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Mich. Court: Tire Rotation Doesn't Technically Include Tightening Lug Nuts

Order Reprints

Oct. 24, 2019—A pair of Michigan car owners sued a dealership in 2013 after a tire came off while driving, leading to a crash. A tech at the dealership hadn't tightened the lug nuts after a tire rotation.

The owners, one of whom was injured in the crash, won their case against the dealership and were awarded $110,000 for damages and legal costs under the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act.

The dealership appealed, according to a report of the case by Jalopnik. The Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act is violated in part when a shop charges for repairs that "are not in fact performed." A Michigan appeals court decided to take a close look at what constituted "performed" in this tire rotation.

Judges ultimately concluded that the tire rotation is performed when the tires are moved, but that's where it ends. As highlighted by Jalopnik:

"We conclude, under the plain language of MCL257.1307a, that defendants 'performed' a tire rotation, albeit negligently...There is no support for the trial court’s determination that a tire rotation is not “performed” if a service person fails to sufficiently tighten the lug nuts on one tire," the ruling said.

The ruling noted that the tech had successfully moved the tires. The tech who did the rotation admitted that he placed the lug nuts back on the tire but didn't wrench them tight, which the court determined to be negligent. But a strict reading of the law prevented that to be a violation of the law.

It's an odd ruling that, as Jalopnik notes, could have ramifications for other services like oil changes. How far does the performance of an oil change extend? Refilling the reservoir or tightening the drain plug?

It may take other court cases or legislative action to find out in Michigan.

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