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Expectations Out Of Alignment With Results

, , , , , , | Working | August 5, 2020

Last year, I had a mild concern about some creaking from the back end of my car. I went to the dealership, and they said they’d look at my suspension, but my tires had wear that was a sign of poor alignment and I agreed to let them align them.

The report came back reporting that all four tires were vastly out of camber, which they felt would explain any creaking noises. The service associate said this was beyond their ability to deal with and recommended that I talk to my insurance company and take it to a body shop, because that kind of camber misalignment probably means a bent frame on my one-year-old car that’s never had a wreck or any incident worse than low-speed tire damage.

Later in the process, I realized that they believed I’d had a wreck and wasn’t telling them about it, trying to scam them into taking the blame for frame damage. This is absurd; a wreck bad enough to bend the frame would cause massive body-panel damage or crack a wheel, but why let that get in the way of avoiding responsibility?

What I should have done is immediately take it to an unaffiliated shop to get the alignment checked and make sure it was as bad as they said. Silly me, I believed the dealership and called my insurance, which started six months of arguments over whose problem it was to repair the problem while I drove around in a car with serious alignment problems. The body shop didn’t want to touch it with no visible damage; the insurance company agreed and — after a lot of dead air from their side — said they weren’t going to cover something that didn’t come from a wreck I had, and it was the dealer’s problem to fix.

And so, I end up back at the dealership, insisting that they either fix the problem or make it right. They agree to look at it and figure out what it is going to take, and we’ll talk more at that point. Eight hours later, I am getting a little antsy to either get my car back or get a rental so I can go to work the next day.

Me: “Hey, it’s [My Name]; I’m just calling to find out what’s going on with my car.”

Service Advisor: “Oh, we haven’t started on it yet. You’re next in line; we should have it in the garage in about forty-five minutes.”

Me: “You haven’t even started yet? Look, I have to go get a rental if I’m not going to get my car back today, and they close in an hour. When do you close?”

Service Advisor: “We’re open until 7:00 pm, but the mechanic goes home at 5:00.”

Me: “He goes home in thirty minutes?! How is he going to get my car in the garage in forty-five?”

Service Advisor: “Is it that late? Oh. Well… let me call you back in twenty minutes.”

I put on my coat and start walking towards the nearest car rental, which is about a half-hour walk. I barely get down the block when my phone rings again.

Service Advisor: “Hey, your car is ready for pickup. We put it on the alignment machine and it looks perfect.”

Me: *Pause* “What?”

Service Advisor: “Yep, no problems at all; it’s in the green on all four wheels.”

Me: “Do you have the alignment report from my last visit there on the computer?”

Service Advisor: “Er… yes.”

Me: “How can it go from red on all four tires to green on all four without any repairs?”

Service Advisor: “I don’t really know, but it’s fine, so you don’t need any repairs.”

Me: *Pause* “I’ll be there in twenty minutes to pick it up.”

Thankfully, they didn’t charge me, but I got in my car and went directly to an unaffiliated shop nearby that mostly does custom lift kits and such and had them check my alignment. The results were perfect on all four tires.

So, that’s six months of heartburn I didn’t need to have, and the only thing I can think is that they had some kid doing the alignment check the first time, and he screwed it up somehow!

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