- Report: #1095173
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Complaint Review: America's Transmission
America's Transmission1718 Fry Road Katy , Texas USA
America's Transmission Tomas Automotive Group thomas Katy Texas
2002 BMW 325 (130k miles) Documented Transmission Repair Problems.
Fri 10/4: Car started driving doggedly, when returning to hotel from work. Red Cog of Death was displayed on instrument cluster, and car would surge/drag. Later learned the car had most likely entered Slip Mode to prevent transmission damage. I rented car from Enterprise on Bay Area Blvd, which was just across the street from where I had broken down. I had the bimmer towed to Advantage BMW.
Mon 10/7: Advantage could not get the car to act up, so I came to pick up – no charge. Acted up within 1mile of Advantage, and Red Cog appeared. I went back to Advantage and they had a service tech drive with me – Cog did not reappear. Based on my explanation of the symptoms, he immediately diagnosed transmission – even though he did no technical troubleshooting. Advantage gave me a quick estimate of $8k for a new transmission, and they were going to look around for a used one. That night, I looked on-line for Houston transmission shops.
Tue 10/8: I called America’s Transmission (owner: Salvator Ruiz). He gave me some cost ideas: best-case: new fluid and filter change - $75; and worst-case: transmission rebuild - $2500. This looked pretty attractive, because it was much less expensive than the guesstimate Advantage game me. He gave me a lot of confidence that he could do the job – he talked a good game.
Wed 10/9: Advantage provided two formal estimates: New BMW transmission - $8000; and used (transmission with 89k miles on it) - $3700. I picked up the car, and scheduled with America’s. Their website claims free loaner and free towing. America’s seemed like the best option. I rode along with the tow, and when we arrived in Katy, TX (at America’s) I noticed the lobby area was a little disorganized, not terribly clean, and in-need of updates (e.g. – it was kind of a dump). They scheduled a rental (I found out they did not own any loaners – which surprised me, because their website claimed it) at Toyota Rent-a-Car, who did not have any compact cars; so I had to upgrade in class ($52.67 was rental cost for one day) – I had no choice. I soon learned I had to rent the car on my credit card, which was unfortunate because I could have used AAA and paid $30/day. I found out later America’s would only fund $30/day. Oh well, I was still thinking $2500 was way-better than a used transmission for $3700.
Thur 10/10: Advantage disassembled transmission to provide an estimate, and the $2500 rebuild estimate had ballooned to $5000 because some of the worn transmission components were not part of a “rebuild kit”. Again, I believed him and my ignorance got the better of me. However, they did send me photos upon request, which eased my suspicions. By now, I was starting to feel trapped, because I had a car with a disassembled transmission. He gave me the impression this was still a better option than buying a used transmission with high miles. I hemmed and hawed, but agreed to the repair. I was again starting to feel uncomfortable. Also, I drove back to Katy to return the car to Toyota (60 mile drive from my hotel in Texas City to Katy), so I could pick up a more-reasonably priced car from Hertz. Days went by as they were “troubleshooting”.
Mon (10/14) –Wed (10/16): Sometime during this week, America’s asked for a 50% down payment for the repair. This came out of the blue, because I thought they were already doing the repair. Sal agreed to keep working on the car while I secured the funds. Again – suspicion. However, the request for 50% down was not unreasonable. After I provided the credit card information, I received a receipt and formal quote. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the details of the quote, because we had already talked about what he was doing to the car.
Thur 10/17: Returned rental car to (HOU) Hobby Airport Hertz – cost was $223.63. I wasn’t really concerned, because America’s website said Free Loaner. I thought I would be reimbursed once repair was completed. I flew home to MSP from HOU. I had the impression America’s had run into some problems, but I was still confident they would successfully repair the car for $5k. Sal really talks a great game – he was supremely able to give me answers off-the-cuff that seemed technically reasonable.
Sun 10/20: This time I got a rental car at Enterprise, and used points. The total rental period was 5days – I used 5250 points; which was equivalent to $245.70 of equivalent rental cost. Again, I thought I would end up making out on the deal, because America’s would be paying me $30/day – this would offset the additional I had to pay for the Toyota rental.
Mon 10/21: I read the quote and learned he was crediting me $100 for rental cost and $100 for a website coupon. Ugh – feeling paralyzed by the lack of disclosure and added feeling of entrapment!
Tue (10/22) –Wed (10/23): I continue having daily conversations with Sal, and his delays are ever more agonizing, as I come to the realization he may not know what he’s doing. The delays were chalked up to things like “they sent the wrong part”. He informed me the Red Cog is still coming up intermittently, but the car drives well and it’s probably a computer issue. He quoted me a new Transmission Control Module repair for $1100. In the meantime, he was going to “try some things” on the TCM – like removing it, blowing it off with compressed air, using contact cleaner on the connectors, and potentially reprogramming it – he said he was suspicious about moisture, because of the climate it was in. This seemed technically reasonable, but I’m still getting more uncomfortable. I told him I was an electrical engineer, and he said he was willing to share with me how to program the TCM if I needed to replace it – he would demo this when I came in to pick up the car.
