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Merchant's Tire / Poor repair led to major breakdown

1 United States
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I brought my car in to Merchant Tire in Cary, NC with a pinhole leak in an upper coolant hose that was apparent due to some steam emanating from under the hood.

The mechanic who first worked on my car indicated it was just a small leak and the hose could be replaced. I will point out here that at no time did the car overheat, nor did the check engine light come on, nor did I lose significant coolant. This was the tiniest of leaks that had just started.

I asked if any other hoses needed to be replaced while they were at it, and we agreed to replace the two large radiator hoses as they were showing signs of age, and summer is coming. I also had a family vacation planned in a couple of weeks and did not want any surprises.

They replaced the hoses and sent me on my way, telling me all was fixed, no problem.

Shortly thereafter, the car overheated. I brought it back, and they said it was low on coolant, that there must have been an air pocket. They also indicated that the overheating could have damaged the head gasket.

They topped off the coolant and sent me on my again, telling me all was fixed.

The next day the car overheated AGAIN. I brought it back, and this time they found a small leak in a hose and said that was why the coolant was low. They replaced the hose and sent me on my way, telling me all was fixed.

That evening, the check engine light came on, and the car started smoking from the tailpipe. I brought the car back the following morning, and they curtly told me the head gasket was blown and it was not their fault.

I repeatedly contacted their excuse for customer service, each time requesting escalation beyond the local store level, and each time I received a robotic, scripted response that someone would contact me, but no one ever did.

The store maintained that they were not at fault, and when I told them that was not acceptable, they brought in a supposed third-party insurance adjuster to make a determination. The store manager had the nerve to tell me that the insurance adjuster would tell me the same thing. What a surprise, that's exactly what happened.

The adjuster told me that regardless of their recommendation, Merchant would do what they felt; Merchant told me they listen to the adjuster. One of them is lying.

It turns out the store manager also lied about my refusing to have any diagnostics done on the car. He wasn't even there the day of the initial repair.

When I finally tracked down the president of the company's number and called him at home, I seemed to strike a nerve. He told me to call him the following morning. When I did, I was only able to talk to his assistant, who echoed what everyone else has been saying for weeks, and they still refuse to admit any culpability or take any responsibility for the damage due to the overheating after they repeatedly sent me off with the car after indicating it was fixed, only to have it overheat repeatedly.

I should also point out that when I first brought it in, they wrote it up as "customer brought in car smoking, " when it was actually some steam from under the hood, not smoke; after the multiple overheats, the car did end up smoking from the tail pipe.

There was never any indication by the staff or mechanics that there was an overheating problem, a check-engine condition, or smoke from the tailpipe when I first brought the car in, nor for the subsequent two follow-up visits. The problem started on my 4th and final visit.

The vehicle is still in their lot, and they refuse to take responsibility for it.

I expect Merchant Tire to repair the vehicle at their expense.


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