Customer Drops Off Car At Dealership For Repairs, Gets Tires And Wheels Stolen Instead

Before you drop off your car at your local dealership for any sort of repairs, make sure you’re clear on the chain of liability should anything happen to it—especially right now, when dealerships can barely afford those flappy air things, much less tires. A woman in Charlotte, NC was left with around $1,000 in damages when the tires and wheels were stolen from the 2005 Audi she’d left with the dealership over the weekend.

According to the Charlotte Observer, she left the car on a Friday to have its window and trunk repaired. On Monday morning, the dealer informed her that the tires and wheels had gone missing. The general manager of the dealership says his insurance policy won’t cover theft of that sort, and it’s up to the customer to pay for any damages. A competitor tells the paper that his policy also holds the customer responsible for lost or stolen property, but that he would have at least helped the woman by paying for part of the replacement costs. The bottom line: find out who is responsible for what before you leave the lot, so you’re not surprised if something bad happens.

“Customer must pay for theft of tires, wheels” [Charlotte Observer] (Thanks to Michael!)
(Photo: TheTruthAbout…)

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  1. GyroMight says:

    Yike. Putting up a sign that says not responsible for lost or stolen property is like printing a license to steal.

    –A La Seinfeld

    • takes_so_little says:

      @FoxBearDog: I don’t get it; do robbers suddenly give a shit who’s liable?

      • sleze69 says:

        @takes_so_little: To me it sounds like the dealer could just steal the tires and shrug at the owner.

        • kathyl says:

          @sleze69: Honestly, the dealer could basically strip the car and say, “Gee, sorry that happened, but we can order some replacement parts for you if you want. We might even give you a 5% discount out of the goodness of our hearts.”

          • snowburnt says:

            @kathyl: And then the owner could sue the crap out of the dealership. I don’t care if your insurance covers it, my car is under your care, if it gets stripped, you’re paying

        • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

          @sleze69: “Someone stole your used rims and slightly worn tires…luckly we just got some used rims and slightly worn tires in stock!”

        • takes_so_little says:

          @sleze69: I see, sweet deal if you’re scum.

    • bbagdan says:

      @FoxBearDog:

      Actually, where I’m from, those signs do not mean anything if you are forced to leave your belongings with a company.

  2. sockrockinbeats says:

    man, i sure do hate those plastic flappy things.

    and also this is pretty sad. poor lady. i wonder where the dealership was located? i don’t know charlotte, so i don’t know where the shady areas of town are.

    • Bourque77 says:

      @sockrockinbeats: A lot of the dealerships in charlotte are in or near shady areas. I have heard of other people having problems out of this audi stealership so im not surprised to read this story

    • cluberti says:

      @sockrockinbeats: I know it well – the dealerships on Independence are in a VERY shady area. In fact, I drive further out to the Merc dealer on South when I leave it for service, as the lot there is a locked/gated lot (not impossible to see theft, but a good deterrent), and it’s in a relatively safe area.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @sockrockinbeats: (and @Laura) i think the proper term is “wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men”

      also, the old Scott Clark Toyota dealership on E Independence (near best buy) is a sketchy area, but they’d put your car behind a locked gate. i think the new Scott Clark toyota has a similar fenced area, can’t remember. Hendrick Honda on South blvd also has a fenced area for cars in for maintenance

  3. TheBusDriver says:

    Yeah, his insurance policy may not cover it, but that does not mean the company is not liable for the acts done to the car while in their control. I’ve had cases like this where a car was broken into while in for service, and the dealer had to pay. Also one where all windows were scratched (vandalism) and the dealer paid 100%. They take responsibility for the car in their possession.

    • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

      @TheBusDriver: That depends solely on the release form you sign when you hand them the keys.

      Some dealers cover that type stuff. Others, as is the case here, do not.

      I agree with the other dealer in the article, they could have at least done SOMETHING to help the lady out. Give her some steelies or something to at least get her rolling.

