: Had the limo aligned - ended poorly



turbojimmy
05-22-11, 06:38 PM
So, I went to this tire shop, that will remain unnamed for now, for an alignment on Friday. I've been taking cars there since I was a teenager (let's just say decades). The dad still runs the show, but in recent years the son has been more and more active in running the business.

I went in, and the dad recognized me immediately. We exchanged niceties and his son took the keys to the car. I saw the son drive away in it, presumably to see what he was dealing with in the way of an alignment.

The alignment took a long time. Figuring that this might be the case, I brought my work laptop with me (this is pertinent to the story).

I took a couple of calls outside the shop, but spent most of my time in the waiting room.

The son finally tells me the car is done, explained how far out the alignment had been, how had had corrected it and presented me with a bill. I paid it and left.

On the way home, I realized that I had left my work laptop and bag at the shop. I called the owner to see if it was still there. Yep - right where I left it. I told him that I'd be by in a few minutes to get it. I was about a mile from my house.

The limo was out of gas and my brother was to borrow it the next morning (Saturday) for a bachelor's party. Being the cheap SOB that I am, I didn't want to put gas in it. When I got home, I parked the limo and took the Trans Am back to the shop to retrieve my laptop since it had gas in it. I drove the Trans Am for the rest of the day.

Saturday morning (yesterday), I got up early to clean the limo up a bit. I vacuumed it out, did some minor interior detailing and then popped the hood to check the fluids. My bro was taking the car down to the Jersey Shore and I wanted to make sure everything was up to snuff.

As I walked around to the passenger side, which I hadn't needed to do until that point, I noticed 2 things:
- a huge dent on the top of the fender and the door frame
- a white streak down the rear window

They had tried to buff out the dents, both by hand and by machine. It was obvious. I then remembered that when I got in the car after the alignment that the right side mirror was pointed at the ground. I didn't think anything of it, figuring they needed to see the curb while backing up. I simply adjusted it back to normal and was on my way. But now it appears as if the mirror was hit too.

They either neglected to notice or decided not to do anything about the white streak down the right rear door window. Whatever they hit with the car was white. It rubbed off the rear door window, but had damaged the window frame where it meets the fixed portion of the glass.

The shop was closed yesterday (Saturday) so I get to present all this to the guy tomorrow (Monday). Since he allowed me to leave the shop with a damaged vehicle, I hold little hope that he'll own up to actually having done the damage. I've already called my attorney.

The car isn't perfect, but it left that shop in far worse shape than when it went in. You can't trust anybody with anything these days.

I'll post the results of my conversation with the owner tomorrow. Should be fascinating (for me anyway).

CadillacPimpinNOLA
05-22-11, 07:48 PM
at our bodyshop we take pictures when you drop the car off for ppl who try to claim we may have damaged their car to get something for free...accidents do happen though and whether we tell you or not if we damage it, we fix it properly no questions asked

turbojimmy
05-22-11, 07:53 PM
at our bodyshop we take pictures when you drop the car off for ppl who try to claim we may have damaged their car to get something for free...accidents do happen though and whether we tell you or not if we damage it, we fix it properly no questions asked

I never thought I'd have to do it, but I'll be taking pictures in the future. I carry an 8MP digital camera with me everywhere I go (in the way of a cell phone), so it's easy. This is gonna be a he-said-he-said thing....

outsider
05-22-11, 08:16 PM
that sucks man...I've had similar happen to me but not nearly as bad. Guy must have had a wrench in his pocket or something and out a good scrape in my fender probably while looking under the hood. I didn't complain or anything because it wasn't as bad as yours and as you said...It would be nearly impossible to prove.

I did find a new garage, though. :)

turbojimmy
05-22-11, 08:31 PM
that sucks man...I've had similar happen to me but not nearly as bad. Guy must have had a wrench in his pocket or something and out a good scrape in my fender probably while looking under the hood. I didn't complain or anything because it wasn't as bad as yours and as you said...It would be nearly impossible to prove.

I did find a new garage, though. :)

Well I'm hoping I don't have to fight it, but I'm fully prepared and armed to do it if I have to.

Below are before and after pics:

http://turbojimmy.4t.com/limo_no_damage.jpg

http://turbojimmy.4t.com/limo_damage-1.jpg

http://turbojimmy.4t.com/limo_damage-2.jpg

jcolliga40
05-22-11, 08:33 PM
Good luck with that man. I hope it works out in your favor best bet would be to talk to the father seeing as you know him best.

csbuckn
05-22-11, 08:53 PM
Id try to go around where he test drove it to look for anything that could have caused it and anybody that may have saw something.

outsider
05-22-11, 09:11 PM
my guess would be he caught it going into or coming out of the garage.

turbojimmy
05-22-11, 09:43 PM
my guess would be he caught it going into or coming out of the garage.

