Fairfield couple’s car catches fire a day after vehicle repair – NBC Connecticut

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A Fairfield couple got their car back from a repair shop less than 24 hours before it caught fire on the freeway.

Julie Carey of Fairfield was driving. Her husband Tim was in the passenger seat.

“We fled and literally within 10 to 15 seconds the car was engulfed in flames,” said Tim, who said he could feel the heat rising through his sandals.

The couple had left a friend’s gathering on a hot July day and were heading home on Interstate 95 North when passengers in another car rolled down their windows.

“They’re screaming, I mean screaming, ‘Your car is on fire, your car is on fire,'” Julie said.

Julie said she pulled over to the side of the freeway as fast as she could near exit 17 in Westport.

Her husband and many others called 911 and firefighters came to put out the flames. The car was destroyed.

For the next two weeks, “Julie was stressed. She had trouble sleeping,” her husband said.

“You think about the assumptions, about what could have happened. If there had been someone in the back, would we all have gotten out in time? Julie said.

The Careys are thankful they got out unscathed and didn’t have their grandkids in the car.

Of course, the insurance covered their claim for their wrecked car, but not its contents. Then there was a headache of finding a new ride.

“I had to go out and buy a new car, which was not in our financial plan. So now we are retired and on a fixed income,” Julie said.

But what excited them the most – Firestone Complete Auto Care in Fairfield still charged them for the repairs and the Careys wanted their money back.

A month and later, the Careys reached out to NBC CT Responds to help them resolve the financial fire with the repair shop.

We caught up with the Careys at the exit, not far from where their car caught fire.

“In good conscience, how can you charge me for something that a) didn’t work b) you burned my car? said Tim.

So, let’s pick up on this story for a second.

Julie dropped off her car at the end of June when she was simply not accelerating. According to the documents they shared with us, the technicians believed that a fuel injector was to blame.

But the Careys say the fix took a long time, nearly two weeks. They were told that the wrong parts were part of the problem.

So days before the fire, Tim said he suggested Firestone take his car somewhere else.

“I said, ‘Look, if you can’t fix it, I’ll come and take the car and drive it to Mazda and let it be fixed. And the gentleman over there said, ‘No, I can’t give you the car because if you drive it, it might catch fire.’ And I went, ‘Oh okay, then you have to fix it.'”

The Careys say they got a call saying the car was fixed and they were due to pick it up on Saturday. The next day, the car burst into flames.

The Careys opened a complaint with Firestone, but contacted NBC CT Responds weeks later when it seemed to go nowhere.

“We thought, let’s give it a try because someone has to help us get our voice heard here,” Tim said.

Once we reached out, suddenly there was movement.

Firestone’s parent company, Bridgestone Retail Operations, worked out a solution with the Careys and they sent us this statement.

“We aim to be the most trusted tire and auto service provider in every neighborhood we serve. We are happy to know that no one was injured in the vehicle fire. Although our investigation into this matter is ongoing, the incident that has occurred is highly unusual. We are committed to providing high quality automotive care and have worked with this customer to reach a mutually satisfactory solution.

Since our interview with the Careys, they can’t say too much because they had to sign a non-disparagement agreement in order to get their money back, but they tell us a resolution wouldn’t have happened without NBC CT Responds.

“What are you going to do with a car today?” No one really knows how these things work. You put your faith in the place that does it,” Tim said, ahead of the Firestone deal.

Two takeaways the Careys want to share: If your check engine light comes on, take it seriously.

Second, remember that what you have in your car is not covered by auto insurance. It is covered by home insurance.

In Carey’s case, they say the high cost of their deductible and the impact on their policy wasn’t worth making a claim.

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