Improper repairs and inspection, family almost died, & they want more money... now what do I do?

Bought van and needed it inspected. It had passed inspection for the previous owner 4 months prior.
It failed this time - left wheel ball joint. $300

They took an entire day to “fix”. Gave us a passing vehicle inspection paper, picked it up at closing, and husband almost died driving it home 2 miles.
He had no brakes and could feel/hear a bad grinding.

Called in the morning, they towed it back to the shop, “fixed”. The paperwork said they did a complimentary brake check and the left axle was left loose. They admitted verbally they made the mistake of just doing the work and not checking their work (just passing the inspection without actually inspecting).
Tried to drive it, immediately took back because it was still grinding.
Now they want another $300 to replace a wheel bearing that was “a pre-existing condition” that “wouldn’t have been checked for the inspection”.
The van was not grinding before we took it in.
The owner/manager is refusing to fix it without us shelling out more money, without even an apology for almost killing my husband and 2 year old.
Husband has called the corporate customer service who has “escalated it and will be contacted by district manager in the next few days”.
We’ve already not had the van for 5 days.

At this point I don’t know what to do… if corporate doesn’t get anything accomplished do we just take the van to another mechanic to have it fixed and shell out more money? Is this sueable? We don’t have the resources or interest in suing but the way we’ve been treated on top of their mistakes is beyond frustrating.

Could they have mistaken the wheel ball joint as bad when it was actually the bearing?
Could leaving the left axle loose been the culprit of the van issues?
Could not purchasing an alignment in conjunction with the ball joint work make the van this bad in a matter of 2 miles of driving?
I’m not even sure what the right question to ask is anymore. Just frustrated and I don’t know cars very well and I know they’re just trying to get more money out of us.

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They screwed it up twice already, why would you take it back a third time?

So we don’t have to pay hundreds more dollars for an issue they caused? I’m hoping they have one capable mechanic there who can do basic car maintenance jobs right.
I mean, if I had money to blow, we never would have let them work on it again
Obviously we are never going back after this is resolved.

If there was NO noise heard before the ball joint repair, I’d have to conclude they caused whatever the noise is. I have never heard of a loud bearing noise suddenly appearing like this due to normal bearing wear.

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Driving with a loose axle nut will damage the wheel bearing, cause the brake rotor to tilt resulting in a low brake pedal.


You can’t open it up with “my husband and 2 year old almost died” and then go back to “I want to save money.”

Whatever you save if they agree to look at it again will be worthless if someone actually does get killed.

Take it to another mechanic. Get it fixed. While there, ask the mechanic to write down exactly what’s wrong with it. Then approach the first mechanic and start demanding settlement money. You might eventually recover some if not all of what you paid the first idiot, without putting your family’s lives at further risk.

As for suing, if it happened as you said, then yes, it’s a good candidate for a lawsuit. $300 is below the small claim’s limit just about everywhere, so you don’t need to hire a lawyer. Just pay the filing fee (and include it in your damages plea) and then go tell the judge what happened. Preferably bring all documentation, including what the second shop that will actually fix your car said about the damage. If you’re really lucky, he’ll be willing to testify that the damage to your car was caused by X which most likely resulted from Dumbshop’s incompetence.


Because the OP mentioned “corporate”, I have a feeling that these “repairs” were done at a chain-run shop. Could the OP clarify that issue for us?

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Yeah, that’s my assumption as well. Actually OP might be able to recover her money without a lawsuit. Social media shaming has generated results more than a few times.

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It was done at Firestone. Customer service is currently taking their sweet time resolving.

You can’t open it up with “my husband and 2 year old almost died” and then go back to “I want to save money.”

Yes, my family’s lives are priceless.

I want Firestone to hold their employees accountable, the van to be safe, and to not shell out money we don’t have. (I feel like it’s implied that I’m just trying to save a few bucks at the expense of safety… this whole situation has made me feel absolutely terrible, that’s why I came here for suggestions or at least some possible mechanical explanations for what happened. The owner/manager treated us terribly and acted like this whole situation was not Firestone’s fault. The total amount they are asking for is half of a paycheck for us… unfortunately I do have to be practical with our limited income)

Thank you for the small claims suggestion. It will be $600+ worth of work for the bearing and rod, though I can’t prove the condition of those things before they did the work. But I could ask the tow guy to testify… he confirmed there were no brakes whatsoever when he came to tow it which is definitely something we can prove they did do wrong (along with the passed vehicle inspection).

We will be taking the van to another mechanic regardless of what Firestone does/doesn’t do to the van to ensure it’s safe to drive.

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For sure! These bolts should be torqued at the manufacturer spec after the CV joint is inserted into the hub.


