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Mechanic screwed me over...

CellarDoorCellarDoor Registered User regular
edited August 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi PA forum, I really need some advice/help, before I start let me say I know NOTHING about cars. I put my car into the local garage recently for a small problem. The car had recently just been there because that same mechanic (Owner/Mechanic) put in an engine belt and it was making a really loud obnoxious noise when started. So I took it back and told him to fix it, because he had put it on wrong or messed up something. He takes it back and 10 days later gives it back and it is still NOT FIXED and he says he found several other problems. He charged me for the fix and the problems, so I took it right back up and told him to do the job right because it was getting pretty ridiculous at this point, keep in mind I need this car to get to work.

I finally get the car back the other day and as soon as I turn it on the engine light comes up, this has NEVER happened before. I take the car out for a test drive and the temperature light comes on... I luckily get to my brothers house before it stalls on the highway. I try pouring water into the car so I could at least get home. I pour it in and I can hear it draining as fast as it goes in. I look under the car and there is a huge leak of the water holding thing (No car lingo)... Once again, never had a problem with this before... This is all just magical. I decide F this guy and take it to a GM mechanic so I can just get it fixed right. I had only ever taken it to him because my grandma said she would help me with the bill in installments with that specific mechanic because we live in a small town and he said he would accept small payments a little at a time until the bill is paid.

I get the freaking bill and it is ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! I thought it was a joke. Nope. My question is, is there something I can do about this? I got screwed out of a PERFECTLY good car by this guy and then he charges me 11,000 dollars for nothing? The thing still doesn't work! Because now I can't get a new car that I need for my job and I also have bills to pay. I cannot afford 11,000 dollars on something that should have been 200 max. I. Need. Help.

CellarDoor on

Posts

  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited August 2011
    You said he fixed other things that he found. Did he ever give you an estimate in writing? Did he ever speak to you about the repairs he found and needed to do? What does the bill say that he repaired?

    Skoal Cat on
    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    So who wants the $1,100? The "GM mechanic" or the local guy? And is it a thousand dollars, or eleven- thousand?

    What did the other guy say? Unless he's crap too, he should be able to tell somewhat what the first one did - either fixing or making things worse.

    Guess you can go down there to the first guy and explain the car has gotten worse - bring a friend/brother or have them write down what's wrong, so you'll understand what he's saying.

    Jokerman wrote: »
    If sigs were still a thing this would be mine.
  • CellarDoorCellarDoor Registered User regular
    1,100 my bad, and that is the local guy who wants that. I never got an estimate of price. He told me what he was "fixing". I haven't gotten an Official in writing bill, i was just informed by him its going to total around 1,100 dollars.

  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    I'm pretty sure mechanics need to provide something up front listing repairs and estimated (not exact) costs, but this could be proper business practice and not law.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Ok, so call or go there tomorrow and ask for a detail on what's being done before anything else is added on.

    Unfortunately mechanics have the bad rep for a reason, but the best defense is knowledge. Once he gives you a breakdown, look up the stuff and see if it's reasonable.
    Skoal Cat wrote:
    I'm pretty sure mechanics need to provide something up front listing repairs and estimated (not exact) costs, but this could be proper business practice and not law.

    Doing a quick Google it looks like at the state level, most do require it.

    MichaelLC on
    Jokerman wrote: »
    If sigs were still a thing this would be mine.
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    Also, for finding your next mechanic
    http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechx/

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    Sounds like the mechanic is trying to screw you over and if you didn't agree in writing to the exact repairs being done for the exact specified amount of money he doesn't have any real recourse.

    He can try suing you for the money but I doubt he will win.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    You tell him "no."

    And if he threatens to sue you, tell him you're going to tell everyone in town what a shit job he did on your car, bring it up to the BBB, file a complaint with the attorney general's office, and countersue him, bringing along the documentation from the dealership you brought it to.

    He said he fixed your car for you three times and then you had to take it to a GM mechanic, after what sounds like over two weeks of being without a car. Dude can fuck right the hell off. There is no such thing as a "reasonable charge" for not fixing your car three times. The "reasonable charge" for that is "we're very sorry we fucked up."

    Thanatos on
  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    If you can prove that your cooling system was fine before you took it to this guy, you should be in the green in case he tries something legally. If the leak is as bad as you say it is, anyone who's seen you pull into work and not seen a gallon of water on the ground 5 minutes later would make a fine witness. Thanatos brings up a good point about ruining his reputation, especially if the town is as small as you make it sound; word of mouth is how a lot of mechanics get business.

    mts wrote: »
    heres how i see it being a total win situation for you
    1. stay with your wife while she dog sits. this wins husband points since she knows its out of your comfort zone
    2. have sex all over her friends house so that the next time you see her friend look at you condescendingly, you can wink back knowing you did the freaky deaky where she eats her cheerios.
  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    While I agree in principal what everyone is saying (that a mechanic cannot charge to repair things that you did not ask for) you might be in a bit of a legal grey area.

