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My shop returned a car to me that was not safe to drive

I take my car to a shop, some distance from my home, which is owned and operated by someone I know socially through a club. While work on my brand of car is never inexpensive I feel like this shop has always given me a fair deal and a much better price than a dealer.

I recently had roughly $1000 of steering work done on my car and in the process the front tires (badly in need of replacement) were moved to the rear. When I left the shop the tires seemed much worse than when they were on the front, but I was warned that they were in somewhat dire shape. On the shop’s advice my next stop was a tire shop to replace the offending tires; the trip was however about 25 miles from my acquaintance’s shop to my local tire shop.

When the mechanic went to remove the rear tires the left rear was missing three lug nuts and the remaining two were only finger tight. I was able to get the lug nuts and new tires with no damage to the car or myself. I called the shop and left a message describing my adventure which was returned the next day. The owner of the shop was apologetic, and asked me what he should do to make it right.

So, while there was no permanent damage that I can see, I was returned a car that was not safe to drive. In addition to replacing the lug nuts I had to buy; any thoughts on what would be fair?

Thanks for your input.

“The owner of the shop was apologetic, and asked me what he should do to make it right.”

So, while there was no permanent damage that I can see, I was returned a car that was not safe to drive. In addition to replacing the lug nuts I had to buy; any thoughts on what would be fair?

There you have it. No harm done so no claim and the shop is trying to make it right. I know you do not feel good, but stuff happens. If this was cardiac bypass surgery you would be even more miffed, but still could happen.

I say, let the shop give you a free oil change and tire rotation and keep using them.

Wait for others to chime in.

I mostly agree with galant, the shop owner recognizes the fault and owned up to it. I certainly would continue to do business there unless there’s another reason to change.

I would only suggest that you reinforce the point that the shop’s carelessness put you in danger, and that you hope that starting now they are more careful about such things that put customer safety in jeopardy. Asking for some free service may be ok, but I wouldn’t initiate that, I’d accept whatever they offer, so long as you feel they’ve upgraded their attention to safety issues.

Errors do happen. Things like this are never malicious. Thing of yourself and your mistakes at work. At least this potentially dangerous item nothing happened. They owe you lug nuts and apology.

I would continue using them if you like the place otherwise,

I vote with the prior responses. Errors happens to the best. Only the best admit it. I would stick with this shop.

Errors can indeed happen to anyone.
Many years ago, when installing snow tires on the rear wheels of my father’s Galaxie 500, I was interrupted by a phone call, and–to make a long story short–wound up driving away a few minutes later with the lug nuts on one of the wheels only finger-tight. I discovered my mistake after a few minutes of driving, due to some weird handling on a turn.

Unless you believe that there is someone at this shop who intentionally failed to properly secure that wheel, then you should just chalk it up to human error. I think that the shop owner’s acknowledgement of the situation is a very good indication that he will make a reasonable offer to compensate you for your time, expense, and inconvenience.

If everyone refused to return to a shop where any kind of mistake had ever been made, we would have a whole lot of folks changing shops every month. As Mr. Meehan pointed out, the owner’s response is a positive sign, and I would also suggest that you continue to use this shop.

I tip my hat to the owner for his honesty. Unfortunately, things do happen. We’re all human.
I would continue to patronize him, since he did own up to and apologise for the problem. Let him give you a free oil change and perhaps both you and he will feel better.

This is a perfect example of the Peter Principle. The mechanic who did this should be demoted to something he/she can handle and I would not trust that mechanic with oil changes either as he/she might forget to add new oil, properly install the drain plug or tighten the new filter securely. I would not make excuses to justify this incompetence.

It’s true that if you are not making an occasional error, you may not be doing anything at all but this example is over the top as your safety is very much a factor. Double checks should be part of a thinking mechanic’s normal procedure for certain operations. Did the mechanic use lock washers, cotter pins in castle nuts or Loctite where needed on your steering mechanism? Did the mechanic use a torque wrench with the correct torque values?

Don’t reward incompetence. Who knows what they might do next time. Find another mechanic! Otherwise make it clear that you don’t want that person working on your car again.

I had this happen to me. And I’m the one that did it!

I was returning from Friday’s work in rush hour on the freeway when all of a sudden my car started wobbling from side to side. Never had that symptom before, and it was bad. Very bad. I thought a front axel shaft may have broken or something. I was barely able to exit the freeway and driving about 1 miles per hour was all that was possible, I was able to find a place park in a parking lot there. I took the bus home, and arranged to have a shop have the car towed to them the next day.

Later that evening while watching tv I started to wonder what could be the cause? Then I remembered I had rotated the tires the prior weekend. Could it be simply a loose wheel? I packed up a screwdriver and my shop lug wrench (breaker-bar and socket) on my bicycle and road the bike back to the car. Sure enough, the lug nuts on one wheel had come loose. Tightened them up, popped the bike in the trunk, and drove home with no problems. And told the shop to cancel the tow truck.

I’ll never know if I forgot to tighten the lugs or what. The lugs on all the other wheels were on tight. Maybe the wheel wasn’t aligned with the surface it gets bolted too, cock-eyed or something, and I didn’t notice.

The shop is owning up to the mistake without making excuses so I would just ask that they stand behind any potential future problem that may occur with those lugs and ask for a free oil change as a gesture of good will. If they had not been so forthcoming then I wouldn’t recommend being so benevolent.

This may not be a matter of incompetence at all. Every mechanic on the face of the Earth, no matter how sharp, has made mistakes; multiple mistakes at that.
It could be that in this case the mechanic was very competent and may have been interrupted in the process of installing the wheels for any number of reasons and let one slip by. Co-worker asking for help on something, shop owner stepping in with a question on an unrelated matter, who knows. That’s not making an excuse for this problem; only showing that it’s very easy for the mind to get sidetracked during the hustle and bustle of the day.

Try to kill me with incompetence and then talk nice to me and then everything will be just peachy. Not!

If a wheel would have come off to make a crash with personal injury, a trial lawyer would take that car repair business to the cleaners.

We make mistakes.
Hope the owner spoke to whomever put the wheels on and found out what happened.
I would continue to go there.
Like galant’s suggestion.