On Your Side Investigators: Read the disclaimer before getting your car washed

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - If you don't read the disclaimer when you pull into a carwash, now is a good time to start. Instructional-disclaimer signs are there to protect you from harm - and the carwash owner from lawsuits.

Most people follow the attendant's hand motions to put the car in neutral and take your foot off the brake, but many don't read the sign, and it can be an eye opener when something on your car breaks.

Jessica Nelson says the carwash caused a crack in her windshield.

"My window wasn't broken when I went in. I came out, it was broken," said Nelson.

Now she says the owner refuses to replace the broken glass on her 1998 ride for a couple reasons.

"This is my only means of transportation. I have a child," said Nelson.

Nelson promptly showed employees the damage before she left the property and later got a copy of the surveillance video when the owner said she came in with a rock crack and he's not responsible.

"He pointed to a glare. I want to see a chip in my vehicle that you said was there," said Nelson.

I went to Flagstop Carwash and got the owner to show me the surveillance footage. I'm not sure it detects a fine crack, but he is.

"All right, you got one here," points out Bob Schrum. "Now you got some other glares, but they go away. This one doesn't."

Regardless, disclaimer signs limit his liability. They're different from typical signs about antennas, bug shields and loose chrome. Flagstop does not accept responsibility for damage to vehicles over 10 years old, with more than 100,000 miles.

Diane asks: "When did these signs go up?"

"As soon as I remodeled, two years in May," said Schrum.

"This doesn't make any sense," said Nelson. "The year and mileage on my car has nothing to do with y'all breaking my windshield. I never heard of this policy before."

Three signs are posted, two before you enter the carwash. The owner invited us in for a wash, pushing our vehicle along the same tire track. He says his equipment didn't fall apart and nothing here damaged Nelson's car.

"We've been around 33 years, and we take care of people's vehicles," said Schrum. "We haven't gotten to grow the way we have without taking care of people's cars. I'm sorry as I can be that Ms. Nelson probably didn't see it, but the chip was there. No question in my mind."

Schrum says his policy is comparable to car manufacturer repair policies. He says he's willing to hook Nelson up with a company he knows that may give her a price break. Meantime, read the instruction-disclaimer sign, to know your risks.

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