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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to share my terrible Atlas and VW dealer experience with everyone here, and would appreciate anyones feedback or advice on any part of this story.

I bought this 2018 Atlas about 6 weeks ago. A few days prior to this event, I heard a soft clunking when pressing the brakes as the car was reversing. I didn't think much of it and made a mental note to get it checked out soon.

A few days later, my wife was driving the car when she heard a soft metallic rubbing sound for a few seconds and the car the came to a grinding halt. she called me and I arrived on the scene to see the below:

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Among the debris of the broken rim, I found an intact caliper carrier bolt (pictured above). What follows must be one of the worst dealer experiences imaginable.

Knowing that the brakes had recently been refreshed by the VW dealer who sold me the car, and finding that caliper bolt, I assumed the bolt had not been tightened correctly and fell between the inside of the rim and the caliper, forcing the rim to break.

The VW dealer, having completed his "invesigation" of the event, agreed that the loose bolt from the caliper likely broke the rim as it became trapped between caliper and wheel.

HOWEVER, he did not agree with my theory that someone forgot to tighten the bolt. He instead concluded that:

"The caliper bolt must have been loosened by a rock or something hitting it" and told me I'd have to pay for a new wheel and tire, as it was my fault that I must have hit something.

I was flabbergasted and speechless at what sounds to me like a completely absurd explanation. This is not some out of the way shady dealer, this is an actual VW delaership suggesting that a caliper carrier bolt, probably torqued to something like 140-150 lb-ft of torque, was LOOSENED by road debris.

The problem with his explanation is that even IF that was the case, a car designed in a way where road debris can loosen a bolt carrier should not be on the road.

What does everyone think, is this as absurd as I think it is or am I completely out to lunch?
 

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The dealer is a joke. Did he write up the explanation on the service report? I doubt there is a mechanic on the planet that would agree with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The dealer is a joke. Did he write up the explanation on the service report? I doubt there is a mechanic on the planet that would agree with him.
I have asked for that explanation in writing numerous times over the past few days and he has not provided it yet. He said he would do so this morning. I am supposed to pick up the car this evening.

Any thoughts on what I should do nect?
 

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There is a way to escalate the issue to the regional VW rep. Someone here will have info on it. People do it all the time. I never have.
 

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Also you can ping VW Customer Care on Twitter, they can help start that process of escalation. There’s no way what they’re claiming happened.


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Unfortunately its hard to trust majority of dealers to do any quality work anymore. In my previous experience with any dealers, you're going to have to become a huge pain in their butt to get anything resolved.

Our atlas we bought CPO a month ago was overfilled by a quart on their oil change. They had previously tried to upsell their service department saying they had 4 master mechanics on staff. 2 days after owning the Atlas a strong smell of cigarettes started to emerge, they had masked it really good for the sale. A friend of mine that purchased a CPO GLI a day earlier from that same dealer came to find the front sway bar was cut off the car and sold that way. So much for a "multi-point inspection".
 

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Everything you and your wife experienced supports a bolt slowly loosing, allowing the caliper/bolt to scrape the wheel, until it came out far enough to stop the wheel from turning. This would not happen with a properly torqued bolt so the dealer is full of sh*t.

If one tech did the work, it is likely they failed to torque other bolts properly. Checking the other wheels' lug, caliper, and slider bolts' torques would reveal if this is the case.

Therefore, it may be prudent to take an independent mechanic to the dealership to check torques with the dealership and shop managers watching while you take a video of it. All you need to do is find one improperly torqued bolt to prove your case.

It would be appropriate for you at this point to share the dealership's name and the name of the person who refused warranty repair. This may reveal other members who have had problems with the dealership who can support your case. It will also warn others about the dealership so they may be able to avoid a similar situation.

I sincerely hope this works out to your benefit. Good luck!
 

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Sounds like a mechanic nightmare more than a specific vehicle issue. When I replaced the brakes on mine I used loctite and torqued to spec (147ft/lb if I recall). I have seen some mechanics have a torque wrench way out of spec but on the other hand some electronic torque wrenches record the date and max setting in its memory. You would think a dealer would be using modern calibrated tools but you never know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you everyone for your support. They have so far not provided their diagnosis in writing but told me they will. On discussion with them today, they have struck a more conciliatory tone, and I will see if this leads to them taking responsiblity for their mistake.

