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Vehicle Overheated Because of Customer Negligence


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Here is a challening situation. Last week we did an intake gasket job on a Chervolet Malibu along with other work around $1,000 total. The customer was told to watch for any fluid leaks or so forth and to bring it back in 500 miles to double check everything (that is standard practice for us). Yesterday the woman's 17 year old son called to say the car was smoking. My service manager told him to have it towed in and gave him the number of the towing company. He did not tell his mother this but instead chose to drive it in. It completely overheated and quit about 2 blockes form the shop. When he walked in to tell me what was going on I asked him why he did not have it towed and he said "I had to be somewhere". Anyway it looks like that the problem was that after we got the system back up to operating pressure by replacing the intake the water pump had failed. We did not replace the water pump and it was not leaking when the car was in the shop. Now it looks like we could have a car with a blown engine or best case scenario a crack head. What would you do?.

 

I had a similar situation about a year ago. A women came in complaining of a check engine light. We pulled a code for a coolant temp problem and found that the coolant was a low. We pressure tested the cooling system and found nothing. After running the car for the day, we found nothing. The fans came on and the temperature held steady. We decided to clear the code, give the car back to her and get her back in a few days to recheck the coolant level.

 

Three days later, the women called and said that the check engine light came back. The service advisor who took the call asked her if the temp gauge was high and also asked if the car appeared to be running ok. She said everything seemed ok and the gauge was right in the middle. He told her to please bring it back to us as soon as possible. She said she would bring in now.

 

What we did not realize was that she was in NYC, about an hour away. Another thing we did not realize was that there was an internal problem and the coolant was very low. By the time she got it back to us, the engine was cooked.

 

We sat down with her, the husband and the father and tried to explain, but they would not here any of it. We ended up replacing the engine at no charge. It killed me to do that. This had never happened before.

 

The good news is that the entire family still comes to us and have since then spent thousands of dollars with us.

 

My advice: Sit down with them in a private setting. Explain in detail all that had a happened and ask them if they have any suggestions on how to solve this. Don’t be too willing at first to give up the farm, BUT do whatever you must to protect your good name. Think long term, not short term.

 

I know how you feel, I really do.

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