    Say fix my car and leaving it is a very vague and all encompassing statement. There could have been a whole bunch of things wrong with it and he could have gone to town on it.

    I am by no means saying this is anything but ethically questionable, just saying what may happen. See if you can call a law firm with a free first call. They will probably tell you to get them (or you) to write a letter detailing that you will not be paying the bill as you did not contract him to perform thise tasks.

    Blake T on
  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    Additionally, did you ask the guys at the GM place what they thought was wrong with the radiator?

    If you could get a statement from them saying it looks like it has been incorrectly installed that could help if it does go to small claims.

  • MentalExerciseMentalExercise Indefenestrable Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Thanatos wrote:
    You tell him "no."

    And if he threatens to sue you, tell him you're going to tell everyone in town what a shit job he did on your car, bring it up to the BBB, file a complaint with the attorney general's office, and countersue him, bringing along the documentation from the dealership you brought it to.

    He said he fixed your car for you three times and then you had to take it to a GM mechanic, after what sounds like over two weeks of being without a car. Dude can fuck right the hell off. There is no such thing as a "reasonable charge" for not fixing your car three times. The "reasonable charge" for that is "we're very sorry we fucked up."

    MentalExercise on
    "More fish for Kunta!"

    --LeVar Burton
  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    In California you are required to give an estimate of repairs, and a list of repairs you will be doing before work is done. If you do not... well the customer can just refuse to pay and then it goes to court. If no documents were signed, he may be able to, at best, get back the parts he installed but the labor etc he is fucked on.

    I am unaware what state you live in, but I would tell the mechanic to go shove it. Sounds like he either pulled the hose on your radiator, or he punctured it. ~200 for a radiator depending on size +100 in labor is probably a going amount to change that. If you can document that he actually damaged your car you have the case to instead sue him for the repairs that the other shop did.

    Anecdote: A friend of mine's uncle owns a shop and told me I could bring it in to have some transmission problems fixed. They threw it up on the riser and took a look at it, I got under too. replaced the seal on the drive shaft, and they argued about replacing the entire thing. They didn't want to release the car to me until I paid for a part they started installation on, saying the one i have was damaged. Told them to prove it, got under the car with them and they showed me a perfectly fine output shaft that was moving in an awkward way. So I decided to take a closer look at my transmission, saw I had a cracked differential housing and told them to put my shit back together so i could be on my way. They tried to charge me for the $190 part THEY ordered, + $300 extra labor for something i didn't need. I was staring at a $600 dollar bill for them wasting 6 hours of my time, as well as a $900 problem that I myself found in 5 minutes under the car.

    Basically told him to shove it, I'll pay the $90 for the shaft seal change but other than that i don't owe a dime. He refused to release my car so I threatened to sue. If i need work done that is out of my skill level i only go to dealers now.

    Bendery It Like Beckham on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Than has absolutely the right idea. I have little to add other than that my trustworthy and great mechanic took my Civic into the garage to try to fix some electrical degradation and minor issues which were causing a CEL and therefore a failed inspection. He worked on it for a weekend and in the end he couldn't eliminate the CEL. I was charged not one penny, because he couldn't fix the issue.

    Few mechanics are that honest, but this guy sounds like quite the piece of work.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    What Thanatos said, don't give them a dime and be prepared to secure a quality Lawyer. Get a writeup from the company that screwed up and from the one that fixed it so you have a records.

    Your paper trail and time-line will be very important if this goes to Lawyers.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    I will agree with what everyone else said. This is also why I pay the premium on dealership repairs because while I may pay more in parts they have a better reason not to fuck my car over so I come back more often when I shop there for new cars when the car eventually goes belly up.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I don't think you need to talk to a lawyer for this (or, at the very least, you don't need one yet). You're talking about $1100, which is not a lot of money.

    If he tries to take you to court over it, maybe, but even then, it will probably be small claims, and somehow I don't think a small claims judge is going to have a lot of sympathy for a mechanic that took your car for two weeks and didn't fix it.

    Thanatos on
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Thanatos wrote:
    I don't think you need to talk to a lawyer for this (or, at the very least, you don't need one yet). You're talking about $1100, which is not a lot of money.

    If he tries to take you to court over it, maybe, but even then, it will probably be small claims, and somehow I don't think a small claims judge is going to have a lot of sympathy for a mechanic that took your car for two weeks and didn't fix it.


