bring to your attention today regard the tuning shop, Underground Racing and how that shop, and specifically the owner Kevin Howeth, poorly handled my concerns. I apologize in advance because what follows will be lengthy, but I feel it is necessary to relay to you my exact experience as a customer.

    Item #1 – Oil Leak
    The first problem I encountered with my new Vortech kit was an oil leak. Of course, it was investigated immediately and, ultimately, rectified with no real harm done. One reason I have maintained a relationship with Cosentino Hi-Lines is that they, based on my experiences, are very methodical and professional about their work. Basically, when I take my car to this shop for anything, I know the job is going to be done right. Also, having done a cam install several months ago, they are intimately familiar with my motor. This continued to be the case with the Vortech supercharger install. Upon completion, I picked up my car on Tuesday, March 23, 2004. Mark Cosentino, the shop owner and mechanic that performed the install, shared with me a photograph log of their work as well as taking time to show me the entire finished product in his garage. We inspected the car in detail on the ground as well as on the lift and he pointed out things to watch as traditional problem areas for superchargers. The car was also cranked and driven in the area of the shop. After much idle and drive time, Mark showed me the oil transfer points, key items about the belts, and how the entire install was leak-free and ready for the road. What he showed me first hand, matched the photograph log he had created as the install was performed.

    Since Cosentino Hi-Lines has neither Vortech tuning software nor a dyno to perform tuning, I worked out an arrangement with Underground Racing to perform the engine tuning following the supercharger install. When these arrangements were made, Underground Racing informed me they are an authorized Vortech installer.

    With confidence the install had been performed properly following our thorough inspection, I immediately drove the car just over 6 miles to Underground Racing for tuning, taking great care not to rev the motor too high since I was driving on the Vortech default settings . My car was left in the care of Underground Racing for approximately 4½ hours. At the time of drop off, there were no signs of leaks anywhere. I took special note of this because I had a problem where my custom strut bar had rubbed one of the Vortech gears under body flex. While removing the strut bar, I looked over the install area closely and saw no signs of fluid anywhere.

    After 4½ hours, I returned to Underground Racing. They showed me the final dyno run figures and took me for a quick (2-3 mile ride) in the car to “check things out”. With all this done, I was ready to leave. In hindsight, I remember there being no fluids on the dyno when we pulled the car off of the dyno for the quick drive. I remember this because one of the spacers for the aforementioned custom strut bar had fallen onto a cross brace and could not be removed from above the car. During dyno tuning it appeared to have fallen out onto the floor in the dyno area. When we backed the car out, this piece was picked up and there were no signs of leaks or fluid anywhere. I was fairly excited about the dyno numbers so I failed to inspect the engine bay of my car before leaving Underground Racing.

    At this time, I drove the 6 miles back to Cosentino Hi-Lines to share the dyno numbers with Mark Cosentino, the owner, and it was a good thing I did. When I arrived, we discovered a large amount of oil had leaked into the pans that close off the engine bay from the road. When we checked the oil level, the reading was between one and two quarts low! The car had not leaked following the install, on the way to the tuner, or on the dyno, but seemed to begin leaking after I left the tuner to return to the install shop.

    Once the car was on the lift, we found a fitting that was loose. During install this piece was tightened securely and Teflon tape was used on the threads of the fitting to further ensure there would be no leak. Since we had the pictures of the install to reference, it was easy to see the fitting was not in the same position it had been in when I left the install shop earlier that day. The only place the car was out of my presence was at the tuner.

    When I spoke to Kevin Howeth concerning this, he became angry which I admit is an understandable initial reaction. However, my only known facts when I spoke to him were when the leak began and that the fitting was securely tightened at install as this was shown to me during the original inspection at Cosentino Hi-Lines and verified by the photograph of the fitting. However, instead of helping me discern what may have actually happened to cause the part to become loose, Kevin proceeded to yell at me, address me with derogatory name-calling, and attack both my character and the work of the install shop without provocation. I was simply attempting to investigate a problem I, the customer, had encountered and Kevin immediately became defensive and belligerent. When I tried to provide additional background information regarding my experience, he would simply yell over my voice and ignore my comments. Considering this, it is unlikely I will ever fully determine what caused this issue.