Unlikely that a faulty wheel bearing would make them think the ball joint was the problem. It is possible of course the wheel bearing was already faulty, no way to know over the internet. But assuming the wheel bearing wasn’t faulty before, most likely the ball joint job didn’t get fully completed ( for some reason, maybe the shop tech got a phone call and forgot to finish the job). Then they gave you the vehicle to drive away with an incomplete suspension system job, and that’s why the brakes failed and the wheel bearing got damaged. As long as you reported this problem to them immediately after you discovered it, I’d say they should fix the wheel bearing for you gratis. If they balk tell them they can test the other 3 wheel bearings, and if one of them is faulty, then you’ll admit it is possible the wheel bearing in question might also have been on the verge, so you’ll split the cost 50/50 of replacing that wheel bearing with them.

If you live in a southern coastal state, remember that big storm they had there in the fall of 2016 ? Caused a lot of high water? Shops are now seeing more than the normal numbers of failed wheel bearings, thought to be caused from that. So that’s another possibility for the failed wheel bearing.

Going forward suggest to use a local independent shop for your auto repair work. Ask friends, co-workers, fellow church-goers etc who they use to get their cars fixed. I think you’ll find you get better results for the money.

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You’re giving some guys too much credit :frowning_face:

fyi . . . when you rock the tire at 12 and 6, a loose, faulty, misadjusted, etc. wheel bearing will feel similar to a bad ball joint.

A good eye and further diagnosis is required


This bears repeating, in my opinion.
Going to a chain-run operation for car repairs and maintenance, and expecting expert service on your car, is tantamount to going to a fast food restaurant and expecting a skilled chef to prepare your food.


Thanks everyone.

Going to a chain-run operation for car repairs and maintenance, and expecting expert service on your car, is tantamount to going to a fast food restaurant and expecting a skilled chef to prepare your food.

Husband just thought it would be a quick inspection with nothing wrong.
I told him Firestone wasn’t a good idea… now he believes me. :roll_eyes:
The mechanic shop I trust is a “bit of a drive,” but expert, honest work is worth it.
Unfortunately live in a city with a LOT of dishonest upselling chains and shops.
The only good experiences I’ve heard from people were 20+ miles away… but I digress.

Thanks again.

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Yeah, but here’s the thing. You don’t always have to have direct evidence in order to prevail. If a guy is on camera waving a gun around, and then just as he gets past where the camera can see, someone gets shot, it’s not all that hard to put 2 and 2 together even though you didn’t actually see him shoot anyone.

Similar story here - - if what Firestone negligently did could cause the problems you have now, then all you have to do is get a mechanic to convince the judge that 1) Firestone screwed up and 2) it’s exceedingly likely that your current problems are a direct result of that screwup.

I mean, if someone rear-ends me, I can’t prove that my bumper was firmly attached before the wreck, but when it falls off after they hit me, they’re gonna end up paying for it.


I’m sure it just depends on the particular store but I had to use a Firestone in Florida for my son’s car some years ago. Actually the diagnosis was pretty good needing a coil and I expected the testing expense but they also wanted to add on plugs and wires. We just stopped at Pep Boys and did that ourselves. Still it cost me $350 for a coil, but hey, 1500 miles from home and at Disney and on a schedule so options were limited.

It was interesting though that while I was waiting, a lady came in to complain about her brake job they had done. They pretty much replaced rotors, pads, and sounded like other parts but it still wasn’t right. I didn’t hear what they charged her but sounded substantial. At any rate I was a little leery of the shop after hearing her.

Also interesting that the manager said it was a slow time until people got their tax refunds back and would get their cars fixed then. Guess that’s Florida. In Minnesota, you get your car fixed regardless of the tax season.

I think the point I was going to make is that if you don’t know anything about cars, and can’t do your own work or evaluate the work being done, you are best off going to a respected shop or dealer. Yeah price is higher but more likely to get quality work done. Like everything else there are no bargains.

Fairly unlikely that you’ll freeze to death if your car breaks down between cities in Florida. :wink:

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That’s true, but you might be eaten by an alligator, or squeezed to death by one of their newly-resident Burmese Pythons, or you might fall into one of that state’s famous sinkholes!


Ok, there’s some downsides to Florida, but remember you can enjoy some tasty oranges before your demise. And you can go to DisneyWorld … lol …

Sorry to hear of your problems but glad that noone was hurt. Chain shops are hit or miss, but I’ve had good experiences with shops recommended in Car Talks “Mechanics Files”, and you can ask around. Find a competent & honest owner run shop, or if necessary a dealership, and stick with it - pay for work once and have peace of mind.

Follow the above advice about having a competent shop document and fix the problem, then try for a refund or go the small claims court route as suggested. You can file a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and try any newspaper or similar public media complaint resolution “services” that have leverage based on the threat of public exposure or shaming.

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