Yep. Either that or on the test drive. I hadn't thought of that 'til csbuckn suggested it. I assumed he hit something going into the garage.

sven914
05-22-11, 09:57 PM
That's an odd angle if he hit something... If he drove into something in the shop, you would think there would be more damage to the side of the fender. It looks more like something was dropped on it, or maybe the car was lifted into something.

turbojimmy
05-23-11, 08:31 AM
That's an odd angle if he hit something... If he drove into something in the shop, you would think there would be more damage to the side of the fender. It looks more like something was dropped on it, or maybe the car was lifted into something.

I know. I can't figure it out. The scrape along the back window was definitely like he turned too tight and hit a mailbox or something. The front one is perplexing. Maybe two incidents within the span of 2 hours? I guess it's possible. Idiots.

turbojimmy
05-23-11, 11:09 AM
Well, I'm shocked to report that the kid owned up to it - sort of.

I confronted the dad first. I told him it looks like it was lifted into something. He said that was impossible and showed me the lift. I told him to forget I said that, it's just a theory and I'm not a detective. Bottom line that the car was damaged at some point during the 2 hours he had it.

He went to talk to the son.

The son said yeah, he hit a bird with it. A bird. I couldn't help myself and asked if it was a Pterodactyl. He insisted that it was a bird and that the impact scared the hell out of him. Mmmmmm....okay.

Dad and I walked back to the counter. I told him that while I'm not really questioning the kid's story, it had to be like a 500 lb. bird. Plus there was paint on the back window and that while it may have been a separate incident, he hit something with the back of it as well. He wouldn't throw his son under the bus, understandably, but did say how he was embarrassed and that his son had broken "the golden rule" by not telling anyone about it.

He gave me the card of a local body shop that he deals with for an estimate.

Stay tuned.

csbuckn
05-23-11, 11:29 AM
Better results than I was expecting. He said bird because he doesnt want to tell his dad what else he hit.

outsider
05-23-11, 11:57 AM
step one...get them to admit there WAS an accident...

Looks like you're ganna be taken care of. Obviously no bird could have done that to the car but maybe he got freaked out by the bird and crashed into something else without noticing...in which case he shouldn't be test driving the cars.

CADforce69
05-23-11, 12:39 PM
Im glad that it ended up more or less honestly. I had an experience with a mechanic getting my '73 dodge out of the shop. He scratched the rear passenger door with a wooden box at the shop door. It was a fine and clean scratch. A witness saw it (I was on the other side). The scratch was not there before obviously but he denied everything... As not many shops work with these old cars, I did not stopped taking my car there but some resentment was unavoidable. This and other incidents made me try other repair solutions for some time.

turbojimmy
05-23-11, 12:55 PM
Im glad that it ended up more or less honestly. I had an experience with a mechanic getting my '73 dodge out of the shop. He scratched the rear passenger door with a wooden box at the shop door. It was a fine and clean scratch. A witness saw it (I was on the other side). The scratch was not there before obviously but he denied everything... As not many shops work with these old cars, I did not stopped taking my car there but some resentment was unavoidable. This and other incidents made me try other repair solutions for some time.

I very rarely take my car to "professionals". Generally only for tires and alignments. I do everything else myself. When I do need to leave it in someone else's care, I hover as close as they'll let me. It sounds psychotic, but that's what I do. I know it's not a Lamborghini or anything, but it's mine and I do my best to keep it looking good.

Anyhow, the kid even admitted to "the bird" hitting the mirror, too. I told them that I noticed that as well, but was more concerned with the sheet metal damage.

brougham
05-23-11, 01:33 PM
Ive seen some decent sized birds do damage like what's at the door, and that's a strange dent to explain. Looks more like hail damage or someone beating on it with their hand. Glad you got some truth out of them.

sven914
05-23-11, 03:20 PM
I very rarely take my car to "professionals". Generally only for tires and alignments. I do everything else myself. When I do need to leave it in someone else's care, I hover as close as they'll let me. It sounds psychotic, but that's what I do. I know it's not a Lamborghini or anything, but it's mine and I do my best to keep it looking good.


