Car trouble? We can help you with that, too.

This past September, Jim Crowly’s 2011 Dodge Ram needed servicing as indicated by an illuminated “check engine” light. He brought it to Frank Fletcher Dodge in Sherwood, Arkansas. What followed was a series of miscommunications, wrongly ordered parts, unanswered questions and mechanic changes that left his truck still in the shop two months later.

So Crowly turned to us for help.

His story is a reminder that, although many of our complaints are travel-related, we take cases that involve all manner of consumer issues — even getting a fuel tank replaced in a timely manner.

Crowly’s understandable frustration was evident in his initial communication with us:

I own a 2011 Dodge 2500 Ram which I purchased May 17, 2014. It has been in the shop (Frank Fletcher Dodge) in Sherwood, Arkansas, since Sept. 26. It needs a new fuel tank. I have been in a rental vehicle since. The tank has been on “back order” ever since. I have been given three arrival dates for the tank and each time it has been extended. The latest extension was given to me yesterday, Nov. 1. The new arrival date is now Nov. 21. I seriously doubt if it will be in by then. Fletcher has been really helpful, BUT, I NEED SOME HELP! PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THIS!!! I WOULD APPRECIATE A RESPONSE, ASAP!!!

So that we could better understand what was going on, we asked Crowly for a paper trail between himself and Frank Fletcher Dodge. This is standard practice when advocating a case. We want to know what the consumer has already tried to do to solve their own problem and the interactions with the company or business involved. Crowly explained that he did not have any emails from Frank Fletcher Dodge, but he had meticulously documented every communication that he had with the auto shop.

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His saga was chronicled in detail, starting in September and leading up to his request for help from our advocates. What is clear is that the auto shop did not have the needed fuel tank and seemed unable to get it. Further complicating matters, the mechanic who started the work on his truck appears to have initially ordered the wrong fuel tank. This mechanic later left his employment at Frank Fletcher Dodge.

Weeks went by, and then the auto shop blamed the continued delay on a “nationwide shortage” of fuel tanks for this Dodge Ram. In fact, Crowly says that they told him that there were three customers ahead of him waiting for the same fuel tank.

I have to admit that I did not know our nation was currently facing a Dodge Ram fuel tank shortage. Crowly hadn’t heard about it either. But he waited patiently for his turn to receive one of these sought-after fuel tanks. Until the third date of delivery came and went.

By then, he had reached the end of his proverbial rope.

He had already been forced to cancel several end-of-season camping trips because he had no truck to pull his camper. And, although he was grateful that Frank Fletcher Dodge made sure that he was provided a rental car during the repair period, he wanted his truck back. So, using our company contact list, he began contacting various Chrysler executives, as well as our advocacy team.

He documented all of his efforts along the way.

Our advocates contacted Frank Fletcher Dodge on Crowly’s behalf and asked for an explanation for the missing fuel tank. As it sometimes happens when we contact a company, they did not directly respond to us. But we are happy to report that Crowly is now the owner of one of those coveted fuel tanks, and his Dodge Ram is back home.

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Lesson learned? When you begin to perceive that a problem may be developing, it’s important to keep a log of your interactions with a company. We commend Crowly for his self-advocacy and detailed recordkeeping. This made his case easy to understand and advocate.

One point we would add, though, is that we recommend staying off the phone when you are experiencing an issue with a company. Instead, use email. It is a great way to document your attempts to solve the problem and the company’s response. This paper trail will ultimately simplify future efforts to repair the dilemma — travel-related or not.

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at

  • AJPeabody

    No new parts? Check junk yards – er – recyclers. Check eBay, Check with an independent car repair mechanic.

  • Dutchess

    With three other customers in line for a fuel tank, this sounds like a recall issue which is probably why they gave the LW a rental car for so long.

  • David___1

    As I read this I couldn’t help thinking that he’d likely have spent less time on an organ transplant list…

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I agree, but why not just tell the OP the reason for the delay (and maybe rent him a truck instead of a car if he needs a truck).

  • JewelEyed

    You won’t get an organ that fast unless you’re in China. And that’s only because they’re known to harvest organs from political prisoners (not death row inmates) on demand. There have been resolutions passed by several governments, sanctions, and even laws passed to prevent citizens of many countries from going to China and getting one of these organs.

  • PsyGuy

    What no aftermarket gas tanks? I mean it’s just a tank right?

  • PsyGuy

    How do you mess up a gas tank, it’s basically a metal bottle right?

  • Carol Molloy

    The average wait for an organ is measured in years. In my state, the average is seven years. I know, because I am that list. I look forward to a world in which the wait could be measured in months!

  • Fishplate

    They’re mostly plastic these days.

  • The Original Joe S

    If you can’t wait for an organ, get a piano.

  • The Original Joe S

    It’s a Dodge, ain’t it? Even the GERMANS couldn’t fix Chrysler.

  • PsyGuy

    True they created VW though.

  • PsyGuy

    A flat plastic bottle then, how hard can this be?

  • The Original Joe S

    Porche and Hitler did. They took deposits and then didn’t deliver. True gangsters!

    Later, VW programmed the cars so that when they were being tested at 30 mph, the computer sensed it and set the emissions to pass. Meanwhile, the cars ran BETTER under normal driving conditions. AND the government bleated that people should bring in their cars to be “repaired”. Yup. They’d “repair” them so that the mileage went DOWN.

    Mercedes did something like that in ’72. The put the blue fuel injectors in the 4.5 engines, which were for the 3.5. They swapped in the yellow ones when you went in for service, and the gas mileage went through the floor. Thanks to the EPA……


  • Fishplate

    Your first day at the mold factory? Here, let me show you around…

    Profit is the reason. Too expensive, too many variations, and too little demand. Plus, the cost of litigation when your cheap gas tank is involved in a couple of hundred fireballs.

  • PsyGuy

    I remember watching how to make a gas tank with a plastic 5 gallon water container, a length of hose, duct tape and a swiss army knife.

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