Customer Amy Brewer claims a Southeast Portland auto-repair shop, which calls itself "Home of the Honest Mechanics," is anything but that.
Brewer filed a lawsuit this week against Honest-1 Auto Care, saying that she brought her car in for a quick oil change, but a mechanic claimed she had a big coolant leak that needed fixing. The next day, Brewer took her car to another mechanic, who said someone purposefully moved a hose clamp so coolant would leak, her suit states.
Brewer is seeking about $200 in out-of-pocket costs, plus an unspecified amount of punitive damages and attorneys fees in her lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
When reached by phone Friday, a representative for Honest-1 said Brewer's claims are false. He said he was the business' area representative for Washington and Oregon, but would give only his first name, Gary.
"Our tag is 'Honest-1 Auto Care: Home of Honest Mechanics.' We stand by that," he said. "Our techs stand behind that. ... Something like this makes me furious."
The business, he said, has video cameras in the bay where technicians work. He said Brewer's oil was changed, and Honest-1 employees didn't tamper with her hose clamp.
According to her suit, on May 6, Brewer took her 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS to Honest-1 Auto Care at 2002 S.E. Stark Street and "waited an unusually long time for her oil to be changed." After a while, an employee approached "and informed her that she had a major coolant leak," the suit reads.
Brewer's Hyundai was still under warranty, and she'd never seen the tell-tale signs of a fluid leak in her driveway, according to the suit. She didn't think the employee was being honest with her, so she told him to finish up the oil change. She paid and then left, according to the suit.
The next morning, Brewer noticed a small spot of liquid on her driveway, the suit states. So she took her car to Cooke's Brake Service in Southeast Portland, about 1 1/2 miles from Honest-1.
Cooke's owner Dan Tracy "pressure tested for a leak and found that the hose clamp had been loosened and relocated slightly to cause a slow coolant leak," the suit states. Tracy also checked the oil and said it had not been recently changed, the suit states.
On Friday, Tracy told The Oregonian that while he couldn't say who tampered with Brewer's car, clearly someone had moved the hose clamp about an inch, causing the coolant leak.
"These clamps do not move on their own," Tracy said.
Fixing genuine coolant leaks can be costly, as much as $750, he said. But Tracy said it took him about "two seconds" to move the clamp back to its original location, thereby fixing the problem.
Tracy said from time to time, he's been tested by TV news reporters who -- without identifying themselves -- bring cars in for fixing, when there are no real problems. He said he recently had that happen. His shop diagnosed the car as fine, although a mechanic at another shop found a list of costly problems, Tracy said.
"It's an unfortunate thing because ...there's enough cars out there for all of us to work on," Tracy said. "Word-of-mouth is humongous for us."
When Brewer brought her car in, Tracy said he also told her it looked as if her oil hadn't been changed for quite some time. But Tracy said it's possible that Brewer's oil could have blackened in just one day -- if Brewer had previously driven 20,000 miles or so without changing it.
The lawsuit was filed by Portland attorney Daniel Russell. He couldn't immediately be reached Friday for comment.
Honest-1 Auto Care is owned by Milwaukie Auto Care LLC, according to the suit.
Copyright 2014 - The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.