    Following discovery of the source of the leak that afternoon at Cosentino Hi-Lines, the fitting was reseated and I have had no problems whatsoever with oil since.
  2. Item #2 – Dyno Tuning
    There was also a questionable occurrence regarding the dyno tuning of my Vortech supercharged 350Z. I was never able to discuss this with Kevin because of the attitude he had taken when I brought up the aforementioned oil leak issue. Basically, when I picked up my vehicle from Underground Racing the first time (the afternoon of March 23rd), they told me they had been able to tune my Vortech supercharged 350Z to a peak 400 rear wheel horsepower (SAE corrected) on their Dynojet dyno and charged me in full for their tuning service. They also gave me a dyno sheet clearly showing a peak number of 395 rwhp (see first message following this post).

    I was told an additional 20-30 rwhp may be possible once the serpentine belt was tightened (it had developed a little slack during breaking in). No other information was conveyed to me. So, I was given the impression my car was more or less tuned and was right at 400rwhp when I left Underground Racing on March 23, 2004.

    On the morning of April 2, 2004, I returned to Cosentino Hi-Lines for some tweaking, such as tensioning the serpentine belt, as we planned to dyno the car one final time before a big regional car show. We wanted to ensure we would hit our best numbers yet on the dyno. Because I had other concerns at this point, I took my car to another dyno shop, Dave Brown Motorsports in Charlotte, NC. I had worked with Dave Brown in the past, but he also does not have tuning software for Vortech kits and could not help me on this particular project. Prior to installing the Vortech supercharger, my car turned very similar numbers on the Underground Racing Dynojet as it did on Dave Brown’s Dynojet. On this morning, my car produced only 350rwhp as in the dyno chart from Dave Brown Motorsports (see Attachment #2).

    Again, both shops have the same type of DynoJet dyno and my car hit similar numbers at both shops prior to the supercharger install. At this point, my car hit a best output around 50 horsepower less than what Underground Racing had claimed to have tuned my car. I can understand some minor variance between two dynos, but not a 50 horsepower drop.

    Dissatisfied with this dyno number, I reasoned that I had no choice but to return to Underground Racing for final tuning, which I did later that same morning. When I arrived at Underground Racing, they were able to get my car right on the dyno. I noted that KC, the technician that had tuned my car before, did not immediately do a dyno run with my car. So, I have no direct basis for comparison against the runs Dave Brown Motorsports did earlier that morning. KC first connected to the Split Second computer and loaded a new set of tuning parameters. I was not informed this was happening. I watched the progress bar fill on the computer screen as new tuning parameters were set. After this KC proceeded to tune the car and on three runs got approximately 400rwhp on the first run (after loading the new parameters), 410rwhp on the second, and finally 424rwhp on the third (see third message following this post)

    Pleased with the final run, I told KC I was happy with those settings and it was not necessary to continue. He unhooked everything from my car and did no further adjustment. I presume my car is still at the settings that give me 420rwhp and it does feel stronger than it did prior to the return trip to Underground Racing, but I will verify this by again visiting Dave Brown Motorsports in the near future.

    Item #3 – Price Quotes
    While I know you cannot be involved in any disputes involving pricing with those that sell or tune your superchargers, I feel it is fair for me to provide this account as well.

    After the first round of tuning was completed on March 23rd, I was charged $650 total by Underground Racing for their services, which I paid with cash and check. Later, I discovered they had quoted others I know $300 tuning, $150 dyno time, and $200 for installing the Split Second box. This upset me because Cosentino Hi-Lines had installed my Split Second box, not Underground Racing. Essentially, I felt I had been overcharged and this was on top of the other issues I have been describing. While it was probably not the wisest way to approach the issue, I had my bank issue a stop payment on the check until I could meet with Kevin to discuss the pricing.

    The next time I saw anyone from Underground Racing was on April 2, 2004 during the second visit for tuning which became required after the dyno results at Dave Brown Motorsports revealed the motor had been de-tuned prior to leaving Underground Racing on March 23, 2004. I told Kevin exactly what I had done regarding the payment and why. This upset him and he expressed an opinion that I should have contacted him first. I agree, I probably should have, but I could not change that after the fact. Once he explained why I was charged more, I settled my charges with Underground Racing via credit card for the amount the original check was written even though I personally don’t agree with the explained difference in price I received versus the price quote a good friend of mine received for the same work to be done on his 350Z.

    Shortly following this is when we moved on to the discussion of the other matters described above. As I stated before, we did not get very far with this dialogue as Kevin’s approach to this discussion was to yell at me, insult me, and threaten me. The threat came in the form that I would “regret it” and he “would take action” if I were to make public any information about my experience.

