A DeKalb County woman is the latest victim to find out a dirty and corroded transmission installed in her Lexus was actually from a flooded Toyota SUV.
“It’s not shifting out gears like it should. It’s clunky,” Dennisha Gordon said sitting behind the wheel of her 2004 Lexus RX 330.
She told Strickland she had recently been to Mr. Transmission on Covington Highway in Decatur and paid $2,360 for a transmission rebuild.
Gordon sought additional service at Hennessy Lexus in Chamblee and heard bad news from technician Chris Roshaven.
“When we put your vehicle in the air, this is what we saw,” he explained while focusing the beam of his flashlight on the transmission. Roshaven showed Gordon that her transmission housing was corroded and attached with rusty bolts. The part was caked with dirt, which had been covered in spray paint.
“Corrosion, rust, dirt (are) not the indicators of a rebuilt transmission,” Roshaven said.
Roshaven looked at the top of the transmission where there’s a Vehicle Identification Number.
“The number is not consistent with this vehicle. It came out of a Toyota Highlander,” he said.
Strickland checked the vehicle number with Carfax and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. He then called salvage auctioneer Coparts, and confirmed the Toyota transmission was from a Katrina flood car from Louisiana.
“Flood water is particularly caustic and problematic. It has the tendency to rot cars, to rot parts, from the inside out,” said Carfax spokesman Larry Gamache.
Gamache said Carfax estimates the 2005 Gulf of Mexico hurricanes left 750,000 cars flooded and the automobile research firm reported those parts now flood the market.
“Five and six years down the road, you’re going to realize that the part is slowly rotting away,” he said.
“I cried, because I could not believe someone would be so deceitful about the work that I paid Mr. Transmission to do, Gordon told Strickland.
There are several metro Mr. Transmission shops owned by individual franchisees. Ed Glover owns the shop on Covington Highway. Strickland and a Channel 2 photographer walked into Glovers business with a camera rolling.
“Did you install that corroded part?” asked Strickland.
“What do you mean corroded?” responded Glover. Strickland showed him a close-up photo and Glover later admitted an employee did use the housing and a main gear called a planetary from the flood car. They bought it at a salvage yard south of Atlanta, he said.
Glover claimed the most sensitive parts of the transmission were new or reconditioned, and never flooded. He said it was up to Gordon to prove any problem.
“We asked her to remove the transmission, (using) an independent third party, to make sure that we replaced the parts,” Glover said.
“That costs more than $2,000,” said Strickland, repeating the figure given him by the dealership.
“If she has a problem, we have no issues rectifying her problem,” said Glover.
Glover vows to take the transmission apart at his shop at no charge to prove there are no flood-related issues but Gordon told Strickland she is not keen on that.
“I’ll never have them fix my car again,” she said.
A transmission builder, with ASE master certification, told Strickland that installing a transmission gear from a car flooded in Katrina isn’t worth it. There’s too much risk of corrosion, he said. Glover stands by his work.