    • tbax929 says:

      @TheBusDriver:

      That’s a great response. I don’t know why people assume that if their insurance company denies a claim it means they’re not still liable. Unless the customer signed a release that indicated they weren’t liable, the dealership is still on the hook.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @tbax929: And even then, state law may or may not allow them to disclaim liability.

      • snowburnt says:

        @tbax929: I’m guessing even then, depending on the steps the dealer took to secure the car, the dealer will still hold liability on the car. If I sign something saying I’m not liable and then they leave the car with the keys in the ignition on the side of the highway I’m guessing I’ll get paid from the dealer for their negligence.

  4. nato0519 says:

    Thats what you get when you take your car to get fixed at a dealer.

    • TideGuy says:

      @nato0519: With an Audi the dealer is sometimes the cheapest option. There are a lot of mechanics that won’t touch one.

      • mzs says:

        @TideGuy: That is true and also true of VW as well. One issue is the VAG scanner. There is so much info readable, settable, and plotable over the OBD-II port that unless someone has an expensive VAG scanner and the agreement to keep it up to date it really puts you in a bind. Also the printed service manuals have nothing on what the dealers have online. Finally lots of simple things are not simple unless you have the special tools. I had to fix my window regulator and since I did not have the special tool and could not borrow or buy one at reasonable cost, I needed to drill some holes and get clever with dowels, tubing, and metal rods. There are innumerable pullers, spacers, separators, odd handled wrenches, etc, that would cost a fortune to buy.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @nato0519: Why? Because theft can’t possibly happen at a mom and pop mechanic shop?

    • coren says:

      @nato0519: Ah yes, it’s their fault for taking it to the dealer which is probably covered for free as part of the buying purpose instead of paying more money for another location that could also get ripped off. Makes total sense

    • tbax929 says:

      @nato0519:

      Our first Blamet the Victim post. Nice.

    • I_have_something_to_say says:

      @nato0519:

      Sorry but the dealer around me has some veteran mechanics who know their way around my shitty, shitty Colorado better than the mom and pop guys.

    • FLConsumer says:

      @nato0519: Sorry, but today’s cars aren’t the same ones we had in the 1960s. They’re far more complex, particularly the more sophisticated ones. I’d love to see your average shade-tree mechanic attempt to work on the suspension of a VW Phaeton or the 100% electronic, 0% mechanical brakes on some Mercedes.

      TideGuy’s right — so far the cheapest tyres for my car have been at the dealer. Balanced and aligned properly, no less.

      I also have to say that since my family and I have left the shade tree mechanics and headed to the dealers for service, reliability of our cars has improved substantially.

    • admiral_stabbin says:

      @nato0519: With a lot of imports (esp. Euros) you won’t find parts locally at anywhere but the dealer.

      For example, I was working on a friends’ Volvo last night. I know what part is bad, and I know how to change it. However, the dealer is the only place in this town that *might* have the part in-stock.

      From what I understand, that’s fairly common even in larger metros than I live in.

  5. Daniel Parmelee says:

    If the car is in their possession, they’re liable for whatever happens to it. It’s THEIR problem the insurance won’t cover it, not hers. She should get a lawyer ASAP.

    • coren says:

      @Daniel Parmelee: Unless she signed a release..

      • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

        @coren:

        Release or not, if they left it somewhere vulnerable (I don’t know from the story if they did) instead of locked up on their lot (Left it on the street maybe?) Then they’re responsible and can be sued for negligence.

        Either way, I’d take a small claims case against the dealership, and put the burden of proof on them.

        Small Claims cases are relatively inexpensive, and you can represent yourself (and the company must hire or retain a lawyer.)

  6. Hobz says:

    I think it’s kind of weird that they would steel the rims off of a 2005 when they had the entire lot to pick from?

