A Calgary couple is questioning the “checks and balances” at auto dealerships after their vehicle’s tire went flying — moments after leaving the shop.
Neil Piccott told Global News he had just picked up his truck from South Trail Chrysler on Sept. 16 when his attempt to drive away was quickly interrupted.
“I got maybe half a kilometre from the dealership and the front driver-side wheel fell off,” he said. “It came off of my truck. The truck stopped and the tire kept going.
“There was a shake and a wobble and the truck just dropped.”
Piccott said the tire had flown across the road and into oncoming traffic.
“As luck would have it, I was doing maybe 10 km/h coming into a merge intersection,” he added. “Luckily the truck just stopped. Wheel kept going. Everybody was safe.”
Piccott said that wouldn’t have been if the couple had already headed out on the highway, like they had planned to.
“If we had been going on that highway, we wouldn’t be here today having this conversation,” he pointed out. “Or somebody else’s family wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“The damage that could have been done, to us or anybody else, I don’t even want to think about it,” Piccott’s wife Corine Ryan told Global News.
“The potential of people losing lives that day was high. Very high. Had we hit the highway that day we could have died. Somebody else could have.”
Piccott called the dealership which immediately sent someone out to help and bring the truck back to the shop. What he said didn’t help was the initial response from staff, who he said did not apologize or explain what happened.
“I said the front wheel just fell off my truck. And his only response to that was (curse).”
South Trail Chrysler general manager Oscar Flores told Global News what happened was very unfortunate and unusual.
“Honestly, all I can say at the end of the day is accidents happen,” he said. “There is no excuse, I’m not trying to make one. I didn’t try to make one with the customer.”
Flores said the problem could have been a lug nut that was not tightened enough or had come loose — but he’s not sure.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you how it happened, why it happened this time. All I can say is we have the tightest measures. We’re just fortunate nobody got injured.”
The couple said what’s ironic is the truck was only in the shop because Chrysler had provided them with two conflicting inspection reports: one showing numerous problems, the subsequent one showing no problems.
They added the trust had already been broken and to have this now happen was unacceptable.
“Stuff does happen. Life is life — that’s the way it goes,” Piccott said. “But when you’re bringing your vehicle into a place like that, a dealership, you can’t afford to say, ‘well they’re human.’”
“I don’t understand how (this happened). This is what they do. They fix vehicles. How can you not have checks and balances in place?” Ryan questioned.
“How does that truck get out of the building, the dealership, without the lug nuts tightened? They really need to own up to this. They really do.”
Flores told Global News his crew has also been looking into that, adding he has been working with the family from day one to find answers. He also said the dealership is fixing the vehicle and has provided the couple with a loaner and other offers of compensation.
He refutes claims that he has not been following up with texts and calls from the couple.
Motorists are encouraged to have their vehicle’s lug nuts torqued at least 100 kms after any service involving the removal or replacement of tires.