Thu 10/24: He said it was finally finished, but wanted to do a couple more test drives throughout the day. Since I would be fighting rush hour traffic, we agreed I’d pick it up on Friday.
Fri 10/25: Before I picked up the car, I called and Sal said the car was driving well, and the red cog hadn’t returned. I scheduled to pick it up at 11am, as he was leaving at noon for a weekend camping trip with his family and I wanted time to talk about the repair. When I arrived he was “back in the shop” – an area where customers were not allowed into. When he came to the lobby, he was being distracted by phone calls, completing paperwork, etc. and I didn’t get much time to speak with him. He was rushing to get out the door, and said he would have Oscar (technician who I quickly learned is barely fluent in English) demonstrate the reprogramming of the TCM if I needed to replace it. When I raised the topic of “Free Loaner”, he agreed to reduce my bill by $100 – BTW, I had paid ~$530 for rentals during the weeks and $80 in gas costs. At this point, I was happy to accept anything! As it turned out, Oscar knew the battery was in the trunk, but I had to point out where in the trunk. Also, he didn’t know where the TCM was under the hood, and nothing looked disturbed under-the-hood – did they even doing anything to the TCM or was this just another ruse? Interacting with Oscar was a complete waste of time! Since Sal was gone I saw no point in continuing with the Oscar charade. And, I wanted to get back on the road, as my 90-ish min drive was waiting through Houston rush hour traffic. The first thing I noticed when I got in the car was a lot of debris on the floor mat, and the aroma of oil. The steering wheel had remnants of oil, and the windshield had fingerprints on the outside. I spent $5000 for a repair, and now have to clean up after the transmission shop? I guess I’ll have to suck up another $150 for detailing, on top of everything else. :-(
Here are the problems/issues:
1) The first thing I noticed was the “service engine soon” icon was illuminated. Sal had told me there were a couple codes he saw related to O2 sensors, so I thought maybe that was the reason. However, this icon was not lit when I brought the car in! And, other than the transmission problem, the car was running well.
2) Also, I noticed the trip odometer, radio stations, and clock were not reset out – I had expected the battery power would have been pulled before the TCM was worked on. If not, there is a risk of damaging the electronics.
3) When I started driving, I noticed a stiffness of the steering wheel – as if the power steering wasn’t functioning properly.
4) The car seemed to drive differently than what I had remembered, and I attributed it to driving rental cars for the past couple weeks – again, not trying to indict anything that America’s had done.
5) I witnessed a couple rattling/rumbling incidents – like when an exhaust system is failing, or not properly seated/sealed.
6) By the time I got on the freeway, I could really tell something was terribly wrong. The car had no pep, and still shifted erratically.
7) I drove past the first couple exits, hoping the car just needed to get some miles on it to overcome some of the doggedness.
8) When things did not improve, and the car almost died a couple times, I drove with flashers on and pulled off the freeway. By the time I found a place to park, the car stopped running entirely. It would fire, but not run. BTW, the gas gauge was at ½.
9) The same tow truck driver (that had towed the car to America’s two weeks earlier) picked me up. He worked for a 3rd party towing company, which had several accounts including America’s – he mainly worked on the west side of Houston. We talked about America’s and he said every time he brought cars to America’s he saw new BMW’s in for repair, and he thinks one of the techs owns a BMW. He also thought their BMW expert had his own section of the shop to work in. I am so confused by the stories that conflict with the reality of what I experienced!
10) The office attendant scheduled a rental car from Toyota, and gave me a check to pay for it for 3days for $100, because she felt bad for me. Again, why wouldn’t a business have an account with a rental car company- she said they had issues in the past where customers would not return the rental – or some such thing? At the least, they should have an emergency process that kicks in where they would have access to funds for situations such as this? BTW, $100 did not cover a 3day rental – it was ~$115. So again, I had to dig into my pockets.
Mon 10/28: They sent the car to Auto Care USA in Katy to get it diagnosed, which is suprising because they’re supposed to be a repair shop. America’s is now saying the fuel pump is bad. I did some online research and discovered America’s is not a member of the BBB, and has 31 claims logged against them. It’s clear they’re charlatans. I contacted visa to file a dispute for services paid for, that were not provided. I will absorb the out-of-pocket rental car costs, but am disputing the 10/25, $2385.11 charge; and 10/16, $2500 charge.
Tue 10/29: I'm having the car towed to another shop. And, may fight this in small claims court. I pity his children - imagine what they're being taught?
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/28/2013 01:37 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Americas-Transmission/Katy-Texas/Americas-Transmission-Tomas-Automotive-Group-thomas-Katy-Texas-1095173. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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