    I can only attest to the facts as I experienced them. I am very happy with the Vortech supercharger and with the final tune that was done on my car. I do not know what happened regarding my oil problem and, as it is fixed and no longer appears to be an issue, I really don’t care now.

    However, there has been no explanation why I was told by Underground Racing my car dyno-ed at 400rwhp only to find later that it had, in fact, been detuned to 350rwhp before I arrived to pick it up on March 23, 2004.

    More importantly, I am offended by the lack of professionalism Underground Racing, and specifically Kevin Howeth, has shown me regarding the business I have done with them. While I respect Kevin’s opinion regarding what may or may not have happened related to the install and tuning of my Vortech supercharger, I found him completely unhelpful in trying to determine the facts surrounding what actually occurred. As a customer, I do not appreciate the attitude Kevin took with me when these things were brought up for discussion face-to-face. Being the customer, I thought Underground Racing would be more sympathetic in addressing my concerns. Instead, I found anger, direct insults, and accusations that are contrary to facts that I know to be true.

    Because of my experience with Underground Racing, I will not return to them ever and I will continue to share the facts surrounding the install and tuning of my Vortech kit as I have above. .
  3. Blow-up of dyno sheet I was given during my first visit to UR on 3-23-04...

    Attached Files:

  4. Dyno taken at Dave Brown Motorsports morning of 4-2-04...

    Attached Files:

  5. and finally, dyno from later that morning (4-2-04) after UR had restored the correct settings to my car...

    Attached Files:

  6. Hey, man! I've been in that shop before, too. My buddy was having a gear swap done in his cobra. They seemed knowledgeable enough, but the attitude was so smug. They took about 4 hours longer than they had estimated for the gear swap. That Kevin guy is really a dick! He never spoke to us the whole time we were there. It's like we were invisible. I'll never take any of my stuff over there, that's for sure. I think I'll spend my money with someone who's friendly, helpful, timely and knowledgeable. Those guys don't seem to need the money anyway. Have you seen the sick rides in that place? They must be dealin' more than performance parts if you know what I mean.
  7. Another shop forgets who pays there salary. Seems like the more business they get the bigger *******s they are.
  8. So true, there really needs to be more shops like T and J out there. Sorry bout your issues.
  9. This is the same shop that did the insatll on my gears.They gave a fair price but they did try to get over on me by saying that i couldn't use a speed-cal on my car(2002 gt 5 speed) and that i needed a custom chip for my car.The two guys i dealt with seemed cool though(Wess and JC I think are the names)But i did see that Kevin guy there on the phone.he never even looked my way.
  10. Ive heard horror stories about the Underground fokking people good!
    The owners of that place are rich little pompus baztards that run an illegal street racing website. They moved on from slow mustangs to the unbeatable 1000 hp viper they have. They act as if they are better than every one because they have money. Once all of the negative publicity catches them they will be forced out of business like all of the rest of arrogant shop owners that make a living fokking people for a quick buck.
    I have heard he acts like a tough guy , but has not run into the right person yet that will end him and his pathetic ways.

    If you deal with these people be forewarned! They are dishonest and take no responsibility for your car once it is left in their care.


  11. I havent heard of Underground before but thanks for the heads up. I've delt mainly with Carolina Performance Racing and have had a great experience with them and will probably keep going back.
  12. Yeah, Carolina Performance Racing is where I buy most of my parts. Ralph, the owner, is a really nice guy. He is almost impossible to beat on parts prices. CPRacing does some installation and repair work in house. I tend to be a DIY kind of guy, but since I don't have a welder, I did let them put on some sub-frames for me. They used to farm out alot of the more technical work to that Underground Racing shop. I think they are getting away from that somewhat now. CPRacing just moved to a new, bigger location last week. They are now on South Blvd., north of the Woodlawn Rd. intersection.

