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-   -   What are my options/legal rights? (https://rennlist.com/forums/928-forum/765379-what-are-my-options-legal-rights.html)

flyrade 07-09-2013 09:24 AM

What are my options/legal rights?
 
This is an on-going saga trying to get my car out of the shop. For some background please search "flyrade" and review posts on engine temp gauge, auto insurance and is my mechanic blowing smoke.

I went by to check on my car yesterday, and very little - if any - work has been performed on the engine in the past week. We are at the 8 week point now since I brought the car in for him to service the a/c. He found some wiring that was eaten by rodents, and the insurance company paid $1,450 for the repairs. He said while he had part of the engine apart, this would be a good time to replace the timing belt, water pump, and plugs. I agreed.

Now he apparently has done much more work. The valve covers are off and he says he has replaced parts there, and retimed the cams. He never told me what he was going to do, and I never approved this added work.

In any case, all I want is my car back - and he won't complete the job. Now I have to think what are my options and what legal recourse do I have?

One option I'm considering is telling him if the car is not returned to me by this Friday that I'm going to get a flat bed and have the car taken to another shop. However, suppose that shop wants to take apart any other work that this original shop did - saying they can't guarantee any work without doing so? That will be a lot of added expense. Then suppose they get the car and some parts are missing? Who is liable? As you can see, a real can of worms.

Another option is to get in touch with the insurance company. Since all this started as a wiring problem, and he already paid to have it fixed, do they have any leverage with the mechanic to get him to complete the job?

A third option is to tell the mechanic if I don't get the court by Friday that I'm going to hire a lawyer to see what my legal options are, and to take him to court if necessary.

I also have to consider that he may have lost some critical parts to the engine, or that he does not have the skilled people to complete the job. However, he continues to tell me there is only a little work left and it should be finished in a couple of days. Of course I have no confidence in anything he tells me.

I would appreciate your comments, especially if you are a mechanic or a lawyer, and can give me an idea of my best options and what my rights are to get him to complete the work in a timely manner.

123quattro 07-09-2013 10:08 AM

I don't know Florida law. However, if this happened in MI all work that was done without your approval does not have to be paid for. I would do some legal internet searching on FL law and see what you can turn up.

Courtshark 07-09-2013 10:24 AM

You're in a tight spot, unfortunately. I'd recommend against escalating to lawsuit threats just yet. It's a bit of he said-she said here, as the tech could just say you authorized him to fix the car by whatever means necessary. And then it comes down to who a judge believes. ($ involved not enough for a jury trial). Typically repairs must be authorized before work is performed. I believe some states require it in writing. But in this case, work had already begun, so it's hard to say where the authorized work began and ended. And he's done some work so he has sweat equity in it; if you refused to pay the bill he could sue you and put a mechanics lien on your car. You would be "unjustly enriched" if you received his free labor and perhaps free parts. This could be offset by the cost of having somewhere else fix what he allegedly damaged or failed to do.

Taking it to another shop, as you say, is not ideal at this point. But if you have no faith in the shop currently working on the car, what choice do you have? Tough call. :banghead: He says it will be "done" soon; set a firm deadline with him. And a good option short of a lawsuit that might spur him on would be to advise the tech that you intend to contact the state consumer protection office to see how they feel about all of this. Florida also has a better business bureau. I think the best option, unfortunately, includes allowing this shop to attempt to complete the work they've begun.

Not sure what to say about getting insurance involved. Did they select this shop? Didn't realize insurance covered rodent damage, either! Good to know. Keep in mind the shop also likely has its own insurance (hopefully) that will defend him if sued, and perhaps also pursue a mechanics lien against you.

So... Play nice but be honest and firm with him. Once its "done" get the car back and go from there.

tda1 07-09-2013 10:37 AM

There is a group in just about every state called BAR or Bureau of Automotive Repair. This group are like the better business bureau for cars. If you contact them they can act as mediators and if necessary revoke their licenses. If you haven't authorized work and they are charging you for it...that is one course of action you could take.

Ducman82 07-09-2013 10:39 AM

i would get the "done" date in writing. a write up of what has been done and costs. any invoice that you signed when you dropped the car off?

Leon Speed 07-09-2013 10:54 AM

I would request a detailed list of parts and labour up to now, a detailed list of parts and labour needed to finish the car. See if you can identify what wasn't part of the deal (stuff under cam covers is not typically part of a tb job) and try to work out a deal with him about that. For example, invoicing a reasonable labor time and rate instead of book time plus the cost of parts instead of cost plus profit margin (this is for the not approved work). Also agree in writing a fixed date for when work should be completed. A deal is in the best interest of you both, you have your car back and in hopefully good running order, he gets paid for his work.

