Tires changed? Better read the fine print…

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 5/8/2015

Memo to drivers who get their tires serviced at Love’s Travel Stops: When they say “have lugs retorqued at 50 to 100 miles,” they mean it. If you don’t, it could void the warranty.

That’s what OOIDA Life Member Tony Freese found out, anyway.

Freese, of Edinburg, Texas, has been trying for more than a year to recoup more than $1,400 in damages he incurred to his trailer after suffering a blowout on a trailer tire that had been replaced by a Love’s tire shop in Hearne, Texas.

Freese said he went to the shop on June 8, 2014, because he noticed an abrasion on one of the tires on his rear trailer axle, and had it replaced with a tire he had that was “already on the rack, on a rim.”

According to Freese, the employee at the Hearne store was “young and inexperienced” and on multiple occasions required verbal directions from Freese on how to perform the procedure. Freese said the supervisor of the shop had already left for the day.

Two days later, on June 10, he had a blowout that resulted in both tires coming off the rear trailer axle. By that time, Freese said he’d traveled nearly 700 miles, from Texas to the Illinois-Wisconsin border. The blowout happened as he was pulling out of a toll plaza near Rockford, Ill.

“A guy goes by me in a truck and he put his finger up and twirls it, like we used to do years ago when we saw a cop and he had the red light on,” Freese said. “Then he pointed to the back. I thought maybe I had a flat. As I looked back… all of a sudden I see a tire rolling across the interstate.”

As it turns out, Freese lost both tires on that side of his axle. Fortunately, the traffic was going slow enough, because of exiting the toll booth, which allowed the other drivers to avoid a collision with the rolling rubber.

The force of the tires coming off also damaged the trailer, busting the lock and causing one of the doors to blow off. The mishap also broke off all the studs on the axle.

Freese said he phoned a nearby Love’s, which dispatched a tow truck to haul the rig into the shop.

Initially, Freese said the Love’s doing the repairs had told him the work would be covered under warranty. But the corporate office denied the request, he said, because he failed to have the lug nuts retorqued after 50 to 100 miles of the initial service.

“They told me ‘We’ll take care of it,’” he said. “When they called Love’s corporate, they wouldn’t OK it.”

Both of the Love’s invoices that Freese submitted to Land Line state to retorque the lug nuts after 50 to 100 miles of usage, something Freese said he had “never heard before” in his 55 years of trucking.

“Why should I go somewhere and pay somebody else to fix something that I paid you to start with?” he said. “They said ‘you can go to any Love’s,’ but where’s the Love’s 50 miles from Hearne, Texas, that was on my route? If everybody that had a tire fixed today in a truck stop was stopping to get their lug nuts tightened, there wouldn’t be no freight hauled because everybody’d be in the truck stop getting their lug nuts tightened.”

According to Freese, the tires showed no sign of visible damage or problems during his pre-trip inspections.

“I check my hubs for heat every time I walk around the truck,” he said. “There was no grease leak or anything. I run grease like in the old days, not oil. Grease will not leak through the seal like oil will. I use a solid grease. Grease sticks to the bearings, even if there’s a problem with the bearing.”

He admits he did not check the lug nuts themselves, however, since he doesn’t carry a wrench.

Love’s corporate office declined multiple requests for comment; however, a representative of Love’s did confirm with a representative of OOIDA’s Business Services Department that Freese’s warranty claim was voided due to not having the lug nuts retorqued. The company stated that they reviewed the situation, including video from the shop, and that they didn’t do anything wrong. The company declined to share the video with OOIDA or Freese.

While he still stops at Love’s for fuel, Freese said he hasn’t been back to the service department since.

“I just want my money back. Most cases like this people would be calling lawyers,” he said. “I’d take $1,500 worth of fuel. If I get the money, chances are I’m going to spend it on fuel anyway.”

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