First, let me say that I don’t think it’s just the fact that they’re one of those big one-stop car places. I grew up in the Northwest and used Les Schwab during high school, college and while in Idaho. I was always happy with tires I bought there, as well as any other work they did on my car (brakes/alignment/etc). I first went to Pep Boys when I moved to Princeton. And many of you may remember when my friend Amy and I were driving down to Florida from Princeton and my car broke down and needed a new alternator – it was 9pm and Pep Boys stayed open for me and replaced the alternator. So, I was very appreciative for that. So appreciative that I even tipped the guys an extra $100 for staying open late.
But…then that same alternator needed to be replaced again not more than 6 months after it had been installed.
And then the current saga. Sarah’s car got new brakes put on at Pep Boys (the Piedmont store in Atlanta, GA) back in August of ’05. A year later, they needed to be replaced. So we went to the same store and got new brakes again. The brakes were fine, but after a few days, the car had a very high-pitched squeaking noise. We took it back a few months later and asked them to fix it and they did “fix it.” But a few days later, the noise was back, and now our brakes made a grinding noise. So we took it back, they said the “fixed it” – both times they said the rotors just needed to be resurfaced. But then a few weeks later the noise was back again. So we just took it back in a few days ago. We’re in the process of selling Sarah’s car and it is in great condition except for this squeak – so we really wanted to get it taken care of properly. We dropped it off for the whole day and finally picked it up yesterday and again “it was all fixed.” They told me they took apart the brake system and cleaned it numerous times and the squeaking noise was now finally gone.
And it was..for the first 10 minutes of driving. And then it came back. Picture Adam extremely frustrated right now. So we decided to take it to another Pep Boys (the Stone Mountain store in Stone Mountain, GA) since it was still under warranty and we didn’t want to take it to another mechanic and have to put any more money into the car. We dropped it off around noon yesterday and didn’t hear back for quite awhile. I finally called and talked to someone who said she’d call me back in 30 minutes. A few hours later, I finally called back. Around 7.30pm, I talked to someone and they said, “We can’t find anything wrong with it – the parts are all new – and there isn’t a squeak.”
No way. So I said, “I drove 20 minutes to your store and it squeaked LOUDLY the entire time. Can you please have someone else drive it and check it out again?” This was the smartest thing I said all day yesterday. Around 8.30pm I received another phone call and they said they found the problem, but a certain bolt broke off during their work, so they’d have to call me in the morning. Well, at least the problem was fixed.
I just got off the phone with the store manager, and I can’t believe what he told me. He said that, believe it or not, he doesn’t think our rotors have been resurfaced in quite awhile. This is extremely hilarious because that’s what the Piedmont Pep Boys said they did each time. He said that the caliper bolt(?) just broke off last night, because it had been jammed back into place by whoever last worked on it. From what he could tell, whoever worked on the car tried to get it off to resurface the rotors, couldn’t get it off, and then just jammed it back into place. The rotors have not been resurfaced – and the other Pep Boys have been straight up lying to us. He was able to get the last caliper bolt assembly kit in Atlanta and we will probably have the car back today – and he is going to bill the other Pep Boys store for the parts & labor.
I’m glad I pushed them and pushed them – the store manager said that they passed the car off to their most meticulous mechanic after I asked again last night and he was the one who found the problem. I’m glad I did that – but I shouldn’t have to. I’m glad that they are paying for the work done today and for these parts – but the problem was caused by Pep Boys to begin with. I know that not all local mechanics are great – but I know that I’m done with Pep Boys and that I want to try and find an independent, local mechanic for future car work. There was one guy who worked on all our cars growing up, and I like that. I like knowing the person who works on your cars.
What about everyone else? Local mechanic? One-stop car store? Only the dealer? What are your preferences?