    Can't mechanics put liens on cars they've worked on for non-payment? I'd be a bit more concerned about that than getting sued in in small claims.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    I don't think you need to talk to a lawyer for this (or, at the very least, you don't need one yet). You're talking about $1100, which is not a lot of money.

    If he tries to take you to court over it, maybe, but even then, it will probably be small claims, and somehow I don't think a small claims judge is going to have a lot of sympathy for a mechanic that took your car for two weeks and didn't fix it.


    Can't mechanics put liens on cars they've worked on for non-payment? I'd be a bit more concerned about that than getting sued in in small claims.

    Not without a court order I don't think.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Djeet wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    I don't think you need to talk to a lawyer for this (or, at the very least, you don't need one yet). You're talking about $1100, which is not a lot of money.

    If he tries to take you to court over it, maybe, but even then, it will probably be small claims, and somehow I don't think a small claims judge is going to have a lot of sympathy for a mechanic that took your car for two weeks and didn't fix it.


    Can't mechanics put liens on cars they've worked on for non-payment? I'd be a bit more concerned about that than getting sued in in small claims.

    Not without a court order I don't think.

    No, they can't. That would require a lengthy court preceding and the award of a judgement for non-payment. The best bet is to tell this guy to shut up, get paperwork and a paper-trail from both mechanics, but especially the one who actually fixed the issue, and brace for potential un-fun complications. Bonus points if you can get a letter/proof from the second mechanic that the damage was not "wear and tear" but, in fact, caused by the poor work of the first guy.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Bonus points would turn into "I can sue this guy for damages in small claims court and possibly have his motor vehicle repair license/certification revoked."

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    What did he fix? What was even broken? What is still broken? If you tell us this then we might be able to tell you if 1,100 $ is outrageous or not.

    Honestly, 1100 isn't that much in the world of car repair. I wouldn't start threatening to sue or whatever the hell until you figure out if you actually have gotten screwed or not. I took my car to get fixed and then after that the coolant tank started leaking isn't exactly the smoking gun for him cheating you. Shit starts to leak sometimes.

    You drove the car while it was overheating all the way home and then it stalled? Not shut off, stalled as in the engine stopped running on its own? That is very bad. Never drive an overheating car. EVER. Do you know if the car even starts now? You could have permanently fucked yourself.

    I don't have courage but I have something else.
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    <snip>

    No, they can't. That would require a lengthy court preceding and the award of a judgement for non-payment. The best bet is to tell this guy to shut up, get paperwork and a paper-trail from both mechanics, but especially the one who actually fixed the issue, and brace for potential un-fun complications. Bonus points if you can get a letter/proof from the second mechanic that the damage was not "wear and tear" but, in fact, caused by the poor work of the first guy.

    Is it really that difficult to get the lien though? My understanding is non-payment is a fairly big problem for mechanics (one reason a lot of shops have a number of cars for sale), and that they'd have buttoned down the process of securing the lien. But I don't rightly know. If there was no contract then I think the mechanic is going to have a hard time securing one.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I think they still have to file suit, then go to the DMV and do the paperwork after judgement from a court. You pretty much have to know they fucked you over with non-payment.

    I imagine a seedy mechanic that fucks with peoples cars is probably not going to go through proper channels to get payment. If he does he's pretty boneheaded to prove all of this shit, especially letting something like a leak roll off his lot and cause further problems. This screams "shitty mechanic" from afar. $1100 sounds like the right ballpark for repairs on a car, but, everything else just seems like OP is getting fucked with a steam-punk dildo.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • CellarDoorCellarDoor Registered User regular
    Wow thanks for all the comments. There haven't really been very many developments since last night. I borrowed my friends truck so I have a vehicle at least. When the temp light came on I left the car where it was and had it towed back to the shop. I did not drive it. I am going to take what you guys said into consideration and let you know what my next move is before I do it. and 1,100 dollars may not be a lot but I don't have it. Especially since I only expected a bill for fixing a belt he screwed up in the first place.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    We're not saying $1100 isn't a lot of money in the sense that it isn't a lot of money to most people; we're saying that it isn't a lot of money in the sense that it's not enough to justify hiring a lawyer at this point.

  • CellarDoorCellarDoor Registered User regular
    Oh yea I agree, lawyers are a pain for sure.

  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    Blake T wrote:
    While I agree in principal what everyone is saying (that a mechanic cannot charge to repair things that you did not ask for) you might be in a bit of a legal grey area.

    Say fix my car and leaving it is a very vague and all encompassing statement. There could have been a whole bunch of things wrong with it and he could have gone to town on it.

