The Siren Song Of Walmart Tire & Lube Is Impossible To Resist

We’re not saying you shouldn’t shop at Walmart. We’re not telling you who to give your money to. That’s not what we do here, (although some people think it is, but whatever.) What we are saying is that you should think about to whom you entrust your property. If you have a bad experience, learn from it and don’t give them the opportunity to mess with your stuff again. Reasonable?

Reader Adam writes:

I drive an old crappy Geo Tracker to work (195K Miles!). I took it in to Wal-Mart because I had a flat tire. I get it back and the guy tells me that one of my lugs is stripped and that they only put 4/5 lug nuts back on. I told him I wanted it replaced and he said that it had not been done by Wal-Mart and that the lug was barely on to begin with! Hmmm…5 lug nuts going in to Wal-Mart, 4 going out, seems like their fault to me!! I did not make a big issue out of it because its my beater and I was not that concerned about it. Well not even a week later that same tire is flat!! I take it in to have them fix it again, and the guy tell me that because the manufacturer of the vehicle states there should be 5 lug nuts, and that I only have 4, that he could not take the tire off the car because it was a safety hazard!!! Umm..your the ones that F**ked it up to begin with!! I took it to Monroe Muffler Brake, they fixed it for free, been fine since.

You may think Adam’s learned his lesson and stopped taking his cars to Walmart. Nope. He keeps going back. It’s the siren song of Walmart Tire & Lube.

Adam continues:

On the 7th of March I took my 2004 Olds Alero in to get a rotate and balance at the Geneseo, NY Wal-Mart. Well I get it back and it is pulling something fierce to the right. I take it back in 2 days later on the 9th, tell them it is pulling, and they said they will rotate and balance the tires again back to their original positions and that this could make the pulling stop. Also that I might need an alignment, but screw that. It drove straight before I took it in, and should after I leave. I get it back, this time it pulls something fierce to the left. At this point, I didn’t trust them to even look at my car so my dad and I looked at it, and we switched the tires around until the car would drive semi-straight. Well, for some reason, only going like 15 MPH the car wiggles side to side a little bit now. My dad told me that I probably had a broken belt in one of the tires and to take it back to Monroe Muffler Brake because they were still under warranty.

I take it to Monroe, the Manager was very helpful and told me that he would look at all the tires, and give me a call before any work was done. I get the call and he tells me the tires are fine and I pull out my asshole voice and demand that he replace the tire(s). Half way through he told me that one of my biggest problems was that all the tires were WAY out of balance. I told him this was impossible because I just had them done a month ago right? Wrong. He told me there were 10 mechanics there that would all say those tires had not been balanced in far longer than a month. Feeling like a fool now, I went back to Wal-Mart, and told them I was extremely upset and that the tires should not be this much off balance if they were just done a month ago. If it was even done. So (this is the good part), he looks in the computer and shows the rotate and balance on the 7th, but there is no indication in the system as to what my rotate pattern was (front to back, front to back criss cross, back to front, criss-cross front to back). Hmmm..HOW THE HELL COULD THEY HAVE PUT MY TIRES BACK IN THE RIGHT SPOT ON THE 9TH IF THEY DIDN’T EVEN NOW WHAT THE ORIGINAL TIRE POSITIONS WERE? Oh yeah, and he tells me on the 9th (when I went in to have them rotated back) that they balanced the tires, but did not rotate them!!! WTF? Gee Buddy, thanks for screwing yourself right?

I talk to the STORE manager and he tells me he will put his “best guy” on it and rotate and balance the tires for free. I HAVE FREE LIFETIME ROTATE AND BALANCE, but thanks for taking the price from $0.00, to $0.00! I tell him this and he says that he will also throw in a $25.00 Wal-Mart gift card (which cost them 50 cents probably). So I get compensated…with something I HAVE to use in Wal-Mart. Gee, thanks pal. So, I had the tires rotated and balanced AGAIN, and this time it seemed to be right. Third times a charm I guess. Lesson learned, I’ll never take any vehicle back to that shit hole. Just some FYI or I thought you might post it to convince other readers not to take their cars to Crap-Mart.