    Or am I missing something in the story…

    • jerros says:

      @Hobz: Yea I think it’s fairly weird as well. The scenario that’s playing out in my head involves some guy coming onto the lot to buy a new car and saying “I want the rims that car has….” to which the salesman says “Sure” with out realizing it’s a car on the lot for service.

      As for liability, the dealer should be fully liable for any damage done to the car in the service center or on the lot as long as it’s in their posession.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Hobz: Dealer cars have dealer tags on them, not real license plates. It’d take a real moron to mistake a person’s personal car for a new or used one sold by the dealer.

    • coren says:

      @Hobz: Yeah but if the dealer takes the rims off lot cars they can’t sell those!

      ..I mean, uh, tricky thieves!

      (ok but seriously, I didn’t read the linked article – no other car had parts taken?)

    • xnihilx says:

      @Hobz: Perhaps the new vehicles had locking lug nuts and hers didn’t. My 2001 Neon (purchased new, still driving it) had them pre-installed by the dealer because someone stole a lot rims/tires from their stock.

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    So what are you supposed to do? Hang out with the car the whole time it is being repaired? Doesnt a car dealership at least have some security cameras?

  8. MeOhMy says:

    I have to imagine that those “Not responsible” disclaimers are worthless and that when I file my insurance claim my insurer will chase them to pay the damages…and probably be successful.

  9. Jason Meller says:

    I’m not a lawyer but remembering some of the basics of a few business law classes I took this seems to be in direct violation of one of tenants of bailment ([en.wikipedia.org]).

    It is reasonable to assume there will be a basic level of responsibility and care for other people’s property when rendering services despite a posted sign or any contract clause. In any event the dealer should pony up the dough and deal with their insurance company on their own time.

    If I owned a dealership I would be mortified if I couldn’t provide adequate security for my customer’s property I wouldn’t shift blame.

    • TheBursar says:

      @Jason Meller: Bailment seems very reasonable in this case.

      • eelmonger says:

        @TheBursar: Yeah, except:
        “If both bailor and bailee are found to benefit from the relationship, such as leaving your clothes at the dry cleaners, then the bailee is only held to a standard of ordinary care.”

        In other words you’d have to prove the dealership was grossly negligent, as opposed to only slightly negligent in the case of a one way benefit, in their care and storage of the car. So unless they left it in a dark corner of the lot with the keys on the seat, they aren’t (legally) responsible.

        • godlyfrog says:

          @eelmonger: You misread it, I think, because the page explains that gross negligence has to be proven if the owner was the only one benefiting from the dealership getting the car. Since they both benefit from the exchange, she would just have to prove that they were negligent in handling her car, such as leaving it in a place where vehicles had been stripped before without having taken any precautions to make it safer, or informing her of the risk. If this is the first time this has happened at the dealership, however, she’d be out of luck, since there’s no way the dealership could have possibly predicted that this would happen.

  10. cristiana says:

    The same exact thing happened to me around 10 years ago. I dropped off my car to the dealership for warranty service, and that night the wheels and tires were stolen off of at least ten cars. Initially they wanted me to go through insurance, but, then shortly after they said that to me, they just told me to come in and pick out new wheels. So, I ended up with a $2400 set of 18″ wheels, which cost about double the cost of my old ones.

  11. Hobz says:

    “He described the situation as one in which a person goes to a shopping mall and buys something at Target. The customer puts the item in the car and goes shopping at Old Navy. While in the second store, the customer’s car is vandalized. Should Target or Old Navy be held responsible?”

    Haha… I think of it kind of like, you take your computer into Best Buy to have the hard drive fixed and your mouse gets stolen?

    Regardless, wouldn’t her insurance cover the cost of the theft?

    • coren says:

      @Hobz: Yeah that analogy is crap – there’s no reasonable assumption that Target and/or Old Navy will be protecting your car.