I stand outside the service bay and stare at the tech. They can't be trusted; everything you tell them not to do, the do. And I can't tell you how many times that I've had to tell them to stop looking through the trunk for the air-ride shutoff.

outsider
05-23-11, 03:24 PM
I'm glad I found a garage I can trust out here. The owner works on my cars himself usually and he's a good guy. Never a complaint or problem with anything he's done and he always takes good care of me on the prices.

CADforce69
05-23-11, 04:04 PM
I very rarely take my car to "professionals". Generally only for tires and alignments. I do everything else myself. When I do need to leave it in someone else's care, I hover as close as they'll let me. It sounds psychotic, but that's what I do. I know it's not a Lamborghini or anything, but it's mine and I do my best to keep it looking good.

Anyhow, the kid even admitted to "the bird" hitting the mirror, too. I told them that I noticed that as well, but was more concerned with the sheet metal damage.

I hope that you get it fixed at the shop expense. I feel the same: Many times I feel a psychotic but just when I relax... something happens. I have to say that I found another mechanic for my caddy, who knows very well these cars, works very fast even when he find the many troubles these cars have inside and the bills are half than the other shop... (In addition, the caddy wont fit in the first shop :lol:) Ill take him my Dodge as well. The only problem is that he has a lot of work.

cadillac_al
05-23-11, 07:19 PM
I'm surprised they owned up to it too. It sounds like they are pretty stand up people and probably not a bad shop to do business with in the future. You might want to let them know that; their honesty may very well lead to future business and possible referrals so they shouldn't feel too bad about the repair.

albymangled
05-23-11, 08:26 PM
I stand outside the service bay and stare at the tech. They can't be trusted; everything you tell them not to do, the do. And I can't tell you how many times that I've had to tell them to stop looking through the trunk for the air-ride shutoff.

I can understand your concerns for the vehicle Sven but really I think your time would be better spent finding a mechanic shop that you TRUST....

Our cars are very important to us....finding someone you trust to work on them is like finding a lawyer or doctor you feel comfortable with ....a MUST....

@ cadillac_al

+1 mate....

it is important to let those doing a good job know it and let them know you recommend them to friends....

I take the time to visit the shops I recommend with my friends the first time to make sure that the friend gets looked after and of course to tally up a little goodwill for myself in bringing new business for the shop....

@turbojimmy

good luck with it all mate....it sounds like you were dealing with the right kind of people in the first place.

sven914
05-23-11, 09:50 PM
I can understand your concerns for the vehicle Sven but really I think your time would be better spent finding a mechanic shop that you TRUST....

Our cars are very important to us....finding someone you trust to work on them is like finding a lawyer or doctor you feel comfortable with ....a MUST....

Well Bruce, I naturally distrust everyone. It's not really my problem that they waste 20 minutes trying to find something that doesn't exist; the bossman is throwing money at that problem for me. I'm more concerned about the little mistakes that even the best shop will make.

cadillac kevin
05-24-11, 01:06 AM
my family has used the same mechanic shop and body shop for the past 20 years. never really had a problem with them (except one lady who works the counter at the mechanics place makes up her own prices.- and then I just ask for anyone but her to give me a price.) the only issue I personally have had with them was the managers son dirtied my interior (set his greasy hand on the door) I didnt really care (since my interior was never spotless) but I let them know anyways. they took a bit off my bill. Although when my dad had his '91 fwd cutlass wagon, the mechanics son took his wagon out on a test drive and blew the motor. it had had a bad injector and a slight tick, so he soaked down the engine to attempt to find a vaccum leak or something (dumped a bucket of water on it), then romped on it down the street. I was sitting shotgun with him and he had that thing WOT. then he did several very hard starts on it (didnt want to start since electronics were wet). I told him its not starting right- but he shrugged it off and romped on it again to take it back. the next day, it developed a rod knock. my dad was livid (the engine was going out, but it still had several thousand miles left in it, and instead of him being able to save up for a new one, he had to deal with it right now.) the mechanic denied that his son had blown the motor and that it was preexisting. after my dad yelled at him and I told him what all his sons "road test" consisted of, he offered to buy a new motor and install it for my dad doing some maintenance work on his house. needless to say, our family refuses to let his son touch any one of our cars.

MoistCabbage
05-24-11, 01:31 AM
I couldn't help myself and asked if it was a Pterodactyl.
:histeric:

turbojimmy
05-24-11, 12:03 PM
Well, I went to the body shop that they guy sent me to. The place seemed pretty shady, the owner wasn't really personable.

