KPRC 2 Investigates: SUV left at dealership for first oil change totaled; Owner told dealership not responsible, so who is?

One Tomball woman called KPRC 2 Investigator Amy Davis after she said a car dealership mechanic wrecked her vehicle and is refusing to take responsibility.
One Tomball woman called KPRC 2 Investigator Amy Davis after she said a car dealership mechanic wrecked her vehicle and is refusing to take responsibility.

When you take your car to the repair shop, you expect to pick it up in better shape, not worse. One Tomball woman called KPRC 2 Investigator Amy Davis after she said a car dealership mechanic wrecked her vehicle and is refusing to take responsibility.

Mechanic driving, SUV ends up wrecked

Tiffany Walker was so happy and proud of her brand new 2020 Ford Escape when she bought it in December. It looked perfectly fine when she dropped it off at Tomball Ford for the first oil change and some warranty work. But when she saw it again, the vehicle was a total loss.

“I was shocked,” said Walker. “I couldn’t believe it. And then I immediately became angry.”

Walker said Tomball Ford employees were defensive, telling her while their mechanic was driving the vehicle during some repairs another driver failed to yield the right of way. That driver turned in front of the mechanic causing him to hit her vehicle. The police report supports that and assigns all blame to the other driver.

Insurance Company claims both drivers have a fault in accident

The dealership is adamant the other driver’s insurance, Allstate, should pay for the damage. But Allstate says its client is only 70% liable. Allstate believes Tomball Ford’s mechanic is 30% responsible, claiming he could have avoided hitting the other driver but was likely speeding or distracted.

“The dealership just instructed me that I needed to be in contact with Allstate, which is the other party’s insurance, and that they were not going to help with any of that part of this and they would not claim it on their own (insurance),” said Walker.

Michael James, Walker’s attorney, said “I would just think, from a customer service standpoint, we try to be as helpful as possible, and getting whatever the issue was resolved.”

Tomball Ford did provide Walker with a rental car for three weeks. But when they asked her to turn it in, they were still battling Allstate, leaving Walker with no vehicle, no down payment, no settlement money and a car loan she still has to pay.

“I thought it was garbage,” said Walker. “It’s just not right. I was at home working. I wasn’t even in my vehicle when it was wrecked.”

What happens if a mechanic messes up a vehicle while in the shop?

“She’s not liable at all because she wasn’t driving the car,” said attorney Ryan Marquez, with the University of Houston Center for Consumer Law.

Marquez said while it doesn’t seem fair, Walker’s best option might be to file with her own insurance, get her money and let them go after Tomball Ford.

“Even though it’s hard to have that type of claim on your policy, that actually might be less headache and less stress than trying to fight this out another way,” Marquez explained.

This is not a cut-and-dry case. Texas has what’s called proportional liability. That lets insurance companies assign liability to each driver involved in an accident. Tomball Ford’s general manager wouldn’t talk with Davis on camera but he told her it is an unfortunate incident but the dealership is absolutely not at fault.


About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.