      The analogy should be more along the lines of you buy at Target, go into Old Navy, they ask for it to be held at the register (to not confuse you with a shop lifter or whatever, it happens in stores all the time) and someone takes *that*

    • snowburnt says:

      @Hobz: If anyone is responsible it’s the owner of the parking lot, and even then I’d bet they wouldn’t be found responsible.

      Agreed, the analogy is flawed.

  12. 99bandito says:

    So if I park my car at Walmart, and it gets broken into, is Walmart liable for damages? How about my local ice cream shop? This is fairly common at dealerships, or service establishments (i.e. Midas, monroe muffler, et al)

    Just because a car is sitting in a parking lot someplace doesn’t make the owner of said parking lot liable for damages. It would go on the customer’s insurance, and if the dealership is a classy sort of joint, they’ll often cover the deductable for the customer. Posession in this sort of case is almost always “inside a locked area”.

    Now…if something like this happened while the car was parked inside the service department, things change.

    • ilves says:

      @99bandito:

      There’s a large difference between parking in a parking lot and handing over your keys to a dealership for an overnight repair/maintenance operation. Also, if the dealership had moved the car inside, then moved it back out into the lot, they have a responsibility to place it somewhere safe. If the car is in the custody of the establishment (not just parked near it) and it is robbed, then the establishment is responsible. If your friend borrows your car, parks it on the street and the tires are stolen, your friend would be liable for parking it there and having it under their care.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @99bandito: I think taking your car to the dealership implies that because you are entrusting your car to the dealership staff, they are taking on care of your car. Your car is there specifically because it needs to be there for maintenance.

      Even if it’s commonplace for dealerships to not carry any responsibility for a vehicle on their lot, your car is being left there under the care of staff. You’re not just parking your car at Wal-Mart. There’s a level of responsibility there on the part of the staff.

      Wal-Mart is the place you go to unrelated to your car. Going to Wal-Mart has nothing to do with your car’s safety, so they would not be liable for anything that
      happens in their parking lot.

    • nakedscience says:

      @99bandito: “So if I park my car at Walmart, and it gets broken into, is Walmart liable for damages?”

      Don’t make idiotic comparisons. These aren’t the same and you know it.

    • tbax929 says:

      @99bandito:

      When you shop at Walmart, your car is not in their care, custody, or control. Apples and oranges, pal.

      • RandomHookup says:

        @tbax929: I get around that by giving my keys to the guy collecting all the carts in the parking lots. I just don’t tell him which car it is.

      • 99bandito says:

        @tbax929:

        Your car is not in the dealership’s care when its in their parking lot. Your care is in the dealer’s care once it passes the threshhold of a secure area. (typically a locked fenced area, or a building, something not public access)

        I can only speak for NY, as I haven’t worked in other states, but here its 100% the same as being parked in the Walmart parking lot. I spent 10 years working for General Motors in finance and customer relations, and have handled probably 10-12 incidents exactly like this one. In each and every case, the only liability that existed was when the car was locked away somewhere, not in a public access lot.

        The law is the same for valet parking lots as well. They have you keys, but if the lot is public access, they’re not responsible for someone breaking into your car.

        This is just another reason not to leave your car someplace overnight unless you know it’s a 100% secure place to leave it. If it’s not locked up someplace, don’t leave it there.

    • coren says:

      @99bandito: When you shop at Walmart, the car never leaves your possession – you aren’t entrusting the care of the car to them (unless you’re getting auto work done, but you didn’t say that). Here, the dealership is taking (temporary) possession of the vehicle.

    • billbobbins says:

      @99bandito: You hand the keys over to a Walmart employee when you go??

  13. H3ion says:

    It wasn’t clear whether she left the car while the dealership was open or just dropped it off. That might make a difference in determining whether the dealership had possession and some obligation.

    Also, doesn’t she have her own insurance?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @H3ion: That’s a good point. If I leave my car there after hours, it seems obvious there isn’t any staff there to ensure its safety, just like there isn’t any staff to ensure the safety of any of the other cars.