Great advice on checking hte other bolts as well, I will definitely do that.

I hope I don't have to escalate this but will definitely ping VW Twitter and write an email to VW Canada as the next of many steps if we cannot resolve this.

In regards to naming the dealership, I do want to first give them a chance to make this right. I also have to ensure that I can't be sued for libel when naming and shaming.

@VR6God18 what an insane experience, I don't know why these comapnies would rather have the hassle of disgruntled customers than just do things properly.
 

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Major screw up by the dealership. Even before you mentioned it, I could tell from your location (Canada), having just bought the car 6 weeks ago, and how new the brake rotor looks that the car had a brake job before you bought it.

Literally impossible for road debris or a rock to loosen a caliper carrier bolt (that's what it looks like). Those things are torque to higher values than wheel bolts. It'd be a product liability nightmare if a manufacturer designed brakes that could fall off because of road debris. What a joke.

Dealers have mechanics licenses for a reason - to ensure public safety and prevent this sort of nonsense. The dealer you purchased from should make it right at no cost to you. You may need to escalate from whomever the clown that made up the pebble excuse is. May also want to look into remedies with your provincial licensing agency. Not sure how all that works up there.
 

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This is going to sound silly, but this is a serious suggestion.

Go to the hardware store. Buy yourself a bolt, a nut, a small piece of metal, and a brick. Put the nut and the bolt through the piece of metal. Go to the dealership and ask the service advisor to loosen the bolt with the brick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Major screw up by the dealership. Even before you mentioned it, I could tell from your location (Canada), having just bought the car 6 weeks ago, and how new the brake rotor looks that the car had a brake job before you bought it.

Literally impossible for road debris or a rock to loosen a caliper carrier bolt (that's what it looks like). Those things are torque to higher values than wheel bolts. It'd be a product liability nightmare if a manufacturer designed brakes that could fall off because of road debris. What a joke.

Dealers have mechanics licenses for a reason - to ensure public safety and prevent this sort of nonsense. The dealer you purchased from should make it right at no cost to you. You may need to escalate from whomever the clown that made up the pebble excuse is. May also want to look into remedies with your provincial licensing agency. Not sure how all that works up there.
Not sure how it works either but it looks like I might find out!
 

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Sounds like a mechanic nightmare more than a specific vehicle issue. When I replaced the brakes on mine I used loctite and torqued to spec (147ft/lb if I recall). I have seen some mechanics have a torque wrench way out of spec but on the other hand some electronic torque wrenches record the date and max setting in its memory. You would think a dealer would be using modern calibrated tools but you never know.
I agree with this assessment. A loose brake caliper bolt would probably have a similar result, regardless of the make and model of vehicle. The mechanic is the problem here, not the Atlas.

In another way of looking at this situation, if the dealership accepts responsibility and makes good on it 100%, they will have gotten off cheap. The alternative scenario? A serious accident caused by brake failure. :(

The dealership will want to review the importance of torque settings with all of their mechanics. This is not trivial.

To the OP: you are in the right, based on the events as we understand them.

🍺
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is going to sound silly, but this is a serious suggestion.

Go to the hardware store. Buy yourself a bolt, a nut, a small piece of metal, and a brick. Put the nut and the bolt through the piece of metal. Go to the dealership and ask the service advisor to loosen the bolt with the brick.
Hahahaha, this killed me.
 

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Similar situation, much more agreeable conclusion. My wife's '17, new-to-us, MKT had some brake work done before we bought it. A week in we start hearing a low squeaking/creaking noise. I isolate the noise and pull the offending wheel only to find BOTH caliper carriers bolts hanging on by a "thread". I take pics, tighten and torque them down, and call the dealership. They agree to look the car over again and repair the brakes AGAIN as they now had some uneven wear. While I'm happy they fixed their problem, it should never have been an issue in the first place. All they had to do was slow down a little and pay closer attention. Instead, they nearly caused an accident. Hope they treat you right, stick to your guns and, if you have to, don't be afraid to be an *******.
 

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I mean, this is bad but it could've been even far worse....aka causing an accident and/or injuring other people because of that.
I wouldn't take this lightly and you should remind them of that
 

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Seems pretty straightforward that this was caused by the brake job. Just a customer service/how to get them to sort it issue with the dealer that may end up causing more drama that it's worth. You can always have it fixed, keep your records, and then go after the dealer for the cost.
 
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