He said $200 for the damage. That worries me a little because that means he's just going to pull it and fill it, but I guess that's the best I can expect. My roommate (who is in the body shop biz) says that door really shouldn't be repaired. He'll fill it and it will come back out over time.

I inquired about some of the other imperfections on the car: peeling clear atop one of the doors, a dent in the same, damaged fender etc. He's going to work with me on that stuff. I figure since it will be in the shop I might as well take care of most of the other paint/body defects.

Next step: Call the tire shop with the estimate.

@sven914: It's funny because I'm always telling them to stop rooting through my trunk, too. It's not a stinkin lincoln.

sven914
05-24-11, 12:25 PM
@sven914: It's funny because I'm always telling them to stop rooting through my trunk, too. It's not a stinkin lincoln.

What's funny is that when I take my grandma's Lincoln for service, I have to tell them to turn off the suspension; 5 times the tech has lifted it and I had to run out there and tell him to put it back on the ground:nono:.

MoistCabbage
05-24-11, 03:27 PM
$200 to repair that damage is WAY too low. You'll end up with an ugly repair that wont last. The shop that damaged your car is 100% responsible, they've already admitted to the damage (regardless of how they said it happened, it was still an admission of guilt). You have the right to have the car worked on at any body shop you want, and the shop will have to pay whatever price they charge. Doesn't this shop have insurance? Even if they don't and have to pay out of pocket, too bad. They already spit in your face by damaging it and not telling you, Don't take your car to an inadequate body shop just to save them a buck.

outsider
05-24-11, 03:52 PM
^ Exactly what he said...Why should you have to compromise your car's value and appearance just because this guy's son doesn't know how to treat a customer's car?

turbojimmy
05-24-11, 05:39 PM
$200 to repair that damage is WAY too low. You'll end up with an ugly repair that wont last.

Yep. My roommate (who runs a body shop) says that's a $750-$1,000 repair to do it right. If I go anywhere else, it will be to his shop. They do good work, but I wanted to give this other guy's preferred shop a shot. I'm going to get a couple of other estimates to see what happens.

turbojimmy
05-24-11, 05:57 PM
Update:

"Junior" just called. His dad made him come clean. He opened with "it wasn't a Pterodactyl", which made me chuckle. He said was "rocking the car back and forth" to see if there was anything loose in the steering and he "clipped a mailbox". He said he panicked and made up the bird story. He said his dad "rode him" until he gave up the real story.

I'm not making excuses for the guy, but the limo is tough to drive if you're not used to it. It's 4 feet longer than a "normal" Fleetwood with the stock steering. That means the turning radius SUCKS. You can really get yourself in a bind, or hit stuff, if you're not careful.

Anyway, I told him and his dad that I appreciate them coming clean on it and that a lot of people wouldn't have. They said that they'll take care of "any damages".

I'm gonna shop around a bit. I'm not the type of person to take advantage of the situation, but I do want it repaired correctly.

jayoldschool
05-24-11, 06:06 PM
The dad is smart. He just made a customer for life, and bought more advertising than he could afford.

brougham
05-24-11, 07:11 PM
Yep. My roommate (who runs a body shop) says that's a $750-$1,000 repair to do it right. If I go anywhere else, it will be to his shop. They do good work, but I wanted to give this other guy's preferred shop a shot. I'm going to get a couple of other estimates to see what happens.

$200 seems low but who knows they could owe the first shop a favor. The dent in the fender should be easy to deal with, the one on the door is probably tougher. If it's just those 2 spots they looked at realistically it should be about $750 tops.

csbuckn
05-24-11, 07:34 PM
Does that thing have the variable steering box or is it a fixed ratio? I couldn't imagine that thing with 17/15 steering ratio.

outsider
05-24-11, 07:35 PM
good thing the kid came clean :D

Now you can have it fixed right

turbojimmy
05-24-11, 10:02 PM
Does that thing have the variable steering box or is it a fixed ratio? I couldn't imagine that thing with 17/15 steering ratio.

I dunno. I assumed it was the standard Fleetwood box, but I never checked it in the manual. I know the linkage is beefier (tie rod ends, center link, etc.)

SDCaddyLacky
05-24-11, 10:21 PM
That's great the shop will be taking care of the damages, at least they didn't beat around the bush and gave YOU a hard time like most shops tend to do.


I am very cautious and selective when I take my car in for service. Anytime a mechanic wants to take my Caddy for trip around the block to check for problems, I always hop in the car with him. A lot of people have a hard time being able to drive and determine the space they have when driving our Fleetwoods and Bro's. Shit, I still have a difficult time parallel parking my Cad, and I drive it everyday lol. So I can imagine some random mechanic test driving our cars, it's challenging.

