I had my brakes done by the Pep Boys in Mableton, Georgia on April 21, 2011, in which my brakes and rotors were replaced. On October 31, 2012, I was traveling back to Georgia from Columbus, Ohio; when the brakes on my SUV’s front drivers-side wheel (Toyota 1999 4-Runner - Limited) failed as I was exiting the interstate to get gas in Lebanon, Ohio. Approximately halfway up the ramp my vehicle suddenly went out of control and it was slammed up against the interstate stop sign at the end of the ramp. I was knocked unconscious when my head and body was slammed into the door and roof of the interior of my vehicle. When I regain consciousness, my vehicle had somehow landed 50’ to 60’ on the other side of the stop sign, and on the shoulder of the highway going the opposite direction. [continued below]....
..... Although I thought I had hit an ice patch, the state trooper informed me that the temperature was well above 40 degrees, so there was “no ice.” None of this was making any sense to me - but since there was no ice on the ground, the trooper felt I should have been able to control my vehicle and I received a $200 traffic ticket.
My vehicle was damaged on the drivers’ side, and the 2 tires were flat; so my car was towed to nearest collision center and kept overnight to repair the tires and to determine if my vehicle could be made road ready so I could drive it back to Atlanta the next day. They discovered that my driver's side front wheel ball joint had to be replaced. Upon replacing the ball joint the mechanic noticed that the brake shoes were missing the Cotter-clip, with one Cotter-pin missing and the other was halfway out. I asked if this could have caused the accident, and the mechanic said, "It should have caused a mess." Then I asked the mechanic if the accident could have caused the Cotter-clip to come off or out of the pins, and he didn't see how it was possible, besides there was no damage to the brake shoes itself. He advised me to contact whoever performed my brake work as soon as I returned to Georgia.
Due to fear and the fact that I was feeling light-headed and a little confused during the entire drive back, it took me 2 days to get back home to Mableton, GA. I didn’t have medical insurance, so I couldn’t get medical attention in Ohio. And, because I only had liability insurance on my vehicle, I had to travel back to Georgia with the body damage; as well as the fear that maybe the other brakes were defected as well. I actually had to drive slowly with my hazard lights on the majority of the way, especially when driving through Kentucky and the winding mountains of Tennessee.
As soon as I arrived back to Mableton I took my vehicle directly to my Toyota dealership, so they could inspect my wheels, the body damage, and to determined if there was more operational damage. I had to leave my car there for almost 2 weeks, and obtain a rental car during this time. I was eventually forced to go to the emergency room when the pain in my arm/shoulder and headaches were getting worse, and my vision became affected. Since then I have incurred a tremendous amount of expenses, with medical bills, repairs to my vehicle, car rentals and many other related expenses and inconveniences. I was left with a concussion, and I had to temporarily go on an antidepressant to relieve my anxiety about getting back on the interstate in time for the Thanksgiving holidays. I suffered an injury to my left shoulder when my side was slammed into the drivers’ side door. Even though I did receive a Cortisone shot, my shoulder and arm continues to cause me pain; especially at night, in which there is no sleeping on the left side of my body. And if I rollover on my left side while sleeping, I wake up in the morning in great pain.
This accident has affected my life in so many ways, and Pep Boys is liable and this could have cost me my life. I have had to pay for all of this out of my pocket, which means I had to drain "more" money out of my 401K, since I am unemployed after being laid-off from my job over three years ago. Obviously Pep Boys is not responsible for my job situation, but this would be divesting to anyone fully employed.
I first made contact with Pep Boys offices on November 2, 2012 after the 2 days of travel it took me to get back to Georgia. I was given the runaround, and pushed off to one person after another – after another. I have been a Pep Boys customer since 1997 or longer, and I was treated like some dumb women who’s just casting blame, or who somehow created this event. I realize there was 18 months between the brake work and the accident, but no one has touched or removed that wheel or tire within that time - If so, I would have contacted them. In the expert’s statement that I have attached, he explains how it is possible for the pins to have gradually worked themselves out that length of time. Also, whenever I have taken my vehicle in for maintenance or repairs with any shop, my VIN# is always recorded and there would be a record of any work I would have had done.
This should not be brushed off and treated so casually, I could have lost my life at that busy intersection at the top of that ramp; where 18-wheelers and semis travel through very frequently. It could have been “a mess” - It could have affected more peoples lives then my own! If a Cotter-clip is not installed properly or not placed at all, how many lives would suffer needlessly. Unfortunately, I will never feel comfortable having my vehicle serviced at Pep Boys or refer anyone to you again. I am so disillusioned by this experience, that I am concerned I will always find it necessary to inspect any brake service I have done in the future - no matter where I go.