Why did Adam go back? Why did he give them access to another, better car? That’s the question baffles us. Find a nice place (or several nice places, even if its a Walmart, find a nice Walmart.) to take your car for maintenance and keep going there. Learn people’s names. Say hello. Be friendly. Your car will thank you, and you’ll save money on gas (from driving back and forth for the same tire rotation) and Excedrin (for the migraine they’re giving you.)—MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: Pink Moose)

Comments

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  1. Rajio says:

    What did he use the gift card for? hopefully not more car work.

  2. joeblevins says:

    Well, I guess once he paid for lifetime balance and rotation, he feels like he has to get his worth out of it.

    Remember, just like the front line employees, any adults working at Wal-Mart were unable to cut it anywhere else in the business world.

    I stopped getting my oiled changed there years ago when it take them 3+ hours for an express service. They are worse than Sears ever was. At least the Sears guys could be motivated by commision. The Walmart thugs have no motivation what so ever. They are at the absolute bottom rung of the automotive service industry.

    No one leaves the Auto Tech school dreaming of a job at Wally world…

  3. Buran says:

    Why would anyone give money to a company that hires mechanics who steal your car?

  4. maddypilar says:

    Yeah, I agree with this:
    Find a nice place (or several nice places, even if its a Walmart, find a nice Walmart.)

    I used to live across the highway from a Walmart and they had a service center where I took my car for a new battery and new tires. They were lovely, I had no problems but if I had I would not have gone back. Don’t be a glutton for punishment.

  5. mopar_man says:

    So Monroe seems to be treating him well all the times that he went there to get the screw-ups fixed and he keeps going back to Wal-Mart? Monroe likely has certified people to work on his car as well. I think somebody needs to hit Adam upside the head with a tire iron. Actually, that goes for anybody who takes their car to Wal-Mart.

  6. Well that’s it. Next time I go to visit my parents, I am cajoling my Dad into taking apart my mother’s car and then showing me how to put it back together.

  7. Asvetic says:

    Adam sounds a few lug nuts short himself.

    fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me…

  8. medalian1 says:

    Can you send Adam one of those golden poo awards for being an idiot? Please!

  9. dragonflight says:

    @mopar_man: I noticed that too. I personally have had great experiences with my Car-X, so that’s where I’m taking my business from now on (even if its warranty covered!)

  10. mikeatnight says:

    I worked for Walmart many years ago as an assistant manager(hated the job and the way I was supposed to treat the associates but thats a whole other story) I would carry my truck in to get the oil changed but always specified that I wanted 1 of 2 guys doing because I didnt trust the other 4 or 5 morons in the service dept. The guys that I specified were ones that I knew and trusted and that they would do it right. When these guys worked on your car it was done right and they never had any customer complaints and their work never came back.

  11. terribleblog says:

    I was probably one of the first people to ever read your blog when it started whenever that was. It has gone from amusing and helpful to a magnet for little bitches that seem to have no foresight or basic knowledge of what they are bitching about. Your Walmart “lug” story is a perfect example of someone that doesn’t know shit yet still thinks they know enough to assign blame. And “Ben” seems to be the biggest bitch of all.

  12. Pixel says:

    Regarding the stripped lug nut. You strip a lug nut by cross-threading it. If you cross thread it and force it on it’ll stay, then the next time you remove it it won’t go back on properly due to the stripped threads. So it is entirely possible that the *last* time someone took the wheel off they stripped it when replacing it, and WalMart just got unlucky enough to be the next one to work on that wheel.

    Frankly Adam sounds like a bit of a doof for continuing to go back to WalMart after the first problems.

    Also he sounds like a bit of a jerk. Using his “asshole voice” on the guy at Monroe for instance. Why is he yelling at them? They haven’t screwed him or done him wrong.