      But just because you have your own insurance, doesn’t mean it’s not a ding against your policy and you’ll end up paying in some other way (like higher rates).

      • Blaaaah says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Not in this particular situation. Comprehensive claims don’t affect your insurance rate in NC.

        • tbax929 says:

          @Blaaaah:

          They do if you’re getting a claim-free credit. People often overlook that.

          • Blaaaah says:

            @tbax929:

            Depends on the verbiage of the policy. All policies in the state of NC are essentially the same, they have just been rebranded with the insurance companies logo and have different rates due to different discounts offered and different pricing schemes based on risk. Some companies’ claim free discount isn’t a ‘claim free discount’ but an accident free discount that usually goes something like “…if you’re a safe driver with no moving violations, who’s been accident-free for the past five years.”

            However, depending on the insurance company and the individual CSR you get, the fact that you had a comprehensive claim can be an easy way to explain away a rate increase when in fact, the only reason the rate increased was because an across the board rate increase in that state. The CSR doesn’t want to say that. They want to be able to put it back on the customer- that through their own actions, the customer is responsible for the rate increase.

            OR

            The insurance company performed a soft hit on your credit profile and found out your insurance score is worst then what it was originally when you signed up with that particular company and they want to charge you more.

            Truth be told, it’s RARE that it’s actually a comprehensive claim that kicks the rate up- speaking in generalities and referring to insurance across the US.
            The only states that really come to mind at the moment where a comprehensive claim will really mess your rate up are CA, FL (too many in a certain time period and you may not qualify for coverage at all), and NJ. Although, with regards to NJ, I may be confusing PIP Claims with Comprehensive claims. It is a bit late.

  14. toddkravos says:

    I’m sure YMMV by State. I’m very certain that in Ohio, that the dealer is 100% responsible since the vehichle was in their “possesion”

  15. Blaaaah says:

    This is a nonissue if they took reasonable measures to secure the vehicle i.e. behind a locked gate. She should go through her insurance to have the rims and tires replaced and ideally the dealership would cover her deductible, if they were a good place to do business.

    A comprehensive claim doesn’t affect your rate at all in the state of NC. Furthermore, a $100 deductible on comprehensive is (in most cases) roughly $20 more then a $500 deductible. In my opinion, it’s worth it.

  16. ironchef says:

    small claims court. I’d give that a shot.

  17. jerros says:

    When I take my car in for service at the dealer, I drive up to the service area of the dealer, a guy comes out takes my keys, writes down the VIN number, mileage, licenceplate number and goes around the vehicle looking for any dings & dents and records them (for liability purposes). After that I walk in side, and talk to a service manager who prints out the work to be done on the vehicle, gives me an estimated price and has me sign on the dotted line allowing them to service the vehicle.

    This is completely different than simply parking your car in the walmart parking lot. You don’t hand your car keys over to the greeter at walmart, he doesn’t come out and record information about the vehicle, nor does he take direct posession of the vehicle at any point.

    It’s also one thing to say “Not responsible for lost property” to prevent yourself from being liable for lost laptops or other things that may have been left in the car. But to claim not responsible when an actual part of the vehicle is missing (not to mention a vital part)? No car owner would ever think that they needed to put secure locks on their tires when taking their vehicle in for service.

  18. jpdanzig says:

    I agree with others who say the dealer’s action — or should I say, inaction — was entirely unacceptable.

    If they received the customer’s car for service — i.e. she signed it in properly with a service advisor — then it is their responsibility to take care of it while making repairs, and it is their responsibility to make any reparations in the case that the car is broken into or vandalized while on their watch.

    There must be a way she can get them to cover her losses. I would talk to either a lawyer — or the local news station’s consumer reporter.

  19. fantomesq says:

    Great case for small claims court.

    When Mickey dropped off her car at the dealership she created a bailment. The dealership took possession (but not ownership) of the car during the repair. A baillee owes a duty of care to take, at minimum, reasonable precautions to safeguard the bailment (the car). Failing that, the bailee is liable for loss that occurs during the bailment.

