Meineke — Botched the job, cost $7,000 to repair
$8, 000 timing belt replacement?! Read on..
Took my wife's Infinity QX4 in for a water pump (first mechanical failure *ever*) at the end of March 2008. They suggested replacing the timing belt and crank seal(s) at the same time. I agreed. 2, 000 miles later (July 5) my wife calls me from the other side of the neighborhood telling me there's an awful noise. I drive over and initially find one belt is off, but when I go to pull it off I find the lower pulley is flopping and loose. Worse yet the bolt holding it on was only finger tight. I was able to remove it without any tools and pulled the pulley off, drove the car 1 block home. When I looked at the pulley I found the key was sheered off inside the pulley keyway, half the key was in the crank and half was in the pulley, and the internal bore of the pulley had a visible taper.
I immediately called the shop and talked to Barry, the manager. He insisted that their work had nothing to do with it, "I'm a certified mechanic with 32 year experience and I know it would not have lasted 2, 000 miles". I asked him 'what do you think?', his reply was that he 'had customers in his shop and didn't have time to talk about it'.
I called 2 Nissan dealers and described the scenario, the first in Blue Springs stopped me in mid sentence to ask "have you had the timing belt replaced lately". When I told him 2, 000 miles ago, he said that if not reinstalled correctly the pulley will work loose, it could take a few thousand miles to happen, but he's seen it in his shop.
I had it towed to my local Nissan dealer (0.8 miles from the Meineke shop) and on Monday the 7th they called me to say the damage was more severe. In fact the crankshaft was damaged and the only cure was a replacement short block... $7, 000 installed. I asked if the recent timing belt replacement was the cause, they said 'there's nothing else to consider but that'.
Since smiley Barry (actually very belligerent) was denying any responsibility I called the corporate office. They were even more useless, but I really wasn't expecting a whole lot, the operator read from a script so I asked for a supervisor and she refused. I asked for a 'formal escallation of the call', she paused, put me on hold, and came back to say her supervisor would not take the call. In a last ditch effort to get something I asked for the contact info for the regional director in charge of Kansas City metro. That request was refused as well. While ending the call I told the operator "Please make this not in the file you send to the regional manager, I want them to call me on my cellphone, do you understand this instruction?" She replied "yes I do". It's 2+ weeks later, and of course no call.
I have since talked to smiling Barry again, he told me to have it towed over and he'd have a look at it. I told him the car is 8/10's of a mile away at McCarthy Nissan and he should go over and look at it. "I'm too busy to leave the shop and do that, I'll have it towed over here for you". I have not yet taken that offer, do I really want a belligerent shop manager to have access to my car without adult supervision? I'm not so sure I do. I certainly would not trust them to replace the engine, they can't even replace the pulley.
So, I paid Meineke $800 to replace the waterpump, timing belt and seals, and due to that job being botched I have another $7, 000 to shell out to fix the collateral damage. Small claims limit in Kansas is $4, 000 so that route is insufficient.
My advise today, don't let ANY Meineke do ANYTHING to your car.