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bulltrout

Charges for test drive damage

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I'm dealing with family issues in California and on my drive from out of state the pinion seal on my 2013 F150 started leaking. When I arrived I had it repaired at the Ford dealer in town. After the repair I got a call from service saying that when the tech returned from the test drive (to make sure the rear end wasn't making noise indicating bearing problems in the dif I believe) there was coolant all over the front of the engine and they asked me for authorization to diagnose the leak (a $130 charge if I declined the service). Skeptical, I declined to authorize the service. The next day the service manager called to explain the car could not be released as there was a hole in the radiator that made the car undriveable.

The service manager said that on a test drive a rock must have been thrown up into the fan, kicking it into the radiator. The rock put the hole in the radiator and also damaged the fan. He claimed the rock must have been resting on the frame as they found other gravel on the frame. He quoted me a price of $630 for parts and service to replace the radiator (but not the fan). I did not authorize the work and since have been dealing with the family stuff, and wondering how to proceed.

I was surprised to be asked to pay for the repair, and am dubious about the explanation. I just drove 1,200 miles to get here without any frame-resting rocks flying into the fan.

Have any of you ever experienced something like this from dealer service? Is it normal for dealers to charge full price for repairs that occurred while the vehicle is being test driven?

Thanks.

 

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They are driving your car they are responsible, just as if you got in an accident in their rental you would be. 

I'd talk to the dealership owner, on the showroom floor. Start nice, but be firm that they are fixing it and you're not paying for it they are. If that doesn't work a local TV station/Newspaper/Autoblog article as well as reach out to Ford thought they won't be able to help much. If that still doesn't work you're going to be in a lawsuit, remember if you go there you'll need a lawyer and also be sure to include your time and their costs in the lawsuit damages.

 

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Demand they hand over the keys. If they won't give them to you, threaten to call the police.  Leave with the truck, stop at the nearest gas station to fill the radiator, and then hobble it to the nearest parts store. A radiator should be less than $200 and be in stock. Eat the cost and install it in their parking lot. It's an easy job. Save all your receipts and document as much of this as possible and then when you get home have your lawyer send them a bill for the parts and your time with the threat of a lawsuit if they don't pay up.

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I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before, and I’ve even had repair guys fix stuff without charge when it was obviously my fault. I’m really disappointed to be treated this way at a Ford Dealership. 

This doesn’t seem to be SOP, charging for repairs during the time the repair shop has the vehicle. My nephew works at the nearby Toyota shop and he said they’d of course repair it with no charge.

i think I might do the radiator thing, but pick it up ahead of time and just drive out and park in front of the showroom and replace it, with a sign on my truck explaining this is how this Dealership treats its customers.

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You can order one from Radiators.com  Cost is about $200. with a limited lifetime warranty.  But who's lifetime, your or the trucks?   LOL

I've ordered from them before for both a 93 Explorer I had, and a 86 Lincoln Mark VII I still own.  Very please with the quality of the parts. 

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You shouldn’t pay for it. I would tell them that you didn’t drop off your truck in that condition and Expect to get it back in the same condition. I would talk to the service manager. If no success, talk to the owner. 

Edited by fordtech1

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21 minutes ago, twintornados said:

It is in their care, they are responsible....

This. 

You might need to put up a bit of a fight, but this isn't a gray area. They are responsible. 

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They can't prove any prior issue and they can't prove that "rocks already existed on the frame".  This open and shut.  Call them out, if they put up a fight, move up the food chain.

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I am not a lawyer nor attempt to give legal advice.  But typically in these types of cases, one has to be negligent to be found guilty (the dealer).  If a rock came off another vehicle in front, the dealer was not negligent.  I'm not sure if the dealer is responsible for this type of damage (maybe their insurance company) as they were doing what they should have been doing, test driving before returning to the customer.  This is not like they rear ended someone and caused an accident.

This also reminds me of when my Explorer got a dent in the passenger door.  They called me up and asked if there were any previous dents.. I said no.  They told me that there was a small one now and they are getting a PDR over today to pull it out.  Apparently what happened was the back lot was so full that they left it in their front lot where customers park when shopping for cars.  Someone there dented my door when they opened their car door.  In this instance, the dealer was certainly negligent by not securing the vehicle and protecting it.

That's my 2 cents..  YMMV

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2 hours ago, blwnsmoke said:

I am not a lawyer nor attempt to give legal advice.  But typically in these types of cases, one has to be negligent to be found guilty (the dealer).  If a rock came off another vehicle in front, the dealer was not negligent.  I'm not sure if the dealer is responsible for this type of damage (maybe their insurance company) as they were doing what they should have been doing, test driving before returning to the customer.  This is not like they rear ended someone and caused an accident.

This also reminds me of when my Explorer got a dent in the passenger door.  They called me up and asked if there were any previous dents.. I said no.  They told me that there was a small one now and they are getting a PDR over today to pull it out.  Apparently what happened was the back lot was so full that they left it in their front lot where customers park when shopping for cars.  Someone there dented my door when they opened their car door.  In this instance, the dealer was certainly negligent by not securing the vehicle and protecting it.

That's my 2 cents..  YMMV

This is a bailment situation when the dealer takes ownership of the vehicle and they assume liability while the vehicle is in their possession.  I don't think they have to be proven negligent in this case because it's a business relationship as opposed to someone just borrowing your car.

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This Stealer is probably banking on the fact that the vehicle owner is 1200 miles from home, needs his vehicle to get home, and isn't going to spend the $$$ traveling back and forth to fight us in court. So, let's bend him over and take his money.

By now, this dealerships name should have been posted, so the social-media side of the world can get involved.

