Hydraulic Lift Failed With My Car On It!

“We spoke with our insurance company and they said something to the effect of: Get back to us when they give you their numbers.”

That seems reasonable. They will advise you concerning the repairs recommended. I assume that the cost is not part of “the numbers” becasue it is not important to you.

Unfortunately, no one owes you a new car. The dealership and their insurer at most owe you a used 2009 truck with the same or more options in a color scheme that you are satisfied with. They have to replace the truck with one that is at least the same as the one that is damaged. This is probably possible by repairing this one. Ask them about checking for frame warpage or damage after the truck is repaired, or whether thay can do it now to help determine if it can be fixed with the funds available to them.

Thanks so much for all of your helpful responses. I am printing them out so that I have a framework of what to discuss with the dealer/mechanic. I am so grateful for everyone who has given their time to read and answer!

My gut feeling is still that the vehicle did not actually “fall” at a rapid pace, which could cause some serious damage if this were to happen.
This would require a sudden and catastrophic hydraulic failure and the odds of this are near zero.

It’s more than likely due to creep-off and the failure of the person servicing the car to make sure the safety catch is operative; which should be done even if the lift was not creeping off.

I’ve worked with a number of creeping lifts and it’s not a problem IF the catch is operative. Odds are the catch in this instance did not flip down due to grunge when the lift was raised and the tech overlooked it.

Anyone who has been in the auto service business knows that creeping lifts are not a rare thing and it’s also why it’s the tech’s responsibility to make double sure the catch is operable.

Considering the transmission problem and this incident, my feeling is that a deal should be worked out for another '09 vehicle since this is a 10k miles Escape.

Since it happened over the weekend when no one was there, there’s no way to be sure how fast it fell. Because the engine was on a jack, It slid backward onto the back wheels which would be ok except there’s no way to know what kind of gouging the jack under the engine or the arms of the lift did as they slid across the frame until they ended up caught up under the wheel wells…

Pardon me for waxing philosophical…

If a car falls in the shop, and no one’s there to see it…
Does it do any damage?

Lets get this point straightened out…Did the car “fall off” the lift, the lift remaining up in the air, or did the lift itself come down, the engine support jack then acting as a lever to push the car off the lift as the lift came down??

Also: “Nobody was in the shop”…Don’t bet your life on that…

In my understanding, it was a little of both. The lift started to come down (no idea how fast), but since the jack under the engine did not come down with the lift, the car slid backwards off the lift until the front support pieces of the lift hooked themselves into the front wheel wells. If it went slow, the car hung there like that, and if it went fast, the front came crashing down after. There was hydraulic fluid all over the floor (it spewed pretty far) from the tube bursting. My husband took some pictures (not sure how or if I can post them) when he got there, but by then the car was back a little and the front was on jacks.

I am not an attorney, but did study business law for CPA exam. I also did a very large amount of legal research, and any comment they owe you a new car for a year old one with 10,000 miles is totally off the wall. Period, end of debate, etc.

The most they owe is the current market value of that vehicle. This will most likely be the dealer’s insurance company, and the dealer will have no more control over the settlement than you do when you smash into someone.

In most cases they are not required to find you a replacement. If they write a check for the correct amount, you are on your own.

Of course, the dealer might possibly want to get involved but that is voluntary and you can’t force it.

For example, as a matter of goodwill, they could, if they wish, give you a better deal on another car, for example they buy wholesale, and could let you have a car with less miles for the same price by kissing off on the profit. But, they don’t have to. That’s why they pay insurance.

Of course, that assumes the car is totaled, which remains to be seen.

I do know in one state where I lived 15 or 20 years ago, one could collect, in addition to the actual cost of repairs, an extra amount to cover the reduced sale value caused by a major incident in the car history. I remember because a fellow worker asked me to help him figure out the amount he should demand. I have no idea if other states have such a provision or not.

Is this ‘fair’? Well, I have never thought so. But, I am not in charge, so this is the way it is and neither you nor I can change it.

“So much for Ford being more reliable than other makes.”

Spoken like a true Chevy man :wink:

LOL… YES it will still do damage. A tree in the woods? that’s another deal entirely

The answer of who owes whom what is complicated. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage then your own insurance company isn’t going to help one bit because it’s not their problem. If you do have comprehensive coverage then it depends on your policy and who your company is as to how well they respond. You can contact an attorney or wait to see if the offer is acceptable. I carry comprehensive coverage for replacement costs through USAA, in a case like this I would probably already be sitting in my replacement vehicle while the insurance company handled all the niceties. How do you know that the shop’s insurance carrier isn’t the same as your own (which would represent a conflict of interest as regards replacing your vehicle)? Most cities have free legal advice, in a case like this you’d be much better off speaking to them than relying on this forum (although it is entertaining).

Regarding the description of the incident: you mentioned that certain things were not on the vehicle when you saw it after the fall, like the brake rotors, etc., but you didn’t say whether they were on the vehicle prior to the incident. Your Escape’s drive train is also attached at the front axle; if the rotors were ripped off the vehicle during the event, then you may have big problems trying to make 100,000 miles, or even 11,000, with this one due to damage that will not be apparent to you. Also, don’t go back to this mechanic. If they can’t keep their lift in order then don’t trust them with your car.

The lift wouldn’t fail per se, due to safety catches that are incredibly unlikely to give. The catches could be held open or removed, but what kind of moron would work under a lift that was solely held by hydraulics. Oh yeah, the kind that requires them to put idiot stickers on lawn mowers to keep your hands out.

But the mechanic could have easily misaligned it with the lift and one side could have fallen, or someone could have bumped it hard enough, while it was on the lift. The arm of the lift could have scratched and knocked the mirror off as it fell. It doesn’t explain the scratch/mirror if the lift just failed and fell. It’s a mechanic’s nightmare. The brakes, rotor, engine on a chain were probably already detached.

A good shop could put it on a lift, haha, and look underneath for structural damage. You have a vehicle that has only 10k mi and is already getting major surgery and now you have possible structural damage.

Believe that people are inherently good, (despite the evidence), and just take it patiently. Try to remain objective.

It looked to me as though the idiot directing the oncoming car was signaling the driver to turn RIGHT by pointing driver’s RIGHT with his RIGHT hand. I couldn’t have followed those directions either.

I know the local Iffy Lubes and Wal*Marts use pits instead of lifts, not that I’ve ever gone there. Over 30 years ago when I worked for a JC Penney auto center, they dropped a car off of a lift about once a year.