You got the Limo though, so I would be even more protective of your big baby.
Let us know how everything turns out.

cadillac_al
05-25-11, 09:06 AM
$200 seems low but who knows they could owe the first shop a favor. The dent in the fender should be easy to deal with, the one on the door is probably tougher. If it's just those 2 spots they looked at realistically it should be about $750 tops.

That's kinda the way I see it too. $200 sounds pretty low but he may be doing a favor for the mechanic. It is black and sometimes it can be easier to match/blend/fix a black car. If the guy isn't personable that could be a problem. Some people just come off that way on first impression but are really alright to work with. I hope he seems more personable the next time you have to talk to him. Maybe you could ask around about his work. A good body shop will have that all fixed and sprayed before lunch anyway.

turbojimmy
05-25-11, 10:41 AM
That's kinda the way I see it too. $200 sounds pretty low but he may be doing a favor for the mechanic. It is black and sometimes it can be easier to match/blend/fix a black car. If the guy isn't personable that could be a problem. Some people just come off that way on first impression but are really alright to work with. I hope he seems more personable the next time you have to talk to him. Maybe you could ask around about his work. A good body shop will have that all fixed and sprayed before lunch anyway.

The place just seemed shady. My gut is usually right...I'm getting 2 more estimates from local shops including my roommate's. The guy estimated 2 hours repair time and 2 hours paint time, which sounds right but doesn't jive with $200 when you figure time and materials.

The-Dullahan
05-26-11, 01:04 AM
One time I took my Hearse to a "Tuffy" auto centre...one time.

$500 body work and to THIS VERY DAY, my air conditioning does not work. It worked great when I dropped it off, but when I picked it up, the...I suppose manager...Told me that he couldn't get it to turn on...He was replacing the exhaust, so this peaked my curiosity as to why he would need A/C. He told me he used it while driving other customers, coworkers and himself around in it...

MoistCabbage
05-27-11, 01:37 PM
Those time estimates sound about right. Body work: Sand down to bare metal, pull the dents with a stud gun (doesn't require making holes in the panel like an "old school" dent puller), grind the studs down, mix and apply filler, block the filler, mix and apply finishing putty to fill pinholes, block finishing putty. Paint work: Remove surrounding trim, mask (the most time consuming part of the painting process) everything except door and fender scuff old paint, apply primer, apply color coat, apply clear coat, wet sand and buff if/where necessary, reinstall trim. (paint will take up a good portion of a day, but you don't get charged for drying time)

The original $200 estimate sounds like all they we're going to do was fill the dents with Bondo (no metal work), tape everything off, and spray single stage paint.

turbojimmy
05-27-11, 01:59 PM
Got two estimates from independent shops: $650 and $750. The $650 is my roommate's shop and they'll take care of a couple other things while they have the paint gun out.

The $750 was a completely random shop I popped into on my way home the other day.

I'm going to pull the trigger next week and get it in for repairs.

Cadillacboy
05-28-11, 11:22 AM
Sorry for the late reply , I have just spotted on your thread , good thing is by the time I submit my reply things seem to get on your way . Well done to father and his son should learn his lesson . What I don't see is that why your limo came with the stock steering wheel , normally I am pleased with the turning ratio of the Fleetwood but limo should be a different story

turbojimmy
06-02-11, 10:17 PM
Car goes in the body shop on Monday. Gonna have a dent taken out of the fender and have the clear re-done on one of the doors. It will still have its share of body defects, but it will also take care of the most obvious of them.

turbojimmy
06-10-11, 03:14 PM
Got the car back today. I took it to the $200 guy. The tire shop assured me that he does good work, and he does. He said it would be done Wednesday, then yesterday, then this morning. I think he got behind and rushed the cleaning and buffing of it. He was putting the pinstripe on it when I got there. As a result, there are buffer marks that I need to polish out and/or fill with swirl mark filler. Not a big deal, but it's more work for me. The repair itself is fine. No evidence of the dent at all. For an additional $200, he took care of a big divot I had in the fender on the wheel arch and peeling clear coat on the top of the RH middle door. Taking care of those things makes the car look a lot better. One day I might do a full restoration on the body, but in the near term it looks good enough.

So that chapter is closed. Now on to wheels and exhaust.....

outsider
06-10-11, 03:25 PM
awesome! good for you Jimmy! Pics please :)