Bad tow

This morning my tranny let go, 97 hyundai elantra. Called for a tow. Told driver the car was stuck in reverse. Winched it up a flat bed and shattered my transaxle case. Now he says so what. What the heck do I do?

Just received an angry call from the tow company who states it would have happened either way and they are not responsible. Do towers know things like this can happen ? Should they have sent a different truck?

I would start by getting a statement from the repair facility stating what damage was caused by their negligence, along with an estimate for the additional damage, and then filing a claim against their insurance. It would be helpful if you had witnesses who could verify that they admitted causing the damage and were unrepentant.

I agree with TT.

I’d also like to add that the tow company’s insurance against which you’ll be filing is not the same as regular auto insurance, it’s specifically purchased to cover damage that they’ve caused. If the tow company refuses to cooperate in filing the claim, contact your state’s Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs. And a lawyer.

Oh, and do everything in writing from here on in, including documenting their angry phone calls.

Thanks guys, it seems that the tower and the shop do business regular and the tow shop manager said he would call me when the shop knows whats going on. I had a hard time calming this guy down. He kept asserting that I probably did the damage myself. And it would have happened anyway. Im gonna go to the shop and ask them to talk to me first. Do you think they will scrap the car if I do?

No, but I have to tell you that it now sounds like the tow company is simply waiting for an assessment of whether the cracked tranny came from the tow or was the reason you locked up in the first place. It sounds like he’s willing to accept responsibility for his part (if any) and submit his insurance claim.

The shop should base their analysis purely on what they find, without conjecture.

I’d be inclined to simply tell the shop to be sure to work through you (you are the vehicle’s owner and you have to authorize any work) however do it nicely.

Remember to that the car is an 11 year old Hyundae and may end up “totalled” unless the shop can find a used tranny…which you may want to ask for. Nobody is going to foot the bill for a new tranny for a car this age.

it seems that the tower and the shop do business regular and the tow shop manager said he would call me when the shop knows whats going on.

Oh boy. Knowing this would have me on high alert for the possibility of one covering for the other. If I got any sense that this was happening, I’d want an independant opinion. The trouble is, they may have the whole thing apart when they deliver the diagnosis and it might complicate things. You sound like a calm, intelligent person since you managed to defuse the situation already. Just keep an eye on the proceedings and trust your gut…

Again guys, thanks. I just visited the shop and inquired about the car. Within the hour itll be on a lift. I also told him I received an angry call from the tower and asked to call ME first with any news. He assured me he would. Really I wanted him to know I know they are freindly etc,etc. I love this little car and just want it back.

Sounds as if the tow company is talking in the angry manner simply to intimidate you. Can’t tell if the tranny letting go cracked the case or if the vehicle was winched incorrectly but, people tend to strong arm others to get their way. Any professional would have kept their cool and let the cards play out to see who/what is at fault.

  1. It could be they have no insurance even they are required to.
  2. It could be their rates are high from similiar instances.
  3. It could be they might get cancelled from items like this.
  4. It could be they are simply jerks.

Don’t let them push you around. If you stand up to a bully they tend to back down.

Bingo. There was reason he was acting that way…

Well, today I should find out how this opera turns out. For now Ive gotta start biking to work. Updates to follow, unless I get hit by a tow truck.

Can we assume that the car has a manual transmission? And can we also assume the roll-back driver made no effort to make allowances for the situation?

FWIW, this is not uncommon and situating the truck bed at the “stuck” wheels and lubricating the bed with liquid laundry detergent allows cars to slide somewhat easily up the inclined bed. Of course, if the car’s owner/driver seems capable, holding the clutch pedal down would ease the move but there is always the potential for accidents getting down from the truck.

The truth of the matter is the transmission may already have been junk. Tough situation as this car is only worth about $1000-$2000 and repairing this may approach that.

The potential profit/liability situation that wrecker owners face in such situations keeps many of us out of the business. And makes those in the business somewhat crass and cynical.

Well gang, yes it is a five speed tranny and I was on my way to the shop when it seized up. Originally I was slipping out of first, and a day later first was gone completely. This was in a three day period. The car has 145k on it, but it is immaculate for a 97. And she runs aces. And I was inside of the car when he was winching it up WITH the clutch completely depressed to no effect. I asked the driver to put it on backwards as it rolled freely in reverse. But I can only assume these guys hear all kinds of great ideas from broken down people/knowitalls on a daily basis and disregarded me as such. MOVEING ON…
I just got back from the shop where I authorized 5 hours of labor, removeal, diagnosis, reassembly. And the good news is the tow company is paying for a new case. I couldnt get details from the shop manager but he said I didnt need a new case before the tow and now I do. Thats all he would tell me. So, Im probably gonna drop a grand into a 97 and never ever get next to a flat bed again. Thanks guys for all the ideas and thoughts. Ill let you know how mangled the tranny is when I find out.

I’m on your side but even if you pulled it up on the flatbed backwards, you would have to pull it off frontwards. So are you saying instead of a flatbed (which is generally the preferred method now) they should have used a regular lift and towed it with the front wheels up if FWD?

If that’s the case, I think they should have not used the flatbed and called for a regular tow-so you’re right. They should have known whether it was safe to tow or not.

Why couldn’t the tow truck driver jack up each of the non-turning wheels and place some kind of dolly underneath each one? Then he could have winched it up on to the flatbed without dragging the car.

In summary, I’m understanding that the tow truck driver screwed up and is acknowledging it based on an honest assessment by the shop and is covering the additional damages caused by the tow.

It’s a shame it happened, and the driver should not have made this screwup, but everyone seems to be acting in an honest and responsible manner. The root cause of the whole sequence of events was the tranny locking up in the first place, and the tow driver compounded the problem. It’ll be interestting to find out how much damage was pre-tow and how much was post-tow.

Gang, Just back from the shop. The tranny bearing let go and mangled the innerds of the trans. It is quite an ugly sight. The tow driver pulling against the locked gears, shattered the case. I am putting in a used trans and new clutch, when in Rome ,etc. The tow fee is waved and there will be a reduction in labor, an hour I think. I still havent gotten a blow by blow ,but Hands have been extended and Im good with that.Finally, let me say what I told the tow shop manager during his rather angry phone call, Im just a regular working stiff with a broken down car, when I called for a tow, I wasnt expecting to further damage the vehicle. I simply called the tow shop and explained what happened. The driver brushed me off, the manager went even further in marginalizing my concerns and I tried to remain as calm as I could and asked for opinions and guidance. The transmission shop I went to has a relationship with the tow company and I figured that was that. Well, it turns out that the transmission shop is full of caring knowledgeable guys, not unlike myself, who are working every day and looking out for their customers and business associates. If I called the wrong tower, I certainly limped into the right repair shop. These guys couldnt be nicer or more honest and forthright. SO, 1997 hyundai elantra, used tranny, new clutch, high miles, happy owner. Thanks for everything and drive safe. Bill.