    In fact I see another flaw. If the tires were bought at Monroe, then why does he have free lifetime rotate and balance at Walmart? Does walmart sell a package of free balance and rotation on other store’s tires? That seems like a really unlikely option.

    And furthermore, out of balance tires will not cause a car to pull. However having one tire low on air or worn in a particular pattern can mask a bad alignment. So if he went in and the car tracked straight. and when he left after having the tires rotated and it pulled, it is entirely reasonable that the frontend was out of alignment and getting the tires rotated unmasked the problem.

  13. jlrolin says:

    I used to work for Wal-mart TLE when I was in college. The policy states that if a vehicle arrives with less than the full amount of lugnuts on the vehicle, it should be declined. Stripped studs will be determined if unable to get off the vehicle if the technician obviously has trouble. At my store, we’d torque the lugnut back on, notify the customer about the problem, mark which lugnut that needs replaced, and it was the customer’s problem. Wal-mart is supposed to notify you of the problem, make you sign a disclaimer, explain that they cannot work on your vehicle until the problem is fixed.

    To be honest, the person that had the flat tire is lucky the technician told him about the problem. If you are being realistic that your car was a beater, the stud was probably rusted completely or the lugnut was stripped. Wal-mart has ridiculous policies on declining vehicles. What you should have done was have the studs looked at by a mechanic and replaced, $10-$15 a pop. The technician most likely did not notify him about how they would not work on the vehicle until this was fixed. However, sounds like they followed policy to the tee.

    Unfortunately for the second person with the Alero, incompetent employees skip basic procedures, mainly because Wal-mart management stomps on the employees about bay times, trust me, I know. Wal-mart does keep track of your rotation pattern as well, although.. some lazy greeters don’t bother putting in the correct pattern anyways. It all comes down to incompetence in that situation.

    Here’s a tip: If you actually complain enough, and cry and moan enough, you could have got a straight cash refund. They will give you whatever you want eventually.

  14. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Ok, This is Adam and let me clear some things up. My wife works there, we get 10% off everything, and she drops the car off when she is working and picks it up on her breaks. This way, i can stay home and eat cheetos in my recliner and play Gears of War and not be bothered with the car. The lug nut thing was not a big deal to me because the car was so old and not worth my time to get fixed. I had to go back a second time with the Alero because they messed it up, and yes, the third time i was hesitent to let them do the work, but they had the MANAGER of TLE fix the car, and he seemed like a nice guy and i trusted him. Not only that, but i am pretty sure they wanted to get it right this time. I test drove the car before i left to make sure it was fine. It was. Again, lesson learned. I will probably use the gift card to help buy new tires, and take them to Monroe to have them do the work.

  15. Pixel says:

    Oh and another thing, he says he brought the Alero in on the 7th, then again on the 9th, then after that they rotate the tires on the car themselves and get it so it goes straight but wobbles above 15mph. Then talking about the car at Monroe he says he got the tires balanced “a month ago”. Why the heck would you drive around for a month in a car that can’t go over 15mph without shaking?

    I’m not saying WalMart is innocent, or that their service is anything but crap, but there seems to be a lot more to this story than we’re getting.

  16. John Stracke says:

    The guy owns not one, but two American cars, and you have to ask why he keeps going back to Wal-Mart? Obviously all he cares about is price.

  17. jlrolin says:

    It isn’t even a matter of quality of the service when it comes to a rotate and balance. Yeah, customer service and training are important aspects and they SHOULD know how to do a rotate and balance, but the fact is that having a car move to one side after a rotation bears two things:

    a.) There was an alignment issue, they should have caught the first time they rotated and balanced. IF the edges are under 3/32nds-2/32nds tread, they will decline and ask you to have the tires replaced. At least in my state, Illinois, it is illegal to drive on tires less than 3/32nds tread.

    b.) From my experience, a lot of cars have bent rims when noticing a small movement to the right or left side. I can’t tell you how many cars I saw with massive bends in the rims and caused this exact problem.

