My letter to WalMart

Don’t get me wrong, I much enjoy the low prices WalMart brings, but after a recent discovery, my affection for WalMart isn’t as warm and fuzzy as it used to be. Read the letter I will be sending to them. Any suggessions are welcome.

WalMart letter.doc (22.5 KB)

WalMart letter.doc (22.5 KB)

I love Walmart as a store, but I’ve also had a problem with their tire/auto center. When I had a new battery installed there they broke the strap on my car and didnt fasten down the new battery so it was just bouncing around and loosening the connections.

I have a similar tire story that happened back in 2001. Just be thankful your tire didn’t fall off while driving like ours did.

This damaged happened on the street I lived on while returning from getting the brakes/tire/something (I can’t remember) worked on.

I’m just going to say you should always check your lug nuts after getting your tires changed/worked on.

It has happened to my dad before at a local tire garage.

The day after he went into to get the tires worked on, one of the back wheels came off going down the road, luckily it didn’t do much damage.

Also next time anyone goes into a garage, always tell the technician that you want your lug nuts hand tightened and not with an air wrench.

They may either strip the lug nuts out, get the lug nuts so tight that you may never get them back off, or they may not get them tight enough.

I can feel you pain with this situation. I was driving the truck in the picture above when the tire came flying off. Luckily I was only doing about 10mph down our residental street. You would think that when you pay for a service such as this you can actually trust these “trained professionals” that do the work, but I’ve learned to always double check anything when it comes to cars just to make sure they didn’t forget to do something.

I’m not sure who exactly you sent this letter to, but from reading the letter it seems you just sent it to the GM of the store. I would consider going higher then that and trying to contact the corporate office. Chances are you’re letter will just get read and thrown away, if all you sent it to was the GM of the store. Also, I know in some situations (Sears from experience) that the auto center of a retail establishment is run by a completely different group of people and they mearly share a building with the retail side. So you may want to contact the manager of the auto side.

sanddrag, I would definitely send a copy of that letter to their legal department and customer service department at HQ. Youre doing them a huge favor, they’ll probably appreciate it. VERY GP.

team222badbrad, your advice is spot on. Overtightened lug nuts are bad, and even worse are unevenly tightened lug nuts, which cause the brake rotors and hubs to warp.

I ALWAYS loosen and retighten my lug nuts with a torque wrench after someone else touches them. Always. Then I verify the torque after 500 miles. Look in the owner’s manual, I am not aware of any manufacturer that does not recommend that.



I read the letter. Couple things.

If a wheel comes off your car usually the lug nuts come off one by one, and when there are only 1 or 2 left it makes a horrid knocking/banging sound as the wheel flops on the studs with each rotation. Unless you have your stereo at 120dB you could not possible miss it, and with any common sense you would slow down and stop immediately.

The pnuematic air tools they use in tire shops do have a torque setting - they are adjustable - so unless the main compressor was low on pressure there is nothing wrong with the proper use of an air wrench to put the wheels on.

You are assuming that Walmart left the lug nuts loose. That is a big assumption, esp after two or three days. Someone may have been in the process of stealing your wheel and was interrupted or scared off. A lot can happen in 3 days.

Bottom line though, finding a good mechanic you can trust 100% of the time is important. I would not put any department store on the list of places to look for a good mechanic.

The likelihood that someone would want to steal my wheels is very slim. They are pretty oxidized and not anything fancy. Also, I have a keyed lug nut on each, so a theif would probably go for an easier target.

I go to WalMart for tire rotation because it is free since I bought my tires there (which I am actually pretty pleased with). I usually check right after, for some reason this time I didn’t. I have had a the same situation when I had work done at the dealer before. So it can really happen anywhere you go. And I think the above picture proves the point that you might not hear it coming.

good question - when the wheel came off that truck did the driver have any warning? did it make a racket and he ignored it?

My son forgot to tighten the lug nuts on his Fiero a few years ago, was going about 25 on a side street, he said it sounded like someone was hitting the frame of the car with a sledge hammer.

the point is, dont get yourself too freaked out over this. Usaully when something goes seriously wrong with your car (for whatever reason) you will have some warning before it goes from bad to worse.

No warning…just thud and then screeching. It happened about 3 minutes after getting it back from the mechanic and was only about 1/2 a mile away so I figure they probably just forgot to put the lugnuts back on, because we never found all of them…

Same thing happened to a few of my friends. They were driving back from school (going about 65 mph down a highway) when all of a sudden they heard a THUD SCREEEEECH - the entire wheel fell off. No rattling, no thumping - no warning at all. It just happened.

The two only WalMart autoshop experiences I’ve had were bad. First, my dad bought two new tires for my car. It says, in the contract, the tech was supposed put the tires on, balance it, etc etc. About a month after I got the new tires, a friend (DJ, actually) was driving my car and parked on the street outsied of a friend’s house. He lightly bumped the curb and the whole sidewall of that tire tore. It turned out the tech didn’t balance the tires at all, and the whole right side of the ripped one was completely bald.

