BUFORD, Ga. — Take a look at your car right now – it's probably covered in pollen! The start of March always brings an avalanche of yellow down on all of our cars – and you might be tempted to head to the car wash in the morning to clean it off.
However, a local woman wants you to hear her warning – first.
On a beautiful day, there could be a line of dozens at the car wash but a local woman said her choice to go through the line might cost her thousands.
As soon as the soap came down on her car, Nicole Simmons knew something was wrong.
"I was shaking and I was flipping out, and I was so scared to look at the damage because I knew how bad it was," she said.
Nicole had just bought her 2023 Toyota in September but said when she got it washed at the Tidal Wave Auto Spa in Buford on Feb. 1, her car somehow came off the track.
"I couldn't even see anything, so I couldn't tell, I just kept getting hit into and hit in to and I knew my car was getting damaged. And I was scared for myself, too. 'What if glass breaks? What if something came in the car... What if we got hit into by dangerous large equipment?'" she said.
Nicole was with her brother Hunter Simmons and they said the attendant guided her car onto the automated track and it started off fine when the car wash equipment malfunctioned.
"When we got out of there, there was gashes all over the right side, indentations and breakage of the headlight," he said.
A mechanic estimated it would cost $1,600 to fix the damage.
Hunter said an attendant at Tidal Wave took their names and pictures of the damage at the scene.
"They have said all kinds of silly things to me, like, you should have honked your horn, or your car shouldn't have been in there. How am I supposed to know that? They don't give you a warning ahead of time, they don't make you sign a waiver," Nicole said.
Personal Injury Attorney Bruce Hagan said she has a point.
"From a legal standpoint, yes, the car wash should be held liable for the damage they caused. But, it's up to the injured party, the party with the property damage, to prove damage was caused by the negligence of the car wash," Hagan said.
Tidal Wave wouldn't respond to 11Alive's repeated attempts to ask questions but does have a statement on its website. It said in part, "we cannot be held responsible for collisions due to braking, steering, or driving in car wash tunnel or paint or electrical issues."
Hagan said it's on consumers to protect themselves.
"So what can you do in a situation like this? Have your cameras rolling as you go through the car wash, take a video of the condition of your car before you go in the wash and after. Immediately when you notice a problem, bring it to the attention of the folks there before you leave the property," he said.
The Simmons said they did all that – and searching online – they found out they're not the only ones.
"I went on and saw reviews from people all over with damage from Tidal Wave from $20 to $800 and they didn't do anything about it," Nicole and Hunter's mother Teri Simmons said.
The family said they've been calling Tidal Wave for a month trying to get them to take responsibility for damages.
"This isn't a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when it's going to happen to your car," she said.
11Alive called, emailed, and went to Tidal Wave Auto Spa in person – but they would not comment on the damages to the Simmons' car.
Her family is now thinking of hiring an attorney.