Woman’s beloved Mitsubishi sits in shop for 8 months waiting on repairs

Debra Smith said her car should have been totaled, but a repair shop said they made the approved repairs.
Woman’s beloved Mitsubishi sits in shop for 8 months waiting on repairs
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 3:05 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2023 at 2:02 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Debra Smith’s love affair with her 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS Sport Spyder convertible is over. The car sits under her carport, but Smith said she can’t drive it.

In May 2022, Smith’s son swerved to miss a deer and crashed the car in a ditch. He filed an insurance claim with State Farm and took the vehicle to what he thought was one of the insurance company’s preferred shops, Pinkston Automotive and Collision. There it sat for eight months, waiting for parts Mitsubishi no longer manufactures.

“And the long and the short of it is, I’ve got a piece of garbage sitting in my driveway that I can’t drive, that I can’t sell, that I can’t get any money for,” Smith said.

Smith and her son are disputing the quality of work done by the shop. They showed Atlanta News First Investigates mismatched paint; a tail light secured with one screw; and an aftermarket front bumper from a different model.

“This car is very hard to find parts for,” Smith’s son said. “They told me they had to cut it up to make it fit. There’s no cover here. There are open holes, and this looks like chicken wire,” he said, referring to the bumper’s lower grill.

Chaun Pinkston and her husband own Pinkston Automotive and Collision, and she disputed Smith’s claims. She said the shop performed the work to State Farm’s specification, and that State Farm approved the aftermarket bumper. She also said the shop waited eight months for a replacement tire.

“A vehicle is usually a person’s largest expense outside of a home, so we do not take that for granted,” Pinkston said. “For every vehicle that comes to our facility, we do our best to perform that standard. Now, sometimes we may fall short. But what we have had in the past is that customers know who we are.”

In her discussion with Better Call Harry, Pinkston asked for the opportunity to bring the car back and address the family’s concerns. Smith said it’s been nearly a year since the accident and declined the offer.

Kelly Blue Book’s “fair market value” on Smith’s Mitsubishi Spyder is $6,346. Smith said her insurance paid close to that amount, and claimed the car is mechanically not drivable.

“I think the total came to $5,450,” Smith said. “The car should have been totaled.”

A State Farm spokesperson said Pinkston Automotive and Collision “does not appear to be a part of our Select Service program.

“Our customers choose the repair shop where they want to have repairs performed on their vehicle,” the spokesperson said. “Only they can authorize the repairs. Customers should address any concerns about their repairs with the repair shop they have chosen to work with.”

Takeaway: There are benefits to using an insurance company’s preferred shops and vendors, such as this list from State Farm.


If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First’s Consumer Investigator Better Call Harry to look into, fill out this submission form.