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Towing destroyed my transmission - help?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 jimschroder

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 01:31 PM

Hey folks,
I have a destroyed transmission which will cost around $2,300 to fix.
The Subaru mech/dealer says it's from improper towing.
The Towing Company says it's mechanical default that should be under warranty.

Can any of you comment on the exact nature of damage to an AWD manual Outback 2000 caused by towing with 2 wheels down? Can you comment on how long I could expect to drive the car before it became obviously crippled (it's been 6 wks and the tow company says if it was their fault I would have had issues sooner)? Can any of you comment on how obvious damage due to towing is (like is this kind of damage caused by anything else?)?

I really can't afford to pay for this repair, so please help me go after the towers!
thanks.

Jim

#2 Setright

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 01:53 PM

The towing company better foot the bill.

Did you tell them it was AWD? Most experienced tow truck drivers know that Subaru's are often AWD/4WD, and usually ask you.

The silicone oil in the center diff has been overheated and therefore lost it's viscosity. The damage can take a while to show up. Six weeks is within that while.
The main problem is discovering the damage, which can be hard during normal driving. You need to race away from standstill in the rain, and get lots of front wheelspin to find out.

The Subaru main website has a guide for towing and the related problems.

#3 Snowman

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 01:55 PM

I had a coworker do the same thing. AWD subarus CANNOT be towed with one axle on the ground without damaging the transmission. I'll try to find out some specifics and get back to you.


That sucks:banghead: .

#4 Setright

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 01:55 PM

http://www.subaru.co...p?pageID=towing

#5 Setright

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 01:57 PM

Quote from emisions testing:ยจ

Some Subaru AWD owners have contacted Subaru of America, Inc. and their authorized Subaru dealers seeking warranty reimbursement for transmission damage caused by two-wheel dynamometer testing. These owners reported no driveability problems prior to state-enhanced emission testing, but sought repair for driveability symptoms (vibrations, noise on turns, etc.) within 100 miles after the improperly performed two-wheel dynamometer test. The Subaru Emissions Defect and Performance Warranties, which cover defects in your vehicle's materials and workmanship, do not cover damage resulting from improper testing

#6 The Dude

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 02:28 PM

There is no question that towing a AWD MT Subaru by two wheels will cause damage. Indeed, it would be extremely unlikely that damage did not occur.
Sounds like the towing company screwed up, big time. Unfortunately, the odds are that they going to try to screw you, big time, as well. See if you can get a letter form the Subaru dealer that the damage to the transmission IS CONSISTANT with damage that one would see from improper towing. Press the towing company for immediate and full payment for the necessary repairs.
Chances are, they will DENY and DELAY. Don't screw with them. File a complaint in small claims court, and have them served. NOW there's deadline for these guys, because there's a court date. And, they know you mean business.
Don't let this thing drag on and on. A library, or maybe even the state ABA, will have all the information you need on small cliams courts in Connecticut.

#7 Soobadooba

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 03:05 PM

This is not just true of only Subarus. I cannot think of any AWD car that wouldn't be damaged by this type of towing. Any competant towing company/operator would know this and would have sent a flatbed.

#8 coloradosubarules

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:07 PM

Sue the towing company. It is their job to know about the car they are towing. They wouldn't tow a large, rear-wheel drive truck without removing the driveshaft first. They should have inspected the vehicle and saw (or asked) if it was AWD and then proceeded to do it the right way. If they used the wheel lift then they should have used wheel dollys for the rear (or front depending on how it was towed). I used to drive a tow truck so I know alot about this subject. It was ignorance that distroyed your tranny...not a mechanical malfunction. Take them to court. It doesn't matter that they out it in nuetral....the shaft still spins because there is no TC nuetral.


Hope this helps.

#9 jimschroder

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:57 PM

thanks for your commentary. To answer a few q's - I wasn't there when the car was towed (or I would have moved it out of the wrong parking space myself). The towing company so far isn't responding to my allegations. I will take them to small claims court.

So the question isn't should it be towed on a flatbed, but exactly what is the nature of damage done by towing it two wheeled (so that I can best show the tow company that my current problems are clearly a result of improper towing and thus that they owe me big time).

again, thanks.

#10 Setright

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 01:05 AM

Is it auto or manual?

#11 The Dude

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 08:18 AM

thanks for your commentary. To answer a few q's - I wasn't there when the car was towed (or I would have moved it out of the wrong parking space myself). The towing company so far isn't responding to my allegations. I will take them to small claims court.

So the question isn't should it be towed on a flatbed, but exactly what is the nature of damage done by towing it two wheeled (so that I can best show the tow company that my current problems are clearly a result of improper towing and thus that they owe me big time).

again, thanks.


Jim, I would solicit this information from SOA, a SOA dealer, or a shop that specializes in servicing Subarus. Their opinion be should in writing. They do not have to say definitively that towing caused the damage, only that the damage to your transmission is consistant with damage normally found as a result of improper towing. My first choice would be a letter from a SOA dealership.
OK, now you a letter from a qualified source attesting to the nature and probable cause of the damage. I'm assuming that you have an admission from the towing company that the car was towed on two wheels.
Reseach filing in small claims court. You need to know what your are doing.

