Firestone Complete Auto Care Hopes You Don't Notice Your Car's Broken Front Axle

Greg tells Consumerist that he was a loyal customer of Firestone Complete Auto Care, and brought his car in for some diagnostic tests to figure out some non-urgent problems. The shop called him to tell him that his car had a fuel filter problem and he would need to take it to the dealer: fine, that happens. When Greg started up his car to leave, it was hard not to notice the loud knocking sound in front. Either he happened to break the front axle when starting the car, or something went horribly awry during his repair.

I would like to share with you details about my experience with local Firestone Complete Auto Care repair shop. I have been using them for a while now, long enough that I have received their “preferred customer” sticker in the mail. Recently my car was giving me problems, horrible gas mileage, loss of power etc. I stopped by my local Firestone and asked if they could take a look at my car. They informed me that they would have to take the car in for diagnostics, for a fee of about $100. Oh, well, I decided to do it.

Since it was Sunday, they would have someone look at the car on Monday. On Monday I get the call from a mechanic who tells me that I may have a problem with the fuel filter but they don’t do it and I would have to take the car to the dealer. Strange, I thought, but they probably don’t know how to do everything. I could not pick up the car until Tuesday morning.

When I got there, it turned out the fee was only around $50, so I was pleasantly surprised. However, when I got into my car and started it, I got a very unpleasant surprise – the loud knocking sound from somewhere under my car. This definitely wasn’t there when I dropped the car off. I declined to try to drive off and returned the keys to the shop explaining the situation. The mechanic who worked on my car was supposed to come in later that day.

He called later and said my front axle was broken. He claim he did not know anything about it and pretty much said I was on my own. He said I can tow my car away somewhere else! Now, I understand that my car is not new, and things break, but I have a strong feeling that they knew about it, that it broke while they were taking test drive and they tried to cover it up hoping that I won’t notice until I drive off the lot. It would be a very strange coincidence if the axle broke just when I got into the car and put it in gear. I can’t believe the way they decided to deal with that problem!

I called the corporate consumer affair hotline. The nice lady there took all the information from me and promised that someone will get back to me in up to 48 hours time. As I’m writing this email, 48 hours has just passed. I was thinking of launching EECB, but can’t find any corporate info. What would you do?

Here’s a page with phone numbers to contact their parent company, Bridgestone corporate. Follow the steps in the classic Consumerist article Be a Customer Service Ninja, and phone your way to someone in power.

You can also report the incident to the government. Here in New York, repair complaints go to the Department of Motor Vehicles; your state may vary.