    As a side note, I was talking with Danny, a fellow stanger who lives near me last week and the subject of Underground Racing came up. He and a buddy of his had arranged a race with Kevin from Underground. Danny's buddy had a fox body street/drag car with a stroker and nitrous. Kevin wanted to run him in one of his Saleens and he set up a day and time. The wager was set at $1,500.00 and Danny and his buddy drove the car to Underground to race them. Kevin made them drive about 35 minutes to another shop in Mooresville where his car was supposed to be. Once they got there, Kevin started nit picking their car. He wanted them to run on street tires only. They had street slicks (which qualifies as street tires in my book), but that wasn't good enough for Kevin. Kevin felt it gave them an unfair advantage over his Saleen. Kevin then whipped out the Viper and said, "How about you race against me in this?" Danny's buddy didn't back down because he knew the Viper would never get traction in the eighth. Kevin backed down again and made up some excuse about not wanting to go to the track and running on the street instead. Danny's buddy had had enough of Kevin's BS and threatened to whip his ass. Kevin threatened to have him put in jail if he did. The race never did happen. No money changed hands. Nobody got their a$$ kicked. Danny and his friend left and drove their car all the way back home (1 hr. away) all for nothing. Funny, huh!? It may be B.S., but that's the story I was told. In any case, stay away from Underground Racing. They don't shoot straight and they are generally a bunch of spoiled rich kid pricks.
  13. In this area I would only deal with CPracing, and Modular Madness. I tried to talk with underground about dyno tuning and they acted like I was either stupid for wanting to do a gt to cobra swap or like it would never happen. After that I decided to find a new shop and have never looked back-
  14. So, how come this post has not been listed on the 'forums' for underground racing? I assume that the link provided in this post (undergroundracing.com) is the shop in question.

    Another route is to contact the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General.

    There are some holes in the story though. If a shop tells you they tuned your car to a peak of 400rwhp, that doesnt mean thats where they kept it. My friend had her Mach I dynoed up to almost 600rwhp, but the shop tuned it back down to 519rwhp in fear of breaking the bottom end.

    If they are running an illegal street racing scene, how come no one has called them on it yet? With no explanation, and an attitude that was displayed, and the numbers that were put down, I would not have given him anything and contacted the two agencies that I listed. After they conduct an investigation...only then would I pay. Let him take you to court.
  15. First, I am not an employee of Undergroundracing, but am friends with the owners. I can't stand internet whiners like yourself who come on here bashing people for their work, when you had multiple people working on your car. Maybe you'll say im biased b/c I know the personally, but I really dont care. The fact is, you werent happy period b/c there was something wrong with your car, so you decided to denounce them all together, please....you should know when you start to modify your car, that ***** happens and most performance shops aren't responsible for something happening and I find it hard to believe that this shop in particular wouldnt own up to its mistakes, if it did indeed happened b/c of their work.

    Second, who cares about their background and whether or not they have money. All that is, is pure jealousy, plain and simple. Just b/c they can afford a car that's more expensive than yours or is faster, doesnt make them "rich little punks"...it just makes them faster than you.

    Third, I have never heard of them backing down from a challenge that was worth their time. Yes, when you're dealing with cars that have a lot of horsepower and money is changing hands, wouldnt you want it to be "fair" and under your terms? Besides, i never saw anything that could handle the Saleen, let alone the Viper.

    Its funny b/c more and more these days I see this shop get criticized for stuff b/c people are impatient and dont want to pay for quality work.I guess that's why they won 3 V10 national events and have the fastest supercharged Viper in the country? I also guess that's why they have people shipping their Vipers from all over the country?
  16. Humm...
    Maybe I should read the post again, I didn't see any bashing anywhere reguarding anyones work.. :shrug:
    I did read he was upset with the attitude he received.
  17. NO bashing from either side of the fence. Keep this thread on track or it will be killed.
  18. First off, it does make you partial and biased, whether you care or not so your response is taken with much less importance. Secondly, if his Saleen has never had a challenger that can "handle" it, then dont be naive enough to think that tires alone are going to make it that close of a race. Lastly, its all about the attitude. I completely agree with the detuning idea, and maybe thats all that happened, but even still the car owner needs to be told this. There's not much communication there it seems. As far as the threats and him getting so up in arms... WTF?? You can't defend poor customer service and even worse treatment. Do you actually think that having a nationally recognized sports car gives him the right to be an @$$? I dont care if he accused Kevin (I think thats who he said) of blowing the whole dame car up; a good business person and someone who values each customer would CALMLY explain the situation and rationally work things out. I equate this shop to AMP (if you haven't heard their reputation, ask around. Its about the same as Underground it seems.)

    Point is, you just dont act the way Kevin did, period. Absolutely no reason to get so hateful with a customer. If in fact Kevin was NOT in the wrong, why would he feel the need to be such a prick? More than likely, a rational explanation could have made all of this go away.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.