    The dealership’s claim that their insurance won’t cover it and therefor they are off the hook is falacious. They remain liable whether or not their insurance covers it. In fact, proof of liability insurance can’t even be introduced.

    The “policy” that the dealership is not liable for personal property can not reasonably be extended to the wheels and tires of the car. A judge will toss this claim quickly since the wheels and tires were necessary to perform the repair in order to relocate the car.

    Double-check that your agreement with Audi and make sure that you aren’t agreeing to waive claims against the dealership in accepting the $500 Audi offered you but this sounds like a fairly easy small claims court case.

    Remember that your own insurance company may well cover the loss in which case you’ve got a pitbull in your corner ready to fight for their rights.

    • Kos says:

      @fantomesq: Absolutely correct. This is pure bailor/bailee law. Audi is liable regardless if they are covered by insurance.

      Furthermore, the argument Taylor makes in the article is flawed. The equivalent is getting your car valeted or putting it in paid parking, not parking it in a public parking lot.

  20. sirwired says:

    I think this is pretty clear cut… If she used the drop box for her keys, she’s liable; the dealership had about as much custody of the car as Wal-Mart does when you go in to shop.

    If she handed the keys over the counter and checked it in, then the dealership has responsibility to protect the car.

    • parliboy says:

      @sirwired: If I drop off a video rental at the store’s dropbox and something happens to the box, should I have to pay for the video, or does the invitation by the store to use the dropbox create some form of estoppel?

    • RStui says:

      @sirwired: Actually, no. Even with a drop box, the dealership is effectively allowing you to make them liable. If they tell you to drop the car off, and put the keys in the dropbox, they are liable. It’s their choice to provide a dropbox as a convenience, but the authorized use of it does not waive their liability for reasonable care.

      If you’re just some random person parking on their lot, and you put your keys in the dropbox, no they are not liable. But if you’re a paying customer with the understanding that this is an acceptable way to transfer care of your car from yourself to the dealership, they are liable.

      Intent is about 90% of contract law, and while it may be hard to prove in some cases, it does have a very real impact on the application of a contract or agreement.

      • cluberti says:

        Correct@RStui: Correct – the dropbox is a convenience FOR THE DEALER so they don’t have to have someone covering non-working hours at their lot, not an excuse to waive liability. The drop box likely will meet the requirement for bailment, as they allowed a way for you to transfer care of the vehicle to them (the drop box) so they could, at THEIR convenience, offer service of the vehicle. I don’t think they’d be able to argue it away in court, and the plaintiff would win – they had possession of the vehicle, on their lot, for service in their establishment, and I do not believe they would be able to say that they are not liable because their insurance doesn’t cover it. They’re not even related – just because liability insurance for the dealer doesn’t cover everything they could possibly be liable for doesn’t make them not liable for what happens to a vehicle in their possession, it simply makes the dealer liable with no insurance backing.

        Not the poster’s problem, it’s the dealer’s problem, and they should cover the wheels.

  21. elemeno says:

    A good buddy of mine dropped off his car at his Mazda dealer last Friday for some work. He got a call from the cops on Sunday that someone from the dealership had stolen it and ran it into a ditch, totaling it. Maybe memorial day weekend isn’t the best time to get your car fixed.

  22. Nintenboy01 says:

    @takes_so_little: Same thing even in baggage counters in malls and supermarkets. So what’s keeping them from stealing our stuff?

  23. starzshine says:

    This kind of thing happens all the time, my mother had a truck that went through a flood in Richmond, VA. After the truck was left at a shop for repair the new stereo, racing style seatbelts, floor mats, even the cap in the center of the steering wheel was stolen! (It matched the japanese racing motiff that was going on…)

    Ever since then she won’t leave a car anywhere to be repaired over the weekend if she doesn’t have to. Theft is a terrible thing, but if you were a small business owner (Ie Mechanic) would you limit yourself to only working on cheap cars because you couldn’t afford insurance enough to cover the cost of all of the things that could possibly be stolen off of a luxury car?

