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And this is sadly why I feel compelled to do everything (I can) myself. FWIW I think they're both full of it.

Piece of advice #1 is to henceforth avoid both of these places and find someone competent.

Concur with the assessment Shop #1 is likely responsible. While it's technically possible to replace the wheel bearings with the knuckle on the car, it's generally easier to pull the knuckle and use a proper shop press to remove and install the hub & bearing. Take a look at the outer tie rod end on the passenger side. Does the mounting location on the knuckle look like it's been disturbed? Look like the nut has been off and on? If so, you can probably assume the first shop pulled the whole knuckle and subsequently left the pinch bolt off.

During the course of a standard alignment, there would be no reason to pull the pinch bolt. But there's a lesson learned for using places like Meineke as well.

There they told me that my control arm with ball joint and front suspension were a little loose and I should probably have it taken care of soon (they quoted me $900 for them to do it) but also said it was nothing to worry about and should not be a problem but that was the cause of the noise in the front.
Do you think a competent technician would have noticed a missing pinch bolt during the course of his/her inspection? "Hey boss...this here arm-thing is loose as a goose, but I can't see why..." The control arm has three mounting locations (two bushings and a ball joint. Somebody should have noticed the missing bolt. And $900.00 for replacement? Good God. You can pick up a quality replacement part for less than 75 bucks.

I'm sorry this happened to your car and I'm equally sorry you'll have trouble "proving" fault. Thank God it came off during a low-speed maneuver. That's a beautifully clean first-year cruiser, so hope you find someone to make it right. Looks like you have a slight fender crinkle as well.

Make sure you replace the grease boot on that ball joint before re-installing!
 
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