Sears "repaired" my car

Sears last touched one of my cars back in the 90’s. While replacing struts on one of my vehicles they sabotaged my brakes by not reattaching the lines and hoses properly to the strut so that the rubber hoses would flex instead of the steel lines. As a result I lost my brakes in heavy traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway in NYC when the steel lines inevitably broke. An attempt to repair the damage by a Sears Auto Center in the Bronx resulted in more damage which I demanded that they repair properly. After that terrifying and horrifying experience I swore to NEVER use Sears for auto service and I have kept that promise to this day.

IMHO, going to Sears and expecting to get a competent mechanic to work on your car is not very different from going to McDonald’s and expecting to find a professional chef to cook your burger and fries.

Isn’t the phrase “Sears repaired ___________” (insert anything), an oxymoron?

To the original questions, I agree with Yosemite. And Sears does seem to be treating you reasonably well.

If the radiator replacement was defective in parts or labor and so caused the post-repair failure, Sears should be responsible. For example, the improper hose attachment as suggested before.
If there was something else wrong and so the radiator replacement alone could not have been sufficient for your car, Sears is at fault for failing to detect this and tell you so that you could make an informed decision. In this case, you could argue the Sears owes you for the radiator work IF you do not repair the real problem (junk the car, for example). i think this applies unless Sears was clear in limiting their work ONLY to having found a radiator crack and offering to work on that AND without having looked any further into the cause of the actual problem.
But if you do repair the actual problem, then Sears should not be expected to have done the radiator work for free. You might be able to get an adjustment if Sears was too expensive for the radiator, but then the rental car and anything else might to to Sears’ credit.

Sears automotive department has been brought up on charges more then once in multiple states.

Sears also has unloaded a lot of their stores and they are now known as hometown stores or something like that and I also believe their parts and repair operations. They are privately owned but licensed for the name and Sears brands by Sears Holding Company. Who knows what Sears is anymore or what they own but they certainly are divesting their operations.

Sears created their Hometown Stores division in 2012, and then spun it off in…2012!
Pretty soon, there won’t be much left of the old chain to spin-off into separate entities in order to raise cash.

I have to agree that the Sears auto stores and many other chain type stores have the same problem with hiring and keeping the untrained mechanics posing as experienced mechanics.

My wife had an uncle that worked for many years as a Sears Mechanic. Even though he was a favorite of mine, somehow I never knew what his profession was.

After he had died I bought the Dakota pickup that he had. Through the years I had seen many of his attempts at repairs…many could have been simple fixes, but instead were thrown together with whatever was handy from what he could find in the junk bins in his garage.

I remember a tail light that must have given him problems. He did diagnose that the ground was bad, but instead of attaching a proper ground wire to the socket, he ran a new ground from the body…stripped the other end and slid it between the bulb and socket. This was not a job “just until he got to the store”, because where he ran the wire through the light housing…he tried to seal it with duck tape. A new socket for that light cost me less than $5

The oil pan drain plug had been so rounded off that you could see all the burs from the vise-grip he used for the last few oil changes.

The positive battery cable clamp had been stretched from over tightening and a hose clamp was wrapped around it and tightened.

I found many electrical repairs done with wire nuts and more duck tape.


This is the “chicken or the egg” situation and it is very likely that the head gasket had failed and caused the radiator tank to burst and replacing the radiator without considering the cause for its failure was a dumb move. In my opinion Sears should refund 100% of what the OP had paid them.

YS, only a quack uses duck tape. :wink:

