Lakewood, California

On the afternoon of March 18th I brought my 2001 Ford Ranger into the Pep Boys repair shop located at 5453 E. Del Amo Blvd. Lakewood, CA. 90712. I explained to the service attendant that I had a small coolant leak that appeared to be coming from the lower radiator hose and would like it inspected. I left my vehicle overnight as the shop was closing soon. The following day I received two phone calls from the store manager Vic, the first was to inform me that the leak was coming from the water pump and not the radiator hose, the second was to inform me of a second leak coming from the timing cover gasket. On both calls Vic explained the price and time required to perform the work, which I agree to, and let me know the vehicle would be ready at the end of the day. I showed up at the shop that afternoon just before the shop closed and my vehicle was not ready, discussing the status and inspecting my vehicle it was observed that the water pump had been removed but not the timing cover.

On the afternoon of March 20th I arrived at the shop and met the store manager Vic at the counter who explained to me that my vehicle was repaired as we discussed and charged me $805 for the work. I paid the bill was handed my keys and left the store. Prior to entering my vehicle I opened the hood to inspect and noticed a cover for the throttle linkage was sitting on the window washer reservoir and that the coolant overflow reservoir lid was off. I looked in the overflow reservoir and it was empty, I then opened the radiator cap and could not see a water level so I returned to the store and asked Vic to come inspect the vehicle with me. When I showed Vic my observations he started complaining about the mechanic who performed the work and had another mechanic come out to add coolant (1 ½ gallons) and reattach the throttle cover. After the mechanic poured in the first bottle of coolant and was starting to pour in the second I raised the question about a water mixture and was told straight coolant was fine. I told him that I heard straight coolant is not as good with heat transfer as water and that vehicles sometimes may overheat if straight coolant is used, he again told me it would be fine.

On the drive home which is only ½ mile, the power steering was squealing so I returned to the store immediately and asked Vic to make another inspection. I opened the reservoir and noted the level was very low, and questioned Vic if the power steering pump was disconnected or just moved out of the way and fluid might have been spilled. Vic explained to me the power steering was not touched during the repairs but he would top the fluid off and left to instruct the mechanic to fill the reservoir. Now is where I became very concerned about my vehicles service because the power steering pump bracket appeared to be clearly in the way of the timing cover.

While waiting for the mechanic to return with the fluid I inspected more closely and noted brake fluid and heater hose brackets had not been reattached. I asked Vic to take a look at this and he instructed the mechanic to pull the vehicle in the shop and put in on the lift for closer inspection. Vic proceeded to call someone on his cell phone and was yelling at the person he called. With the vehicle raised I found two power steering bracket bolts were unthreaded about ½ inch and there was oil leaking from the oil pan gasket where it attaches to the lower side of the timing cover. Now being very upset I yelled at Vic to come over and look at these two other issues. He told me he had just called the mechanic and suspended him for poor job performance. I told him that does not satisfy me as my vehicle has not been properly repaired and I hold him responsible. Showing him the two loose bolts on the power steering bracket, he insisted it was not removed and that he inspects every vehicle and would know if it had been. I asked if he expected every vehicle the why did he not know mine was low or empty on coolant? I then showed him the oil pan leak and he said they did not remove the oil pan so that gasket was not touched. I had to show Vic how the oil pan gasket contacts the timing cover and that once the timing cover is removed the oil pan gasket in that area needs to be cleaned and have sealant applied. Vic asked me to leave my vehicle and he would make all the necessary repairs as well as replace the oil pan gasket. Again, I was very upset that I had to go another day without my vehicle and that as the store manager I hold him responsible, I told him I thought he was incompetent for not being able to recognize the power steering pump had to be removed and the need to seal the oil pan gasket area. I left my vehicle to be repaired.

I returned to the shop @ 4:30 on the 21st and found my vehicle parked in the parking lot. I went in the store and asked Vic the status and he informed me the oil pan gasket had to be ordered and that it would not be in until tomorrow. He then showed me on the computer that he ordered it and the amount of labor required to perform the job. I asked him where he gets the labor hours from and he said his computer is linked with the manufacture and that is their labor times. I then asked when the job is given to the mechanic how does he know where to start, is there instructions or a manual used for making repairs. Vic explained the All-data software and showed me the computer in the shop that is used. I asked him to look up my vehicle for the timing cover removal and he did and started reading down the steps required to remove the cover. When he got the step that read remove oil pan I immediately stopped him and questioned this to which he explained that is not required the mechanics know how to do this job and removing the oil pan is not required. He explained that he was going to replace the gasket tomorrow when it arrives and call me when my vehicle is ready. I again told him how incompetent I thought and left.

On March 22nd Vic called me to tell me they were in the process of changing my oil pan gasket and that while the transmission was out he was going to replace the rear main seal as well and would call me later in the day when the work was complete. A second call came late that afternoon letting me know my vehicle was ready and Vic probably would be gone when I arrive to pick it up. I drove the vehicle home and parked it in the driveway where it remained all day on the 23rd. Late that day I inspected the vehicle to make sure it looked safe to drive to work the next day and everything looked ok except for a small oil leak coming from the rear of the engine, I was hopeful the oil was just residual left over from the all the work that was done but it is sill leaking a week later.

How do I get my vehicle properly fixed? How can I be certain the original work that was performed will last as there are nuts and bolts hidden that can’t be checked for tightness? Are all Pep Boys service shops operated this way? What if I had not inspected my vehicle when I first picked it up where there was no coolant, would Pep Boys have covered any additional damages? This is the first time I have taken a vehicle for repair to a Pep Boys and definitely will never do it again! I am out $805 for repairs I’m not convinced were needed given the incompetency at this location how can anyone be certain their initial diagnosis was correct?

Product or Service Mentioned: Pep Boys Oil Change.

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