    I am by no means saying this is anything but ethically questionable, just saying what may happen. See if you can call a law firm with a free first call. They will probably tell you to get them (or you) to write a letter detailing that you will not be paying the bill as you did not contract him to perform thise tasks.

    Not really, this is how fixing a car works:

    You sign a piece of paper saying you're paying either A: nothing, as you're signing for a free inspection to find out what is wrong, or B: you're paying some money, say 80 bucks or so, for an inspection involving electronics etc or whatever.

    At this point you're on the hook for either nothing or the 80 bucks or whatever you agree to. Then they call you back and tell you what is wrong with the car, what it will cost, and you come back in and sign agreeing to all of the repairs and for how much. If these steps were all skipped this becomes a huge my word/his word circle jerk that won't go anywhere.

    This guy sounds shady presuming he DID repair your car without you signing anything

  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    I want to just note that, in my experience, there's little of signing papers. Generally a machanic will list off a bunch of stuff once they've looked and ask for verbal approval. I don't think I've ever, from multiple places, been asked to sign anything in advance. I wouldn't call that a problem, exactly, aside from the predatory nature of the service.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Dealerships usually make you sign. Only because it's easy to prove you wanted the work done that way. Mechanics otherwise are usually hit or miss with verbal there.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Dealerships usually make you sign. Only because it's easy to prove you wanted the work done that way. Mechanics otherwise are usually hit or miss with verbal there.

    My last car was all strictly dealer serviced and anything beyond routine maintenance was always an over the phone verbal agreement. As I dropped the car off in the morning and picked it up that night it would have actually been impossible for me to sign anything for them.

    YMMV on the signing thing.

    I did always get given an explicit request for each repair as well as how much parts and labor would be for each item. Anything less than that is really shady.

  • SliderSlider Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Thanatos wrote:
    You tell him "no."

    And if he threatens to sue you, tell him you're going to tell everyone in town what a shit job he did on your car, bring it up to the BBB, file a complaint with the attorney general's office, and countersue him, bringing along the documentation from the dealership you brought it to.

    He said he fixed your car for you three times and then you had to take it to a GM mechanic, after what sounds like over two weeks of being without a car. Dude can fuck right the hell off. There is no such thing as a "reasonable charge" for not fixing your car three times. The "reasonable charge" for that is "we're very sorry we fucked up."

    This.

    Thanatos is correct.

    A few years ago, I took my motorcycle to a shop in Issaquah and told them to fix the problem I was having. $700 later and the problem still wasn't fixed.

    I made a big scene and told them that I wanted my money back. Problem solved. He gave me my money back and I took my bike to somebody who knew what they were doing.

    Slider on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Dealerships usually make you sign. Only because it's easy to prove you wanted the work done that way. Mechanics otherwise are usually hit or miss with verbal there.

    My last car was all strictly dealer serviced and anything beyond routine maintenance was always an over the phone verbal agreement. As I dropped the car off in the morning and picked it up that night it would have actually been impossible for me to sign anything for them.

    YMMV on the signing thing.

    I did always get given an explicit request for each repair as well as how much parts and labor would be for each item. Anything less than that is really shady.

    Ah yeah of course. If I went to the place I'd sign, or they'd hop out and ask if something came up. Over the phone it was verbal too until I got there to sign that I'd pay it.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Registered User regular
    Again, super shady that he didn't call you and ask before supposedly repairing things you didn't even know there was a problem with. They should always ask before fixing something that they found, not simply fixing it while they are in there. Also him fixing a belt that he screwed up shouldn't cost extra. You paid him for the engine belt and installing it, and took it back shortly after because the belt was making noise, him fixing the noise shouldn't cost anything since it's pretty clear it's directly due to something he did since he JUST installed it. From that point it just goes down hill.

    My wife's car is in the shop right now, at the dealership. She took it in because her check engine light came on and there were also some optional recalls she needed fixed, and the belt on her AC was squealing if the AC was set to "on" when she cranked the car. So the belt was stretched and was starting to dry rot so that was replaced and the engine light was from a sticking purge solenoid, so that's being replaced. The guy called her at least twice to give her a heads up and ask her what she wanted done and get verbal confirmation to proceed with the work. He gave her estimated costs of just the materials and then an estimate total cost.

    NEWrockzomb80.jpg
  • illigillig Registered User regular
    Can you tell us exactly what was the problem and what was done to fix it, both times?

    Not to be an ass, but people unfamiliar with cars tend to assume all repairs are a rip off, and speaking about it in vague terms doesn't allow us to give you good feedback.

    For all we know that "engine belt" was a timing belt which was replaced along with a waterpump. Or a serpentine belt driving a seized AC compressor, etc etc.

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