Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tired but... Unethical?

Granted, I don't know crap about cars, much less tires, so we're going to begin there with that little fact.

My daughter's car had a flat tire. For some ungodly reason, in the two years we've lived in this little town of God Spit, Tx, we have had a LOT of flat tires. Not sure what's up with that. I went to our one and only tire store to have it patched.

The owner comes in and tells me it needs to be replaced, that "steal is showing", but what do I want to do? I knew the car needed to be aligned - it's been pulling really badly. He gives me a rundown on tire prices plus alignment. "So around $175-$200." Um, okay. I mean, it's my daughter in this car. I don't want her to have a blow out or anything. I need her safe.

This was at 4:30 yesterday and they said they'd do it this morning. During the evening, I found out it's ILLEGAL to patch a tire if the steal is showing. Ooooh, I see. So which is it? Was the steal showing as he stated and they HAD to be replaced? Then why offer to patch it if it's ILLEGAL? I can't fathom an ethical place risking lawsuit and sanctions by doing that. Or, if it WAS patchable, why lie to me and tell me steal is showing? Either way, he's lied about something. Either way, this is a dinky town man screwing over a citizen by playing up their ignorance on the situation. Either way, it's WRONG.

I dropped the kids off this morning and rushed immediately over there to tell them to patch it and do nothing else because of the information I found out last night. Oh too late. It's already done. Of course. Oh, and, by the way, it's now $233. Whatever. Fine. I pay it. Shandie is to pick it up after school.

I come home this morning and I'm talking to people about it. I finally call this dinky place back and tell them to put my tires in the trunk because I want them ON HAND to show people what they did. They didn't seem too happy about it, but I really couldn't care less.

I called around and two shops in Temple are going to look at the tires and give me their opinions on it. Should be interesting.

Anyone else have anything like this happen to them? I'm pondering a letter to the editor in our Once a Week newspaper.


bookfraud said...

calling your town "god spit, texas" makes me want to visit.

an unethical auto/tire repair shop? trying to screw the general public? you're kidding, right? that stuff never happens ;)

this is one of the many reasons i don't own a car. thanks for reinforcing this lesson, brenda.

pjd said...

Pair of tires and alignment for $225? Sounds reasonable for where I live.

You didn't mention if it's an all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. If it is, check your owners manual to make sure the place you went to knows how to do the job right. If not, I'm guessing the guy isn't necessarily a crook. If you live out in the middle of nowhere, he might get a lot of people coming in who can't afford new tires but who could go another month or two on patched tires. And who knows? Maybe he does the local police tires for free, and they look the other way when he patches tires that are legally too far gone...

But no, I don't know anything about it either. It will be interesting to see what the other places think about your old tires. I'm betting they might say "can't see the steel, but they needed to be replaced."

blogless_troll said...

If the steel's showing you should be able to see it yourself. I'm not trying to be a smartass here, but it'll be the silvery bits showing in the rubber where the tread is worn the most. They're like quarter inch cables embedded in the rubber that go all the way around the tire, kinda like rebar in concrete. There may be several across the width of the tire, but usually you only see one on the inside or outside edge, whichever side the wear is on. I probably wouldn't take the chance with your daughter, but it's possible to get several thousand more miles on tars like those. Probably not smart, but possible.

ChristineEldin said...

Brenda, I don't know anything about tires. But sounds like a reasonable price and at least it's safe.

Sarah said...

I've driven on tires with steel showing. Didn't realize it at the time or I would've changed them out sooner. You do see the silver in the middle of the black. And if there's enough steel showing, it makes an interesting whine on the road.

Had a friend take a fuel injected car to a mechanic who said it needed a carb overhaul. (They don't have carbs) She knew enough to go to the owner and tell him what the mechanic said. The mechanic got fired on the spot.

There are people who will ignore the law and help you make the tires last a bit longer if you can't afford the new stuff. But they also have really cheap tires that people can buy, too. Don't last very long though.

Anonymous said...

I know a little bit bout cars. ;)

If the steel is showing on a tire, it should be replaced and not patched. This is because the rubber has worn down to the point that the steel ribbons in more or less the center of the tire are showing; you're not going to get very good traction from steel, and the tire is *very* close to failure at that point. So the shop wasn't necessarily lying there.

There are also other things that can make a tire unrepairable; like a cut or hole in the sidewall. Most places won't patch those because it's not safe and usually doesn't hold up anyway.

That said, it pays to know what's going on when dealing with ANY place that works on cars. You'd be surprised what they will try to get you to pay for. In your case, however, given that most alignments are around $100 and a couple of decent tires are around $50 each, doesn't sound like they are far off. I've heard horror stories where people have taken cars to places just to get the alignment checked and leave with 4 new tires, new suspension components, and a $1500 bill when none of it was needed. All because they didn't know better.

Best to let a friend (knowledgeable, of course) check it out if you can.

Kat said...

Not with tires - but I did have something similar happen with something called "under body rust protection." When I bought my car 8 years ago, I did alone. I was totally taken advantage of. I asked for an extended warantee, and was told I had an extended warantee - until I needed work done. I was then showed that I signed the paperwork for the rust protection. Long story short - they had never even applied the rust protection they billed me for. I faught back! I became the inflamed pimple on their asses and eventually got my money back - plus interest, and the warrantee. They also lost a customer. And, had to deal with the attorny general whom I copied on all of my correspondance.

Lexi said...

Heelllloooo??!?! It's almost April. Where are you? We miss you!

Travis Erwin said...

Did the tire mafia get you for defaming their good name? Hope not.

Jeff said...

maybe she's just tired.

Thank you! Thank you! I'll be here all week.