    ALSO… and the most rare is there was a radial pull in the tire. To test that, you’d swap positions of the two front tires. If it pulls left, take the left tire and put on the right. If it then pulls right, a radial pull is possible, this would be a manufacturer defect.

  18. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    I barely drive the alero. My wife drives it 99% of the time and i stated that GOING 15 MPH you can feel it, it goes away as you get faster. She recently compained that it was getting worse so that is when i took it in. This is fun!!

  19. jlrolin says:

    I will say that I am a bit biased in the fact I worked with many customers who had no clue about what was going on, and felt the brunt of customer complaints such as this.

    I must say, if there was an alignment issue and your tires showed that, they should have told you about it and made you sign a disclaimer saying that you KNOW about the problem. BUT.. if they just suggest you get the alignment done and have no real proof, then it’s a suggestion.

    Fact is, Wal-mart technicians are NOT ASE certified.

  20. jlrolin says:

    Notice it considerably at low speed? Sounds like a bent rim.

  21. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Ever since I got the car back, i drove it to work today and it does not seem to go side to side. I know what all the “experts” are saying, but i know what i feel. And since Wal-Mart did what they did, it does not go side to side.

  22. Uurp says:

    There was an apocryphal story about TLE when I worked at Wal-Mart in Bentonville years ago. A customer brought in an almost-new Jaguar for new tires or rotation. After a few hours of waiting for the express ervice, she drove out of the lot and all four wheels fell off the car–the “mechanic” forgot to put the lug nuts back on. This happened at the store right across the street from Wal-Mart’s home office.

  23. mopar_man says:

    My wife works there

    That’s unfortunate.

    we get 10% off everything

    If I could get free service at Wal-Mart, I still wouldn’t take it there.

    they had the MANAGER of TLE fix the car

    See joeblevins’ comment above.

  24. deahsella says:

    After completing the title transfer on a used vehicle I was purchasing, I immediately drove to WalMart across the street, so they could help me affix my new license plate. One of screw holes on the plate holder was blocked by a broken-off screw, so I figured they could help me get it on so I could drive home safely and legally. The service agent helped me find appropriate screws, and found a screwdriver to fasten it. THEN, right before we walked out to take a look, he informed me that he was told by his manager he could NOT come out to help me, because he would be liable if anything was broken. I was in shock. It was cold and snowing and getting dark, and I was going to be forced to drive home with no license plate! The most I could get him to do was let me borrow some duct tape to tape the plate to my rear window! I can understand the liability argument if it was the tires, or motor, or some *really important* part of the vehicle…but this could barely even be considered “work”. So much for friendly helpful customer service. Thanks a lot for nothing, WalMart. Can you help me get the duct-tape gunk off my window?

  25. jlrolin says:

    The only reason it is there is to get you to come shop in the store and spend money. Wal-mart makes about $100 on just tire sales. All the profit is in the crappy services. Time isn’t a huge issue because the longer it takes them, the more time you spend in the store buying things.

  26. The Bigger Unit says:

    @Uurp: She brought an almost-new Jaguar into Wal-Mart for a tire job?

    Wow…do I even need to say it…?

  27. The Bigger Unit says:

    @deahsella: “Can you help me get the duct-tape gunk off my window?”

    No…but they’d be happy to sell you some Goo-Gone! And have you wait 15-20 minutes in line to buy it!

  28. orielbean says:

    Pete’s Tire Barn (despite the name) is one of the best chains to be found. It’s in Massachusetts. Every single time I go there, they are super helpful and know what the hell they are talking about. And the tires are a really good deal for the money. Freakin Awesome. BJ’s wasn’t too bad either, compared to some of the other chains, but Pete’s was even better than BJ’s. (and no goofy overpriced membership)

  29. vrykoul says:

    Every time that I have my tires taken off by someone else, the first thing that I do when I get home is to take off all of the lug nuts and properly torque them. I do this to make sure that the person that worked on my car wasn’t lazy and put my lug nuts on with an impact wrench. I had this happen one time, and luckily I found out when I went to do my brakes and not when I had a flat. I couldn’t even get the lug nuts off with a 24″ breaker bar.

