Complaint: (Complaint entered by Cleveland BBB staff - LST) Consumer originally paid $623 ($523 & $100 diagnostic fee) for repairs recommended by Company which included replacing battery and starter. Vehicle drove fine for 3 weeks and then died on the freeway. Consumer brought vehicle back. Company now says their initial diagnosis was wrong and Consumer must pay additional $1000 for a power module. In addition, when Consumer went to p/u vehicle she found the windshield has been damaged while in Company's possession.
Initial Business Response
Contact Name and Title: *************
Contact Phone: ************
Contact Email: ********************
December 2, 2013
Better Business Bureau
Mrs. ***** had her vehicle towed into our facility on 10/25/13 because she said her vehicle started to make a loud screeching noise and then quit while driving, then would not restart. She gave us signed permission to diagnose the vehicle.
Our technician diagnosed a damaged starter and bad battery to start. We could not go any further on diagnosis until these items were repaired as we needed the vehicle to be able start to do any further diagnosis. She authorized those repairs to start.
After making those repairs and getting the vehicle running the only other engine related issue we found was a code logged into the vehicle computer for a crank sensor issue, which did not relate to her screeching complaint. There were many other mechanical issues the vehicle needed, as we will send along a copy of our technicians write up with this letter, but none related to her initial complaint.
We informed her after driving the vehicle multiple times on the roadways and rechecking for related issues we could not duplicate her complaint. We do not just sell customer parts or try to guess what is happening to a vehicle unless we can quantify the issue, we understand she may have had another issue, but if the problem is intermittent and the vehicle is running fine at the time it is in the shop we can only repair the issues at hand and that is all we charged her for. We acknowledged all that to her and let her know if the screeching problem happens again to bring it back in for further diagnosis.
Obviously the deeper issue was very intermittent, as the vehicle was towed back in to us on 11/14/13 with the same complaint as on the original date. That was 3 weeks after it left originally. Three weeks for the original complaint to happen again is extraordinarily intermittent. I cant imagine the cost one would have to charge to keep a technician on a vehicle for 3 weeks or more to get a vehicle to act up with that kind of intermittent issue and no manufacturers diagnostics codes showing or any other tell tale issue.
After inspecting the vehicle the second time we found the starter was damaged again, upon pulling it out of the engine, this time we were able to see marks from where it looked as if the starter motor was engaging the flywheel after the engine was already running, causing this damage to happen.
The problem being why is the starter motor engaging very intermittently after the motor is already running. After replacing the starter motor the second time, again this issue would not occur in the shop or during our multiple road tests, and with no manufacturers warning lights or diagnostic codes to work with.
We then proceeded to spend multiple hours trying to diagnose an issue that again was not happening. We did this by a process of elimination of wiring by continuity testing, following a schematic and eliminating all possibilities, except for the TIPM computer module, which of course the manufacturer has no direct test for, you can only try to eliminate everything else and the replace the module with a good known part and see if it cures your issue, which obviously in this case may take several weeks to find out as the problem was that intermittent.
In this particular case we were convinced this was the problem, a computer that was very intermittently shorting out and trying to start the engine when it was not supposed to. We then called the customer with our diagnostic opinion, gave a price on the repair for parts and labor with only a minimum diagnostic charge of one half hour although we spent many multiple man hours diagnosing.
The customer declined the repairs, we replaced the second starter at no charge even though it was not the starters fault it was damaged. The customer was advised we cannot control defective manufacturer's parts and intermittent issues. The cost of the repair would have been the same to the customer had the problem been discovered the first time although they would have paid more for the diagnostic's initially, which we did not charge them for the second time.
Initially we did not do the wiring testing and process of elimination as we could not see the starter damage marks and could not duplicate the customers' complaint, nor did we charge for it. We only initially charged for what we checked and repaired.
We did everything on the same professional basis as we always do, engaging the customer in the process. We only wish it was simple to find intermittent issues as I am sure doctors do too. We understand that people do not realize that there are far more electronics on a car today than the Apollo 13 that went to the moon.
As far as the windshield crack, the vehicle was towed in to our facility. The crack was there when the vehicle arrived here. I myself saw it along with the technician and pointed it out to the service writer before we performed any service. Also we did no work in the area of the crack. Last but not least many cracks start from a stone or debris chip and could be exacerbated from the stress of being winched up or the front end being lifted up and towed. Just a thought on my part if the customer says it was not there before. We have no way of confirming it.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
There was a crack across the entire windshield, which was not there when it was dropped off. I was at Goodyear when the car was dropped off, and the damage was not there at that time.
Final Business Response
In response to Mrs. *****'s windshield crack. Yes, there was a crack in the windshield the morning after the vehicle was towed back in to our facility, we did not cause any damage to the windshield. We assumed that she was aware the her windshield was cracked at the time, there is a very visible stone chip where the crack started directly in the middle of the windshield where the defrost vent duct is located.
The crack in the windshield was derived from the chip. The most plausible cause is from heat, in this weather, the constant freezing and heating of the windshield with a chip will cause a crack very quickly. Also the stress from towing, lifting vehicle onto tow truck may have caused the crack. We have no idea what company towed this vehicle and if they noted any windshield crack.
To be amicable towards Mrs. *****, we will extend the offer of replacing her windshield for the cost of goods. I have estimated Mrs. *****'s cost to replace at $150.00. If she wishes to have the windshield replaced, we will need a one day notice to order the windshield and she will need to drop off the vehicle for a day.
Complaint Resolution: Company addressed the complaint issues. The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to BBB.