Sometimes Things Just Happen…

Sometimes, when you take your vehicle in for service things happen that you don’t expect but, can result in serious damage.  The following are two examples of recent investigations where serious problems were caused.  The first claim involved a 2016 Toyota Tacoma that was taken to a Toyota dealership for an oil change.  Upon completion of the work, the vehicle was returned to its owner.  After arriving back at home, the owner noticed that his vehicle was leaking oil.  The owner promptly returned to the dealership.  However, unbeknownst to him, the oil drain plug fell out of the oil pan.  As a result, the engine was damaged to the extent that metal flakes were found in the oil drain pan indicating the need for an engine replacement.  Although the dealership denied any wrongdoing, a trail of oil was found and could be followed from the owner’s home to the dealership.  The photos below show the metal flakes found in the oil pan and the oil trail leading back to the dealership. 

Metal flakes found in oil pan indicating damage to engine
Oil trail leading from owner’s home to dealership

In this next claim, a lady was involved in a five vehicle accident when she couldn’t stop her 2011 Ford Escape and rear-ended a vehicle.  That impact started a chain reaction that involved four other vehicles.  Upon investigating it was learned that the vehicle’s front brakes had been replaced approximately two weeks before the accident.  It was also learned that the work had been done by a nationally recognized tire and auto service center.  The vehicle was later returned to the service center in order to perform an examination of the brakes and the work that had been done in the presence of service center personnel.  Upon removing both front wheels and inspecting the brake pads, it was noted that the pads on the interior sides of the rotors on both sides were missing.  It was clear that for whatever reason, the technician doing the work had only installed one brake pad on each wheel!  The photos below show the condition of the brakes on each wheel with one missing pad.

Missing brake pad on driver’s side front wheel
Missing brake pad on passenger’s side front wheel
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GM Recalls 3.4 Million Vehicles for Brake Problem

General Motors has announced that it has recalled approximately 3.4 million SUVs and trucks for a brake problem that can result in a crash.  The problem has been identified as a faulty mechanical vacuum pump.  The vacuum pump provides the vacuum assist for power braking.  As time passes, the pump’s ability to provide a vacuum, decreases.  As a result, braking becomes harder and stopping distances become longer.  Although brakes do not stop working, drivers must constantly be aware of the decreasing braking capability of their vehicle.  The vehicles that are involved in this recall are:

2014 – 2018 Chevrolet Silverado pick up trucks  

2014 ­- 2018 GMC Sierra pick up trucks

2015 – 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs

2015 – 2018 GMC Yukon SUVs

2015 – 2018 Chevrolet Suburban SUVs  

2015 – 2018 Cadillac Escalade SUVs

Owners should take their vehicles to their dealer for a free software update.  For additional information, owners can contact GM by calling 1-800-630-2438 for Chevrolet, 1-800-458-8006 for Cadillac, and 1-800-462-8782 for GMC.  The GM recall identification number is N192268490.  The NHTSA campaign number is 19V645.

Weather Related Damage

At this time of year when storms are prevalent, especially in the southeast, often times it seems as if lightning damage occurs automatically.  The loss of an air conditioning system, computer server or telephone service can be attributed to lighting or a power surge.  In point of fact, the damage may or may not be weather related.  In order to determine if the damage is weather related, one of the tools used by both forensic consultants and claims adjusters is a lightning strike report.  These reports are sold by companies that specialize in reporting weather related data.  Home and business owners should take note of the fact that if they feel that their claim is lightning related, it would behoove them to obtain a lightning strike report before reporting their claim.  That way when the adjuster or expert arrives to assess the damage, the owner’s report can be reviewed and used as evidence to corroborate the owner’s claim.  Currently, the attitude is if lightning strikes within five miles of the damage location, then the damage can be attributed to the lightning strike.  However, this is not a hard and fast rule.  Once lightning hits the ground, it can go anywhere.  Tracing the path is often difficult if not impossible.  As a result, if the claim cannot be disproven, the benefit of the doubt has to be given to the insured. The same arguments can be made when roof damage occurs and hail is the suspected cause.  Home and business owners can also get reports on wind velocities, rain fall and temperature changes.  The reports can be very useful in times when tornados, flooding and freezing occur.  It should also be noted that these reports can be used to disprove an insureds claim.   

Boiler Refresher

R.J. Hill just completed a boiler refresher webinar class presented by Clever Brooks .  The presentation was focused on maintenance, while discussing specific tasks that should be done on  daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly time intervals.  Interest in this type of presentation is not for the sake of performing maintenance as much it is on what has to be done to prevent catastrophic failures.  For example maintaining a daily log of recorded temperatures, pressures, and flows is can be indicative of the boiler’s operating condition.  On the other hand, removal of the tube bundle each year and inspecting the tubes, helps determine when tubes and seals have to be replaced.  A boiler that is not properly maintained can become a potentially huge liability for the insurance carrier as well as the owner.  Catastrophic boiler failures can result in expenditures reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions.    

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