    Bad things happen… it sucks… so does getting hit by a drunk driver with out insurance. Been there, done that, too.

  24. haoshufu says:

    This will definitely get challanged in CA. You have possession, you have responsibilties.

    How about suing the dealership for not properly securing the place, thus causing your property to be stolen. The dealer might even be in a conspiracy to scam customers out of parts.

  25. mariospants says:

    I distrust car dealerships and the folks who work in their repair shops are often friends of the guys who do the chopping. It’s no strain of intelligence that ensuring that a car’s alarm doesn’t go off when you are stealing the wheels is 100x easier if you have the car keys in your possession. I’d like to know: A) what kind of rims and tires she had on her car and B) what kind of dealer this was? (general import used car dealer for example?)

    I ran into a situation like this once. We bought a used Acura Legend with around 60k miles on the clock. I replaced the battery with a Sears diehard and slapped some brand new Yokohamas on it. FYI, there was a pretty obvious “V”-shaped scratch on the stero right next to the volume control.

    Anyway, after a couple of days, I notice some serious valve noise. Sounds like it needs a complete top-end so I bring the car back to the dealership and said “fix it or give me my money back”. The told me they’d fix it.

    A few days later, they tell me that there was a break-in and several cars were stolen from their lot, including mine. All of the others were found EXCEPT mine and one other. Weird that the ones that were found were actually cars that had not yet been sold…

    Anyway, the police eventually found my Legend on its belly in a swamp with the windows and sunroof open. The leather was ruined, the rims and tires, stereo and battery were gone.

    I went to pick up what wasn’t stolen from the car (some clothes and stuff) and the guy at the auction impound lot said “oh, Mr. Pants, this is your second time here today?” apparently someone had already signed in under my name to see the car. My insurance gave me full replacement value, as the dealership denied any responsibility.

    Anyway, a few months later, a lady sends me a letter saying that she saw my car for sale (in a different state) and wanted the background on it. I called her up and she told me that she had already bought it. I asked her if she knew that the car had been stolen and written off. She said “no, they just told me that you people were filthy” (an excuse for the ruined leather). I asked her what kind of rims and tires were on the car. “brand new Yokohamas on original Acura rims” she said. Stereo? “original”. V-shaped scratch? “yes”. Battery? “Sears Diehard”. Turns out that they had even turned back the clock to 30k miles!

    I told her to take the car back the next day and demand all of her costs back. Since they apparently shit bricks trying to appease her, I’d say that the entire list of conspirators included the original dealership, the auction impound lot and the final dealer.

    They never did fix the top-end.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Back in about ’95 I had a Nissan van that was recalled. Phase one of the recall was some engine repair. The local dealership had my name on their list so they called and offered to come pick up the van, leave a loaner, and get it back ASAP.

    When it was returned my aftermarket Sony radio had been carefully removed. My guess is that an employee thought it had been brought in for the total recall and didn’t think the radio deserved the crusher. Dealership seemed skeptical when they realized how difficult it was to install/uninstall the unit but bought me a brand new one.

  27. WelcomeToMyWorld says:

    Cripes, the dealer himself or his employees could steal the tires and sell them to another customer. What a racket!

  28. calchip says:

    Perhaps the simplest solution would be for her to figure out the busiest day the dealership has for service, then go about a half hour before whenever they open, and stand next to the service entrance with a large sign that says “I left my car to have the trunk fixed at this dealership. My tires and rims got stolen, and the dealer won’t pay. You might want to think twice about leaving your car”, complete with flyers to hand out with details.

    My guess is it would be about 15 minutes before someone from the dealership showed up with a check.