HRG

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30 minutes ago, HotRunrGuy said:

This Stealer is probably banking on the fact that the vehicle owner is 1200 miles from home, needs his vehicle to get home, and isn't going to spend the $$$ traveling back and forth to fight us in court. So, let's bend him over and take his money.

By now, this dealerships name should have been posted, so the social-media side of the world can get involved.

HRG

This^^^^^^^^^. They know they will never see you again and are trying to screw you on there mistake.

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I appreciate the feedback. I haven't pushed back yet because I am here dealing with some serious health issues with my mother. Fortunately for both that situation and this, I am an educator off for the summer and this is my hometown so I am staying with family and have a vehicle to use while this is resolved. My mother's situation is going to keep me here for a few weeks anyway. I intend to contact the dealer later today to try to get this resolved, but before doing so I wanted to gather some intel. 

One of the unfortunate aspects of this is that I am a lifelong Ford guy and I mistakenly assumed that I could trust a dealer to be a straight shooter. If I hadn't been on the road I likely would have done this work myself. I've never changed a pinion seal but it looks like a reasonable project. I also had them do some brake work I'd been putting off, and also likely would have done myself, but under the circumstances just wanted to get things fixed while I focused on my mother. I've actually used this dealer for service once before, for an oil change while I was visiting.

Btw, I've been a member here for a long time, but I almost never post. I have learned a ton just reading discussions here. This forum is bookmarked on my devices and I am here educating myself on a regular basis. I didn't immediately post the name of the dealer because I actually expected them to call me back and apologize and do the right, and ethical thing. There's no business where this kind of practice is acceptable. This is why a shop has insurance. A smart, ethical business person would say: We want customers to understand our first priority is to make things right. You think that's the way the world should work, but we are constantly reminded that not everyone operates honestly.

Once I've had time to deal with this I will follow up with info on the resolution. Thank you for your help. 

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8 minutes ago, bulltrout said:

I also had them do some brake work I'd been putting off,

Btw, that sounds bad. My front rotors were wobbling, but around town it was hardly noticeable. The Interstate road trip made clear I needed to get this taken care now, rather than wait any longer.

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"Cool, and out of state driver, lets see what we can get from them!"

After the truck was dropped off.

Edited by 630land

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Not sure how this played out but I come more from the dealer's perspective and disagree completely that they are trying to take advantage of you, bend you over, etc. By far, most dealer's are very good and ethical. Having owned a service shop for years, I can tell you shit happens. 

But the dealer should be more than willing to split the cost with you-no way should they be charging you full customer pay labor/parts. Push back and get with the Service Manager or GM. If you had them do brakes/rotors they already made some good profit there on that RO along with a pinion seal, they should be more than accomadating in this situation. 

Good luck with your Mom-hope things work out ok. 

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I met with the service director Friday. He was unfamiliar with my case and the people who I've been dealing with were already gone for the weekend. I'll hear back on Monday.

Idk what to make of this. The department manager did say that it does happen that rocks fly up into radiators, and I suppose that's possible, but I fish and hunt all the time and spend considerable time off road. Not rock crawling or anything, but dirt roads traveling to spots. I've never put a hole in a radiator, or had any other problems of this sort. It seems more likely the service tech left a tool in the engine compartment that caused the damage.

I remain surprised at how this turned out. With a significant service bill already, that they didn't just explain it and offer to fix, for free, or at a minimum for the cost of parts. Instead, they started with the full cost of the job, and I think a highly questionable theory that rocks on the frame flew up into the fan.

And there are those out-of-state plates on my truck, which lends credence to some of the unfavorable opinions offered above.

I'll report back after I hear from them on Monday.

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On 6/14/2019 at 11:47 AM, akirby said:

This is a bailment situation when the dealer takes ownership of the vehicle and they assume liability while the vehicle is in their possession.  I don't think they have to be proven negligent in this case because it's a business relationship as opposed to someone just borrowing your car.

Bulltrout, glad to hear your mom is improving.

I agree completely with Akirby's thought. I hope you stand firm as best you can with the dealer. 

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I'm trying to figure out the geometry of how the fan, which has its blades canted away from the radiator to draw air away from the radiator, and is shrouded, to boot, could've flung a rock into the radiator. That story just doesn't pass the smell test. 

Quite frankly, it sounds like a story made up by someone trying to cover his butt with someone who doesn't understand how engines work, and that someone buying it and trying to sell it to you.

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Forget the lawsuit..you will be out thousands more than repair cost...tow truck to another ford dealership not owned by the schister...use ford genuine parts unles your truck over 10 years..being 2013 model i would stick with ford parts....chinesse parts are just junk..only reason to go that route is if you are thinking of trade in within a year or 2...pay for repairs...never send another family member to that stealership....post on book of many faces to keep other people away...smile u did not spend thousands on a law suit that will take 2 years of your life....no way to ever prove rock went thru rad on your drive in for diff repair...your car can be released to you..that bs line it can not be released is stealership policy and not law...call local cops to arrive and keep the peace as it is towed off thre lot....enjoy your repaired truck

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7 hours ago, snooter said:

Forget the lawsuit..you will be out thousands more than repair cost.

Not in small claims court.

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14 hours ago, SoonerLS said:

I'm trying to figure out the geometry of how the fan, which has its blades canted away from the radiator to draw air away from the radiator, and is shrouded, to boot, could've flung a rock into the radiator. That story just doesn't pass the smell test. 

Quite frankly, it sounds like a story made up by someone trying to cover his butt with someone who doesn't understand how engines work, and that someone buying it and trying to sell it to you.

I agree. What are the odds that happening, as compared to the tech, who was just in the engine bay, leaving a wire brush behind? They just "cleaned" the battery terminals for me. I passed on the $30 charge for that.

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