Consumer Watch: Man’s Truck Unrecognizable After Trip To Auto Shop

Wednesday, January 12th 2011, 11:15 pm
By: News 9

Amanda Taylor, News 9

HARRAH, Oklahoma – A 1998 Dodge Ram pick-up was Chris Hand, a father of four's only means of transportation.

"It's the only vehicle we have to get around, go to the grocery store, everything," Chris Hand said.

But it wound up catching fire after what he thought was a routine trip to the mechanic. Hand said he had just put in a rebuilt motor and transmission to keep it going. All it needed was a tune up and some new spark plugs.

That's why he took it to Newalla Automotive. But when he picked it up, he said it started backfiring.

So he took it back and dropped it off again.

"Called me about a week later 'Hey your truck burnt to the ground,'" You're kidding me!" Hand said.

He said the explanation he got was the truck backfired at the shop, that sparked a fire and it burned long enough to destroy Hand's ride.

And when he asked about compensation or a replacement truck Hand said he was told the shop didn't have any insurance, so he was out of luck.

"I did all that work to it and to see it burned and then he didn't want to replace it because he didn't feel liable. I didn't know what to do about it," Hand said.

He called the Consumer Watch Team and the team went to Newalla Automotive and met the owner, Charles Bryan.

"No way in the world do I feel responsible, because we hadn't even opened the hood on it, except about a month prior to that," Bryan said.

He maintains Hand had the truck in his possession for about a month before returning it to the shop. He said that was enough time that something else could have gone wrong. He said nothing his workers did caused the backfiring, or the fire.

"It was just an accident," Bryan said. "It happens. It just happened here. It could have happened to him on the side of the road."

The Oklahoma Insurance Department said a shop like his is not required to have insurance to cover their work. But the Consumer Watch Team said if a shop carries insurance, it may make it easier to collect should something go wrong. However, even shops who have insurance may still not cover a problem if it's deemed it 'wasn't their fault.'

Unfortunately, Hand only has liability insurance, which won't cover his charred truck.

Even though the shop owner said he's not to blame, he has offered to help by fixing up another truck, should Hand buy one.

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