  29. Bs Baldwin says:

    The lost and stolen property clause is suppose to cover removable objects from inside the car, not actually parts of the car. In this environment, dealer is a moron for playing hardball. The car is on your lot for repairs, it is your responsibility to protect it the same as the new cars out front.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A very similar thing happened to me in 2000 with a Ford Focus that I left at Orange Ford in Albany, NY. I brought it in for recall work on a Tuesday, and it wound up taking well into the weekend for them to finish the work. The following Monday I got a call from the police that my car had been located in a school parking lot about 10 miles away on top of cinder blocks. $7500 in damages, and the dealership denied any responsibility – in fact they even accused me of a conspiracy to steal my own car!! Well luckily my insurer at the time was pretty good (Progressive), and set up a claim under my comprehensive policy. Initially I had to pay a deductible, but about a year later I got that back because Progressive went after the dealership, who eventually had to pay up.

    Not sure what legal action this poor woman can take. At the time I spoke to several lawyers but none were interested in any kind of lawsuit since damages were limited to the car itself – I was in no way harmed. All suggested small claims court, and if my insurance company hadn’t been there, that’s probably the way I would have gone.

    I guess they don’t call them stealerships for nothing!

  31. cyborg5001 says:

    I don’t care if the insurance cover’s the loss. The dealer had possession of the car when the theft happened, so they are liable for the replacement parts.
    If I take a car on an extended weekend test drive, and its tires are stolen, the dealer is going to come after me to get new tires. If I say that my insurance won’t cover it, then they will laugh and say pay up.
    Same difference

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      @cyborg5001: Exactly. Just because his insurance doesn’t cover it doesn’t mean the dealer isn’t liable. Using that logic the dealer could save a bundle on his car insurance as no insurance equals no liability.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Same crap happened to my parents kinda. My mom’s car had been in the dealer’s body shop prior to hurricane jean hitting our area and the dealer called her 30 minutes before closing to pickup the car, well of course since she didn’t have a car and the rest of us were working she couldn’t. Well they put it in one of the bays and the bay door got blown in on the car, luckily their was no major damage. But the dealer had the nerve to say it wasn’t their fault and they weren’t responsible, so she called her insurance co who were the ones who had sent her their in the first place to get the body repairs done from a accident and they “took care of it”. We are not really sure what happened but they didn’t require a deductable payment to get the new damages fixed so I think they must have gone after the dealership for the damages.

  33. Cocoa Vanilla says:

    @billbobbins: Someone doesn’t have a functional sarcasm detector…

  34. subtlefrog says:

    “The bottom line: find out who is responsible for what before you leave the lot, so you’re not surprised if something bad happens.”

    I can’t imagine asking a mechanic – “so, if, after I leave, someone breaks into your lot, and steals my tires, are you gonna pay for that?”

  35. Michael Ray says:

    I thought if you bring your car to a dealership they will check the car inside out for damages and scratches and you should get the same exact car with the same exact number of scrathces if any otherwise they’re liable for it.

  36. jwissick says:

    No way is she liable. The dealership in on the hook here. They have possession, then they have responsibility. Period. They need to do right by her.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I have been in the automotive repair business for 35 years at dealerships and independent garages. You are all wrong in assuming the dealer is responsible. The following disclaimer has been on all repair orders as long as I can remember and is a must sign before work can be performed on customer automoblies:

    I hereby authorize the above repair work to be done along with the necessary materials. You and your employees may operate above vehicle for purposes of testing, inspection, or delivery at my risk· An express mechanics lien is acknowledged on above vehicle to secure the amount of repairs thereto. It is also understood that you will not be held responsible for loss or damage to cars or articles left in cars in case of fire, theft, or any other cause beyond your control.
    It may be in fine print at the bottom but it is always there in a similar form.

  38. dinnyin says:

    Bah… Left mine at a dealship a few years back an they lost the whole car. It was only 9 months old.

    Told me to pound sand, and call my insurance co.

    (I was not a consumerist reader back then)