On January 18th 2003 I took my car to the Aamco service center in Schaumburg Illinois. My transmission was leaking fluid and slipping badly. After speaking to Mike Torres I left my car at the facility and awaited his call to tell me what was wrong and how much it would cost to remedy this situation.
I was told my transmission was shot, and my torque converter and rear seal as well needed replacing. In addition the banner kit and solenoid and other assorted parts were in need of replacement as well. I waited for them to diagnose it and when he did call me I was told it would be around $1900.00 to fix it as good as new and I agreed to that amount and gave Mike the go ahead.
Now I will tell you I kind of felt you had me by the short ones as my transmission was in pieces and to put it back together without any work done would be a charge of $400.00 or so. In addition to having it towed somewhere else and it just wasnt worth the hassle. So like I said I gave him the go ahead.
Well two days later I was back at the shop to notify Mike that my transmission was still slipping and that I would like him to look at it and see what the problem was. I also told him at the time that my steering was off and I could feel a click when I turned the steering wheel. He got it on the rack and discovered that sure enough one of the seals had shifted and it was leaking fluid and he repaired it and told me that they couldnt find any sign of the steering problems I had noticed.
Well I thought maybe I was imagining it and wrote it off and waited to see if it became any more pronounced or worse. I actually do not drive the car much in the winter, as it is a convertible so I didnt notice it that much until March 11th when I pulled out of my driveway and felt it clicking while I backed out. Then when I put it in drive the transmission slipped really badly. I drove it straight to the Aamco shop and Mike took it in and sure enough the solenoid pack and what Mike said was a defective clutch had to be replaced. At that time I mentioned the click in the steering and was told they road tested it and still felt nothing.
So that was a warranty repair at no charge and I was still thinking that maybe it was all in my mind. About two to three weeks later my front end started shimmying and rumbling so I took it to a mechanic in Schaumburg that I use from time to time. His business is called Schaumburg Automedics. This was on 04/08/03. He called me at my work and asked me if someone had replaced the transmission recently. I told him yes, but why would that effect the front end? He said that whoever did the work had cut away a portion of the frame in order to get the transmission into the car. I asked him why they would do that if in fact it was a replacement transmission for my make and model of car. He stated that sometimes people have a tough time getting the unit in and go to drastic measures to make it fit.
Well I have to tell you I was more than a little upset to find this out. Furthermore he told me that the left control arm bolt assembly was loose and the bolt had marks on it that appeared as if someone had tried to remove it but couldnt. He stated that as near as he could figure someone tried to remove it to get the trans in and when they couldnt they resorted to cutting away a portion of the frame to make room to fit the trans in. In addition to cutting a portion of my frame away they neglected to weld it back together resulting in an open area where the frame was most definitely meant to be sealed. After all, he said, they do not put those welds down there for no reason.
Well it turned out that the control arm bolt was loose and frozen and thats why my front end was shimmying and also the reason I felt the distinctive CLICK when I turned the steering wheel. He replaced the bolt and aligned my front end and balanced my wheels, and welded the frame opening, and I went to pick up the car. I asked him what would have happened if I had let this go any longer and he said he couldnt tell me for sure that something drastic would have happened but that he wouldnt drive a car on the highway set up like that. He said that worse case the frame would start to separate at the next weld and the next until it failed all together. Especially in a northern climate where we are subjected to all kinds of salt and moisture up into the under carriage.
So on 04/09/03 I went back to the Armco shop in Schaumburg and told them that I was very unhappy and asked them if indeed they had cut my frame. To which they replied yes but they wanted to see it up on the rack for themselves. I asked them why they did it without telling me or asking me if it was ok with me to alter the structure of my car without my approval. All they could say was that they did it to accommodate the transmission. I said I didnt understand that because it was supposed to be a direct replacement. When I asked the manager why they didnt weld the frame opening back together I got no answer at all.
It was as if that was standard operating procedure at that facility. So I asked them for some monetary relief and was told that they would pay for my cost to have my frame welded back together. I told him that that wasnt going to be acceptable. In addition the manager offered to replace my frame. I informed him that this wasnt going to happen either, as I wasnt about to let someone back under my car who obviously had not taken the time to do the job correctly the first time.
At this time I have put a dispute on file with my credit card company for the amount of $2050.07. I feel that I wasnt informed of an alteration made to my vehicle that was obviously done in an unsafe manner with no regard to my safety, not to mention my wife or kids.
What would have happened had that frame failed while my car was loaded with my family and myself? What kind of liability would you have opened yourself up to in that situation? In addition I have to wonder what will happen when I do go to sell this car down the line and the mechanic at the dealer where I try to trade it in gets it up on the rack and sees this modification that has been made to my frame? Will they think the car has been in an accident and reduce the value of my trade in?
I do not have the answers for these questions but I do know this much---I feel betrayed and misled. I feel like I was not informed of what could have been a dangerous and possibly deadly situation in which I placed my family and myself. Most of all I feel I am due some sort of recourse in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you directly either in writing or preferably on the phone. I feel that a company with your reputation and standing in the business world would want to handle this as thoroughly and completely as I am sure most of your business is conducted. Thank you in advance for your attention and consideration of this matter.
ADDENDUM: After 3 weeks of front end shimmying I took my car to another repair place to find out what was wrong. It turns out that aamco never tightened the motor mounts and the engine shifted every time i accelerated. As of today they still will only offer me $200.00 to make me go away. Don Wise
cc: Illinois Attorney General
Better Business Bureau
Aamco Consumer Relations
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