What now with the Toyota Tacoma?

My grandson drives the toyota (my gift)- it is the small one - nothing fancy. It is a 1999 with 260,000 miles. He was in an accident. The AAA tow truck driver, called to tow the truck to the tire shop to do basic repair (front left tire and fender and whatever holds the tire on) said he had a great place that would not only do the structural repair but the body work as well - Johnny’s auto repair. Johnny gave the truck a replacement fender but that’s about all - shortly after grandson got the truck back he was complaining about it pulling sharply to the right - he soon saw that the tires were showing metal and that the left tire was actually tilted inward - these were tires less than a year old - took the truck back to Johnny - he had it for over 2 weeks did nothing but make excuses - picked truck up and took it to Les Schwab dealer to be aligned (Johnny had said that was all that was needed) Les Schwab told us that it couldn’t be aligned because frame was twisted - took truck back to Johnny for 3 weeks - he said it was repaired and we could pick it up at Goodyears with two new tires and aligned for just $100 more - back we go - guy at Goodyears tells us that the tires are used and one of them causes the truck to drift and when I ask if it is fixed he carefully says that it was in an accident - back we go to Les Schwab - they align truck but tell us that repair work is not properly done that it is better but not fixed - the angles still are not right - question is - What next- Sell the truck to Johnny (?) write Bureau of Auto repair and complain (which I’ll do anyway) and write off my $1600. Or try to find a body shop to repair truck. I don’t want grandson driving an unsafe vehicle. Thanks - We listen to your program all the time - has made many a long drive worthwhile punctuated with giggles and gasps and outright laughter.

Shame on these repair people for taking your money trying to salvage such an old, high mileage vehicle. I don’t have a good remedy for you. Good luck getting something back out of these incompetent swindlers.

Can you get anything from your insurance company? They might just total the vehicle but you could recover some of what you have spent. If you want, you could try small claims court to recover some repair costs. If the (space) frame was bent in a vehicle this old and with this mileage, it probably should have been totaled.

Johnny did you no favors.

The good news is that the frame is a box frame and pretty tough. The front axle is held on by two “A frames”, one upper and one lower. It’s possible that one of the A frames or a mount is damaged, or perhaps more likely a ball joint is damaged or the axle itself is bent. A good shop should be able to replace the damaged parts(s). In order to actually bend the frame you would have likely had to do a lot more damage than that which would lean a wheel over.

I’d look for a good independent chassis shop and have it looked at.

Definitely get it looked at by a reputable body shop-- if the frame is indeed “twisted” the cost of repair will no doubt exceed any reasonable measure of the truck’s worth. Unless Johnny is giving you a very generous offer to atone for him majorly screwing up, I would not sell it to him.

Unfortunately, you probably don’t have any legal recourse. Doing a bunch of work on a truck that’s not repairable is definitely unethical, but if what he billed you for corresponds to what he actually did, it’s perfectly legal and you’re probably not going to get any money back. Definitely consider it a sunk cost when considering whether to repair the truck.

I would also complain to the tow truck driver who referred you and, if he doesn’t seem adequately shocked and apologetic, to AAA about how that driver funneled you into a total schiester.