Before that, I’d gotten an oil change at WalMart. On the way home - all of a mile - the car sounded just awful. When I got home, I thought, “Man, sounds like it does when it’s low on oil!” I checked the dipstick and sure enough - they’d forgotten to put oil in my car. :mad:

Oddly enough, the other day I was unloading groceries from Mom’s car (who recently had a tire rotation), and I looked at the back passenger tire. Sure enough, it was down to three lugnuts.

Whether it was missing or just wiggled loose, it was fixed (with the other 15 double-checked) in five minutes.

Ever hear the syaing you get what you pay for??
It’s true 99.9% of the time.
And this time was no exception.

I agree with others in this post, always double check other people’s work, and if you don’t want to, then you are partly in fault.

Bottom line. When your car leaves your hands, you have no idea what is happening to it.
Check it for yourself when you get it back to be sure it’s not worse than when you left it with them.

And what might they do if they strip a lug nut? Replace 'em without telling you–using a DIFFERENT SIZE than the original! Months later, a different mechanic tells you that your car has different size lug nuts for the same wheel. Now you have to carry 2 tire irons instead of just one. Any chance the first shop will replace the lug nut with the correct size? We’re talking about a well-known tire shop here, not a department or discount store. :frowning:

It is common practice for tire dealers to offer free rotation on tires they sell. It’s an added bonus for them, cause it gives them an opportunity to do other work on your car. (Oil change, alignment, etc.) The local Goodyear shop has been rotating tires on my vehicles for the past 20 years. Never a problem, never a loose or missing lugnut, and always free of charge.

Just because someone offers a free service with your purchase doesn’t automatically make it poor quality. Poor quality doesn’t start with the technician who put the tires back onto your automobile. It started much higher in the chain of command.

On the Good Year note - did you pay MORE than going to Wal-Mart for your tires? :confused:


Now here is where some may not like what I say - but it’s the truth from my point of view being in automechanics my whole life (Father is an auto-mechanic and as am I)

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Ask Wal-Mart how quick their turn-over rate is. I’ll never be caught dead working for a Wal-Mart due to their quite piss-poor pay. You get kids fresh out of school that may be BOOK SMART - but that is only about 10% of what applies to automechanics. You have to be out in the field wrenching under a Vet for 3 years IMHO to get to the point where you can be on your own. Books tell you how things work, the shop shows you how to fix things when broken.

Also - same goes for the quickie oil changes place. Sure - most of them hire kids at 6-7/hr for dealing with scalding hot oil/metal parts in a hurried fashon. Ever see somone over 30 working for a place like that? Not around here…

Before you bash please realise where you are going. It doesn’t start up higher in the chain - the jobs goes to the lowest priced person in thoes cases. PERIOD. Talk to other people that pay a little more at a mom-n-pop shop and they will tell you that they are overall 99.9% (if not 100%) happy with their choices.

Agian - in the automechanics field - you pay for experience/knowlege/speed. Any place that offers an oil change at 9.99 is a shop that is 1. hurting for business or 2. hires the local kids out of school.

Since I never have priced tires at WalMart, I honestly don’t know. Goodyear is probably about average price here, cheaper than some, but more than others. Bottom line is, I have a good, trusted mechanic for services/products. If he is a couple of bucks more than someone down the street, I really don’t care. I know that his prices are within the window of reasonability for the work that he does, and that the people working on my vehicles are truly ASE certified.

Sometimes, when you pay for the added quality, you get the satisfaction of not having to write letters! :rolleyes:

Agreed on that note - but on another note that has kinda bothered me after reading it earlier, the ASE certifications are just book smarts - as well as State Certifications (In Michigan you have to be STATE certified to work on a vehicle)

Some people that I know are ASE certified out of a dealership and can’t fix squat - while there are people that can’t take the test due to them not being ‘book smart’ but can fix anything 100% in the fastest time i’ve ever seen!! (Can you say a whole 2001 Ford Focus Clutch done in 1.5 hours :eek:)

grr, it took me and my dad almost 4 hrs. to do the clutch in his jeep altho we did have to make a few parts

but for getting your tires rotated at cheep places like that it is probably something you could do yourself, all you need is a jack and a torque wrench(i think everyone here can opperate both of those)

there are of course parts of the car and different common maintanance tasks that need a pro so you should find a GOOD mechanic that can do the job right and will take the time to make sure no mistakes were made, this will often cost more since these guys are in high demand

Also a note on why mechanics often rush:
1)They get paid by commission based on the number of hours it should take to do a job
2)If they finish earky they get paid the same and they get another job to work on and then more money from that.
3)If it takes longer than the time in #1 then they still dont get any extra pay

This is one of the main reasons why my dad quit the auto mechanic industry, simply put taking his time and doing it right was not making enough