  30. Yogambo says:

    A customer brought in an almost-new Jaguar for new tires or rotation. After a few hours of waiting for the express ervice, she drove out of the lot and all four wheels fell off the car–the “mechanic” forgot to put the lug nuts back on. This happened at the store right across the street from Wal-Mart’s home office.

    And so the urban legends begin. Let’s plug that leaky balloon up right now. They didn’t mount a license plate for free (sounds easy but can be one PITA — I’d rather do my brakes) because they were afraid someone might sue. Is that surprising?

    Look Wal-Mart exists because we cheap SOBs; many of us at least succumb to that siren song. And cheap has a price ;) But let’s be honest here again, a bit of this story seems askew and a bit of the responsibility does lie with the storyteller/car owner. Someone mentioned in here somewhere to remember that if you cry loud and long enough you’ll get what you want. It’s a shame we think that way and still more a shame that at times it takes such hysterics to get action.

    BTW it’s Monro without the ‘e’. The Monroe with the ‘e’ makes shocks; no service centers.

  31. acambras says:

    @terribleblog:
    I find it hard to believe that you’ve been reading this blog for such a long time if your first and only comment was posted today. My guess is that you were banned under a different login, that you’ll be banned (sooner or later) under this login, and that eventually, you’ll get another login and make stupid, inflammatory comments and get banned again.

    Until then, Douchebag.

  32. acambras says:

    @deahsella:
    Although I feel for you, WalMart had no obligation to get involved – it’s not like they sold you the car. Just like mall security wouldn’t help me when I needed a jump start – they don’t want to accept the liability. Makes it a little harder to find (or be) a Good Samaritan these days.

  33. GenePoole says:

    A word to the wise:

    It’s the cheapskate that pays the highest price.

  34. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    I think i stirred up the bees nest!!

  35. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    to acambra: Actually since you mention it, yes i do have another name: soldierboyadam. I have been trying to resolve some problems i have been having with my comment account for some time(i can forward the emails to you if you like that i have sent to the editors if you like). I also use that name for various sites like digg, gizmodo, lifehacker, kotaku, and engadget, search them! I am not one to gripe about things, but i also don’t agree with the average american having to bow down to getting screwed by corporate giants like Wally World. If i save one person from going there to get their car worked on i feel i have done my job!

  36. acambras says:

    @ScramDiggyBooBoo:

    I didn’t call YOU a douchebag — my comment was addressed to commenter Terribleblog.

    Unless terribleblog is one of your aliases. Then I guess I did, er, call you a douchebag.

  37. Xkeeper says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Adam is an idiot for going back to Wal*Mart over and over and over and over and over and over again?

  38. djyox says:

    I hate to say it, but Adam sounds like he might be one of those prick consumers. The ones who walk in pissed off and in a bad mood from the get go.


    I wonder what parts he left out of the real story… The time gaps are too wide for a car that has problems as soon as you drive away. If my car is pulling hard after I leave, I’m going to the end of the parking lot, and then coming right back… Wait two days? Why? Maybe the car will heal itslef?


    I’m not saying that walmart is the good guy here, but whats the rest of the story…?

  39. CumaeanSibyl says:

    The Car Talk website has a good feature for finding someone to work on your car: Mechanics Files. The reviews are detailed and, as far as I’ve been able to tell, pretty accurate.

    Asking people you know is a good idea too, but a lot of times you’ll end up getting folks who’ve had crappy experiences with their repair shop but keep going there anyway (kind of like Adam).

  40. hop says:

    speaking of walmart, what happened to the on-line survey???????????????

  41. honestdc says:

    You should have gone to Firestone!!