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My Highlander fell off the lift yesterday

Lest you think this is a funny email, this really happened to me yesterday. I took my 2005 Toyota Highlander to the dealer’s yesterday for an oil change and recall job. They called late in the day thanking me for being a long time customer, but that there had been an accident with my car. It fell off the lift from four feet up, landed on its left front bumper, took off the left mirror, scraped and dented the bottom rail all along the left side, dents and nicks all along the left side, doors, panels??I am sick. They said they will x-ray the frame, make everything like new, and guarantee the work for life. The service manager said in 30 years he has ?never had to make this call?. I don?t even know what questions to ask?not sure what to watch out for?will it ever be right again? I want to keep this car for 4-5 more years. I bought it new from them and have taken it to the dealer for absolutely everything I?ve ever had done to it.

Any experience with this stuff? Any advice?

Tell the dealership that before they do any more work on the car, you want to have the car towed–at their expense–to a body shop of your choosing. (Note: If this vehicle has AWD, it needs to be put on a flat-bed car carrier, instead of being towed behind a truck!)

Have the body shop check for chassis damage that could put the entire structure out of alignment. This is something that would not be apparent unless it is put on one of their “jigs” to precisely measure all of the chassis dimensions post accident.

Doing superficial, cosmetic repairs such as the mirror, doors, and panels will make the vehicle look good, but if there is underlying chassis damage this unit-body vehicle will never track correctly again, handling and tire wear will be negatively affected, and impact protection will be compromised.

An impartial third party, such as a body shop of your choosing, is more likely to give you an honest assessment of the full scope of the damage.

Good luck!

It sounds like they are trying to make it right. I would have somebody else look it over before and after the repairs are made to confirm they correct any problems. They should be able to get is all fixed up, this is less than most fender benders, really. Just take the necessary steps to confirm that all needed work is done.

This is a major problem. I’d want an independent inspector to assess the damage. I don’t think they could assure me of no frame damage, misalignment, etc. The can make it look like new, but new it isn’t.

The dealer should offer to settle this for the price of an equivalent “dealer certified” used Highlander of similar miles to your car PLUS $5,000 for your trouble. Or, they can give you a new Highlander, repair your car and sell it on their used car lot. This mistake should cost them, not you.

The dealer has insurance for these mishaps, or they should have insurance. My guess is they’d like to settle this with you without an insurance claim on their record. Don’t accept their 1st offer. You might need a lawyer to advise on this since we are talking about thousands of dollars in this case.

It’s an accident, but it’s NOT your fault.

If the dealer wants to keep your business they will make you a REALLY SWEET deal on a new, or newer, Highlander.

I’d prefer that to repairing your vehicle.

mmm…sounds pretty serious. Thank you for the advice…

thank you…good things to follow up with…I am very concerned that the car has been compromised.

If you have considering purchasing another vehicle, maybe inquire about a decent trade in on the vehicle.

Good luck. Accidents happen…

This is true, accidents do happen and I’m sure they never want to have to deal with anything like this either. Thank goodness no one was injured.

Not looking to trade her in just yet, but will see now!


I was just about to add that. Thank goodness no one was hurt which is far more important than any vehicle.

The last thing I would do is settle this quickly, something which the dealer obviously wants. As much as I hate to suggest it, getting a lawyer to handle things may get you a much (much) sweeter deal in the end and be worth the few hundred bucks it may cost you. And remember, a “gaurantee for life” from the dealer is worth the paper it’s written on.

Your vehicle can take a 4ft fall off a lift and never even break a sweat.X-ray the frame? people take this hidden damage thing much to far. This is an automobile not a gyroscope.

By the way, non withstanding what that manager says cars/trucks fall off the lift all the time.

If the dealership has its own body shop, you should be reasonable and let them do the work to save money. Then, get the work checked by another body shop. If the second body shop finds shoddy work, you can still have it corrected. The dealership seems to have handled this with the utmost professionalism. Don’t turn this in to an adversarial situation if you don’t have to.

I think X-raying the frame is a prudent measure. It could easily have a bent frame, and if it does, I don’t necessarily trust anyone to make it right again. A bent frame should mean it’s totaled.

They have insurance for that, let them fix it.

I like the second opinion mentioned here too.

We had an E150 van fall off a fully raised hoist and land on it’s side once.

Can i just ask…how can that happen? How does a car fall off a lift?

I agree, get a second opinion from an independent body shop.

Some years ago I witnessed a Pontiac fall off of a lift and this one fell from the fully extended position. This led to the car landing on its left side and the car was declared a total.

Sadly, in this case the mechanic that was servicing this car at the time had been complaining for months about that lift and stated many times that at some point a car was going to fall off and kill someone.
In this case it nearly did and almost landed on both the mechanic and the service manager who was standing beside the mechanic at the time.

The owner of the dealership sent orders down to the service manager within 10 minutes of this event to fire the mechanic on the spot. This mechanic was their front end and brake specialist guy and he was a very good one too.

Poor inital setup is the major reason cars fall off lifts. Then a failure with a part of the lift is high on the list. Next comes the car being hit while it is on the lift (like by the box part of a box truck that was driving through the shop). I would say next is if you are operating a large truck lift (large meaning 2.5 ton trucks) and there is a lift for the front and one for the rear you must operated them in unison to a high degree or you can have the back way high and the front too low. Then you have the lifts that like to slam up to the top or come down on their own. Poor setup is the main reason though.We had one lift that liked to come down on its own so the tech put one of those exhaust stands under the lift to keep it up, this support slipped and the lift came down,with a Corvette on the lift. The exhaust support pushed completely through the floof of the Corvette. This happened in Cedearburg WI at Newman Chevrolet,some of the prouder techs had their picture taken next to the Corvette with the spear through it.

Here in Tucson at Don Mackey Cadillac GMC we had a Suburban fall off the lift. This was a pretty odd one as it was an electric above ground lift that was just installed. The investigation blamed the concrete mix as the culprit.

One day the maintenance guy was checking the oil level in the lift (you remove what looks like a 3 foot spear with a 1/2 drive square on a threaded retention cup). The idea is to release the air pressure before you remove the dipstick but that did not happen in this case. Oil hit the ceiling (along with the spear)and filled up two cars sitting next to the place where the dipstick screws into the oil tank.

Indy–There are essentially two kinds of lifts.
One is the type where the vehicle’s wheels are driven onto the ramp-like supports.
The other type uses moveable supports that are placed under appropriate spots on the chassis. This type is used when the mechanic needs access to the suspension and some other components.

The problem with chassis lifts is when the supports are not placed appropriately for a particular vehicle. Tenuous support + some lateral force from a mechanic working on it can be all you need for the vehicle to fall off the lift.

I think you wrote about this in the past, maybe on Old Wrench?