Under The Hood: WTOL 11 Special Report from Jenna Lee - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Under The Hood: WTOL 11 Special Report

(Toledo News Now) -

A WTOL 11 hidden camera investigation found some Toledo area auto repair shops coming up short. Jenna Lee took a single vehicle, a 2005 Chevy Impala, to four different mechanics, and the results varied widely.

Based on an inspection done by an independant auto technician contracted by WTOL, some repair shops missed necessary repairs altogether, while others recommended unnecessary fixes.

Jenna Lee first visited Tireman, located on Central Avenue. The inspection lasted two hours.

Here are the items that made up the auto estimate:

    New front brake pads and rotors – 25% life left
    New rear brake pads and rotors – 30% life left

Total estimate: $309.99 per pair

However, our expert auto technician found the front brake pads had a 90% life left, while the rear brake pads had 10% life left; unsafe according to federal guidelines.

The second visit slowed to a stop at Midas on Glendale Avenue. The 45-minute inspection led to a long list of maintenance:

    Remove and replace rear tires – both appeared weathered $251.96
    Midas Road Hazard Warranty $16
    Replace exhaust hangers $35
    Conduct a diagnostic check on a malfunctioning temperature gauge $50

The manager also recommended a 3-step fuel cleaning service $79.99

Total estimate: $485.16

Monro Muffler Brake and Service was the focus for the third stop.

45 minutes later – here are the suggested upgrades and miscellaneous fees:

    Change out rear brake pads and rotors $341.87
    Remove and replace rear tires – severe treading issues $207.98
    Road hazard warranty $27.02
    Ohio tire tax $2.00
    Shop supply fee $34.15

Total estimate: 654.40

The final stop was on Secor Road at Belle Tire.

One hour and one suggestion – rear brake pads and rotors. The mechanic said 10% life remained, a different but accurate assessment compared to Tireman.

Total estimate: $265.97 + tax

So what was really wrong with the 2005 Chevy Impala? A contracted WTOL/WUPW expert auto technician thoroughly inspected and ultimately uncovered the following:

Joseph Koluch, Expert Auto Technicia: "Your temperature gauge doesn't work; the problem with that is you have no idea how warm your car really is."

He also pointed out the exhaust hangers. "They're rotted off and gone. They need to be replaced." And then he highlighted an oil and transmission fluid leak.

His biggest concern surrounded the rear tires. "Eventually it's going to swell up and blow out on you unexpectedly – this tire in my opinion is unsafe. It should be replaced and it's best to replace tires in pairs."

Finally, he recommended putting rear brake pads and rotors.
Jenna Lee called the auto shops to inquire about the *major* misses.

  • In response to missing the severely weathered rear tires, Tireman said, "We're happy to re-inspect the car. We will miss things from time to time. We greatly apologize, but are willing to re-inspect at your earliest convenience." Bob Huey, General Manager


  • In response to missing only 10% life was left on the rear brake pads/rotors, Midas said, "We didn't take the tires off, so we didn't notice. I'm sorry about that. We would be willing to fix it." Nicki Franks, General Manage


  • In response to missing the broken air temperature gauge, Monro said, "When we did scan the vehicle, the temperature gauge malfunction did not indicate that it was broken." Shawn Black, General Manager


  • In response to missing the severely weathered rear tires, Belle Tire said, "At Belle Tire our policy is to provide our customers with a Free Vehicle inspection.  That inspection currently includes windshields, dashboard warning lights, exterior lights, steering and suspension system, brake system and tires.  Additionally, when our customers are having their oil and filter changed we will also inspect fluid levels and the condition of the battery, belts and hoses. Our goal is to report on these areas to our customers so they may have confidence that no apparent problems exist.  We are disappointed by the experience that you received but are pleased that you brought it to our attention so that we may make necessary improvements. We always take customer comments seriously and strive each day to continuously improve upon our delivery of superior service and value. We are in the process of re-evaluating our inspection policy and training to ensure that we avoid similar issues in the future." Jeff Kruse, Senior Vice President

Thom Cafferty, a veteran lawyer in settling auto repair shop/consumer disputes says auto complaints are all too common. "Car mechanics are one of those places that unfortunately have a reputation."

The number one consumer complaint to the Ohio Attorney General's office last year surrounded motor vehicles and auto repairs – more than 5,299 complaints were received. Nationwide, the Better Business Bureau responded to 15,000 complaints made against auto repair services.

And sometimes, consumer complaints can lead to legal sanctions or civil violations against auto shops – courtesy of the Ohio Motor Vehicle Repair Act. Cafferty says, "When you're going to have your car worked on that you talk to the mechanic and make sure everyone's expectations are clear."

The law also says it's illegal to charge for repairs without a customer's consent, as well as mechanics to say that repairs have been completed when they really haven't. So how do you avoid a potential safety scare or rip off? Cafferty says to talk to your co workers, friends and relatives about getting work done on your car. He also advises to find out how much it's going to cost, and get a written contract to avoid future problems.

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