Car Trouble

Way back in January, we had a snowstorm here in Columbus. It wasn't bad by any means…just enough to be annoying. When I pulled into the parking lot at work, I went to turn into my normal parking lane. I wasn't going more than 5-10 mph, but the car–a 2000 Mazda Protege–slid into a curb. Well, I went ahead and drove, parked, and went into work. Later on that afternoon, I went to lunch, and noticed the steering was all messed up. I thought the alignment was just out of whack, so I called the Sears at Tuttle Mall.

So, I took the car to them. They ended up and told me that I had bent the lower control arm. They took me back and showed me the part. Sure enough, it was bent. I had them order the part and replace it. No big deal so far. I picked the car up, and the next day on the way to work, I noticed the car was making two strange noises. The first was a real slow wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet noise at about 50 mph. The second was a creaking noise like something was loose (in fact, it sounded like a bushing was left out). So, I took the car back to Sears the next week, I believe.

I explained the situation to the guy, and he said they would take a look at it. What he came back with floored me. They said the control arm was installed correctly, but the motor mounts were messed up…one was broke, and that they all needed replaced. They even had a transmission mount on there too. Total cost for that repair would be $800+! I asked if the car was safe to drive (Yes they said). I left with their estimate and called my insurance company since it was an accident (who ever would have thought a 5-10 mph collision would cause so much damage!). They wanted me to fax them the estimate from Sears.

Well, I faxed them the estimates, and the adjuster had serious problems with the estimate. He said that some of the part prices were incorrect, and he didn't think that all of the stuff on the estimate needed replaced. He recommended another shop in town for me to use (Auto Body Collision and Glass). I took them the car, the estimate, and had them fix the motor mounts. They agreed with the adjuster that all of the work on the Sears estimate didn't need done, and they fixed one broken motor mount.

I pick the car up and drive off. Well, the slow wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet noise was still there as well as the loose noise. I called them back and arranged a time to go for a drive with a tech. We did that and right away, he identified the slow wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet noise as a bad wheel bearing. We didn't really hear the other noise at that time (it gets "better" when it is colder and wet outside, and it was both that day). We ordered a wheel bearing and hub, and he said he would look into the other problem.

The wheel bearing was replaced and the slow wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet–wahh–quiet noise went away. The tech mentioned he didn't see anything that would cause the loose noise, but that it could be the strut. The loose noise was still there. Immediately prior to the accident, I had noticed the sway bar link on that side was going bad (the driver's side had gone bad prior to this and it made a clunky loose noise too). I thought the sway bar link was unrelated to the accident, so I tool the car to the local Mazda dealer and had him replace it.

I didn't mention the other noise to them, but it was real bad when I took it to them (you could hear it as the clutch was let out as well as when you went over bumps in the road). They replaced the sway bar link and…yes, you guessed it…the loose noise was still there.

I called Auto Body Collision and Glass back and took them the car Thursday 31 March. I went out with Joe for a ride so he could hear the noise. We didn't even get out of the parking lot and he had heard enough. He said they would look into it.

Well, Joe calls me back this morning saying that the tech. looked at my car and found that the bolts for the control arm had been installed improperly (the front was in the back and the back was in the front). The bolts were different sizes, etc… so that was causing the control arm to move slightly. That movement was causing the loose noise. Now, we are getting somewhere!

I went to Sears this morning to talk to them. I spoke with a man named Tim. I explained the situation to him. He said that he would need to talk to his manager about it, but they needed to take a look at the car. I explained that Auto Body recommended I not drive the car, so he took some information down and said he would call them. I called Joe back and explained the situation to him (remember, I'm going out of town this weekend). He wasn't thrilled and didn't want to get into an argument with Sears about this whole thing. I told him that I didn't want that either and that if something like that were to happen, he should let me know.

So, what do I expect now? I expect Sears to arrange a time to see the car at the Auto Body shop. Then tow it back to Sears and fix the problem…correctly.

So, thanks for the hard work Auto Body Collision and Glass! You guys have gone above and beyond on this one. Sears, you have an opportunity to do the right thing, and I hope you do!

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