Hi, a quick update. I guess the manager (who, it turns out, used his own credit card to set me up in my rental) immediately escalated the problem to their (Sears’) insurance division as I got a call from them Sunday evening. They indeed had the car towed to the Nissan dealership where the mechanic there had told them that the engine was producing a loud knocking sound whenever the car was started and in their estimation the engine was shot. The insurance lady told me that they were going to pay their own mechanic to go out and examine the car to see where their liability is. They are paying the full fees for my rental car until this is resolved. I should have a call back by Friday with their findings. If the engine needs replaced and their negligence caused the engine to reach that final state, I’m not even sure dropping a new engine into this 2001 car is going to be a wise financial step. I certainly wouldn’t do it if it turns out I would be responsible for it. As I’ve stated previously, I’ve never been in this situation with a car repair so I have no idea what the normal process is and thus what to expect. A new engine and labor has to be somewhere in the range of $1000-$1500 surely, doesn’t it?
They are being incredibly accommodating and helpful in all of this which of course I appreciate. I can only assume it’s because they either screwed up the repair at the shop and didn’t test drive it at all. I know the repair had them to the wire as it wasn’t completed for me to pickup until about 15 minutes before they were scheduled to close. I just got the sheet of paper, listing what they had done and the service fees for them, they took my $400 and sent me on my way. Looking back now it was a potentially dangerous thing to do sending me out in the car as it promptly overheated as I was driving home along the highway leaving me stranded there.
I have only had limited interaction with Sears’ automotive side in the past, and hadn’t heard any horror stories so I think it’s understandable that I might not have been aware that as someone put it “going to sears and expecting quality work is like going to McDonalds and expecting a 5 star chef” (or words to that effect.) I just wanted the job that I paid for to be done properly and I told them that I NEEDED a running car. No effort was made to diagnose any other problem that might have been the cause of the cracked radiator. I was just left with the installation of a new radiator, $23 for coolant, $65 for their “coolant service”, labor charges and $14 for a shiny new radiator cap.
I will post an update when I get the final report from the Sears insurance company. Thanks again for all the help and suggestions, even the rather insulting ones.

rebuilt – remanufactured engine can cost $2000 to $4000, installed, including all the other bits and pieces that also have to be replaced at the same time.
A new engine perhaps $1000 more.

read this:

Through the 1960s, remanufactured engines were available at Sears and its automotive service department installed a lot of engines. Engines back then were often worn out before 100,000 miles. Even then, however, it was questionable whether, it was,worthwhile to install a replacement engine in a car more than 10 years old,

I went back and reread your original post. “My car broke down and I noticed a cracked radiator.”

If by broke down, you mean you drove your car with an empty radiator until it didn’t move anymore, the engine damage was already done.

You had the car towed to Sears- What did you tell them to do?
Did you tell them you needed a radiator. Or did you ask them to find out what was wrong with your car.

If you asked them to diagnose what was wrong with you car besides the obvious blown radiator, they, and most of the national chains are not very good at doing that, but you would still be responsible for their labor rate which may have been more than the radiator job.

Sears does not owe you for a new engine, you should consider yourself very lucky if you get all or most of your $400 back.

Thank you for the update. With these developments, I think Sears is treating you remarkably well and they should be given credit for that.
You remarks may include at least one critical point in your favor, which is they might not have tested the car before returning it to you. If so, their potential liability is complicated by the difficulty in sorting out the car’s condition before and after radiator change. If they want to argue that everything was fine before, then their work would seem to have possibly caused the problems. If they want to argue that something else was wrong before their work, then they have to answer why they missed it (or didn’t tell you about it).

Perhaps one thing to watch out for is if they only did radiator work because you told them that that was the only problem and they did not fully check out your car. If this comes up, they might try to argue that they screwed up the repair and owe you for that, but they are not responsible for a preexisting problem that was not caused by an apparently bad repair (sudden rapid loss of so much coolant so soon). This might come down to what seems most likely. Do you have any info directly from dealership mechanic? Can you get any, especially reason for engine being “shot”?

I think I’m agreeing with Oldtimer. I really can’t see how Sears would have any liability for a new engine and really don’t quite understand their rental car and towing actions. If they bungled the radiator job by not purging the system or something, and that lead to ruining the engine, maybe. But it sounds like damage was already done and they just missed the real cause. Put in a radiator that didn’t fix the problem. Seems to me the most they would be liable for is the cost of the radiator. What shop would pay for a rental car?

At any rate, unless there is a lot of unknowns, I can’t see any way they will be paying for an engine, and I suspect the cost is closer to $5000, so get ready. The last engine I had replaced over 25 years ago cost me $2500.

My daughter paid over $6000 for a Jasper rebuilt 4 cylinder engine for a Rav4. The Toyota dealer wanted $11000. This was 2-3 years ago.

A new engine is $5400 plus fluids and the parts necessary to install the engine. The labor for a long block is 19 hours. This would come to $8,500 for a new engine, double the value of the car. The wholesale price on a remanufactured engine is $2200.

I also see some info is missing?