I had a repair shop try to screw me on a replacement engine. I got no where with the guy until I had him served. Then he siced his lawyer on me. Big deal, I had all the evidence and documentation necessary to win my case. They denied, delayed, and had the court date postponed. In the end they caved, and I got a new engine. I made a point of filing in the small claims court that was in the same district as the repair shop. The repair shop had no case, was basically stiffing me, and I wanted the judge to see just what a piece of work this company was. I wanted the judge to have this repair shop pegged as a bad apple, and make it even easier in court for the next guy the shop screwed. Anyway, sometimes the system does work.

#12 jimschroder

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 11:35 AM

Is it auto or manual?


It's a manual.

#13 coloradosubarules

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 12:43 PM

If the vehicle was in gear and they had just a flatbed then they would have pulled it onto the bed without dissengaging the tranny. It's not a pretty sight to watch. I've had to do it with peoples cars that had a tranny that would not shift because the cable was pinched or it operated on a servo and the electical system was fried. If they used a wheel lioft they would have dragged 2 wheels down while still in gear.


Sue their happy Arses! Even though it was towed because you parked in a wrong spot, I do believe they will still be resposible for all damages.

#14 mtsmiths

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 02:00 PM

Towing companies are the scum of the earth.


When I lived in Honolulu my MG Midget was towed for overtime parking in a movie theater parking lot. They wrecked the entire rear valance and bumper. When I went in to the office they gave me a claim form and asked me to fill it out and sign/date it. The guy then took a rubber stamp and hit it. "Pre-existing Damage Statement"

Funny, the stamp was designed so my signature and date exactly fit in blank squares on the rubber stamp.

The guy ripped of his 'file copy', flipped my copy back at me and said there's your damage claim. And laughed.

And now, during lunch some white Dodge Dually parked next to me sideswiped my car and caved in the passengers door and left while I was in the state store.

Grrrrrrrr!

#15 Martinjmpr

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 01:37 AM

The towing company had a duty to you not to harm your car. If they didn't know they couldn't tow an AWD car with an axle on the ground, they're negligent because they didn't know something they should have known (after all, AWD cars have been on the road for years and as great as Subarus are, it's reasonable to expect that sooner or later they may have to tow one.) If the driver knew and disregarded the danger of towing with an axle on the ground, they're negligent because their agent (the driver) was careless in his duties. If the company knew and the driver didn't because the company hadn't trained him, the company was negligent in their training. IOW, I don't see any way the company gets out of paying for this.

Small claims court is a good route because you don't have to hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, just getting a judgement against them may not be good enough because once you have the judgment in hand, you'll have to collect on it. I hope the towing company is a well established one and not a fly-by-night operation.

One other thing: Did you arrange this tow through AAA or some other roadside service? If so, you may be able to get some help from them. After all, by affiliating themselves with this towing company, your roadside emergency service has, essentially, vouched for them and said that they are an acceptable company to do business with. It might be worth it for them to keep in your good graces, and having them on your side would be a big help.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

#16 brus brother

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 04:47 AM

You did say that you were parked improperly (illegally?), so I assume you didn't call for the tow truck. Was it in a private lot and towed at the request of the lot or location owner or was this State sponsored terrorism?
My experience with Small Claims in New York is tiring but fruitful. Once you get a small claims judgement, they have 30 days to pay you. You can then give the judgement to a Marshall to make demands and he can padlock the business if they don't comply. If you paid them by check, you can see where your check was deposited and freeze their bank account. Don't go bragging and threatening as to what you'll do. Surprise is the key element here.
Incidentally, all court fees and Marshall fees are added to the judgement and you can get interest added if it goes on for any length of time. In NY I believe the interest rate is 9% and that's better than you get in the banks! If they have 3 unpaid judgements, there is a way of petitioning the courts and get triple damages assessed. Hell, you could end up the proud owner of a towing company... now that you own said towing company, don't forget to tow ALL AWD vehicles on a flatbed or else SEE ABOVE.

#17 Martinjmpr

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 05:38 AM

Ah, OK so AAA is not in the picture. Was it on a public street or in a private lot? If it was a private lot you may have a cause of action against the lot owner. Nevertheless, even if you were parked illegally or your time had expired, that's no excuse for the towing company to have destroyed your tranny. They still have a duty not to do foreseeable harm.

#18 jimschroder

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 05:26 PM

Ah, OK so AAA is not in the picture. Was it on a public street or in a private lot? If it was a private lot you may have a cause of action against the lot owner. Nevertheless, even if you were parked illegally or your time had expired, that's no excuse for the towing company to have destroyed your tranny. They still have a duty not to do foreseeable harm.


It was a private lot (owned by my apartment building - I parked in the wrong space).

thanks.

#19 brus brother

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Posted 31 October 2004 - 05:38 PM

Are you a renter, coop or condo owner of the apartment? Did they tow you to a legal spot close by or drag you by the nostrils some distance away? Just curious. Though the liability remains with the towing company, you probably would also name the owner of the building in a lawsuit as they contracted for the tow. You may have to pay for the tow but THEY are responsible for rendering a professional service and liable for damage to your car.




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