SeanR 07-09-2013 10:57 AM

The factory way to time the cams is to remove the cam/valve covers and it would be really dumb to not replace the gaskets that come off when you remove them. So this is completely normal for a shop who doesn't know about the Porken 32vR tool for timing cams. What takes 6-10 hours can now be done in 30 minutes.

From the timeline of your posts, it actually sounds like he is working on the car and trying to get it done quickly, I'm sure he doesn't want the car there any longer either.

Eplebnista 07-09-2013 10:59 AM

One place to start reading - Florida Department of Consumer Protection:

http://www.800helpfla.com/motorveh.html

Leon Speed 07-09-2013 11:00 AM

^^^^^ Sean

Good point, that makes sense.

FredR 07-09-2013 12:50 PM

I think the question I would ask is what did he see that gave him reason to suspect the cam timing was out? it is not unreasonable that the chap might not know about the 32VR tool that some of us use these days but anyone who knows anything about these cars also knows that trying to do the timing with a new belt is not the best thing to do albeit sometimes there is no choice. Was/is he checking the timing with the old belt still on or is he trying to do it with a new belt? If so, why?

Doubtless Sean can advise you how best/what to ask in this regard. Similarly you might also indirectly try to find out if he parked number 1 cylinder at 45 degrees to protect the valves. It is one thing knowing about the infamous 928 timing belt/water pump but it is another thing knowing how to do it correctly and I would want firm evidence that anyone working on my motor in that regard knows exactly what he is about.

If the parts he is replacing amount to cam cover gaskets then that is how it should be- if it is other parts again I would ask questions. In any event, there is no way he should have barelled into the cam cover without your specific permission irrespective of his motives/suspicions. There is no linkage between replacing a timing belt and cam timing other than ensuring the cam wheels are in the correct relative position when putting the belt back on.

Whatever you do, give the chap the benefit of the doubt until such time as you are sure he did something decidedly dodgy. Hopefully he is not covering up something stupid like allowing the valves to clout the pistons- highly unlikely but stranger things have happened when the appropriate requirements have not been met.

Regards

Fred

NordicSaab 07-09-2013 01:18 PM

I live 20 minutes from you. We grab my truck and trailer. Load up the car and parts and take it somewhere else to be serviced properly. Problem solved :)

depami 07-09-2013 02:30 PM


Originally Posted by NordicSaab (Post 10597029)
I live 20 minutes from you. We grab my truck and trailer. Load up the car and parts and take it somewhere else to be serviced properly. Problem solved :)

Problem NOT solved, car still not running. Could actually be the beginning of larger problem.

I'd like to hear the mechanic's side of the story.

auzivision 07-09-2013 02:45 PM

Besides cam cover gaskets, it could be normal to replace the chain tensioner guide or whatever that is called. However, I'd be concerned that this mechanic is "looking" for items to repair thinking he has an open checkbook.

What started as an A/C service turned into an overpriced electrical repair on an otherwise normally operating vehicle. Then while he is in there might as well to a T/B and WP, but Oh, I don't have the cam timing tool.

Trying to assume the best, but some of this sounds fishy. I've changed one timing belt, WP, and completed an intake refresh in less than 8 weeks, working part time slowly learning as I went.

If it were me, I'd insist on an itemized list and dollar figure on what has been completed as well as an itemized list and estimate on what he is still planning. From what you have provided, there is no good reason why your car shouldn't be back in your possession by the end of the week. How much "hardball" you want to play is your call, but I wouldn't play much until I regained possession.

Not sure if this will work for automotive repair, but possibly paying with a credit card will allow you to dispute the charges after you regain possession. The few times (twice in my life) I felt ripped off, I did this and won both times. Then there is the whole mechanics lien thing protecting them too so it could back fire, but then again may gain you independent arbitration without going to court.

GregBBRD 07-09-2013 05:48 PM


Originally Posted by Courtshark (Post 10596501)
You're in a tight spot, unfortunately. I'd recommend against escalating to lawsuit threats just yet. It's a bit of he said-she said here, as the tech could just say you authorized him to fix the car by whatever means necessary. And then it comes down to who a judge believes. ($ involved not enough for a jury trial). Typically repairs must be authorized before work is performed. I believe some states require it in writing. But in this case, work had already begun, so it's hard to say where the authorized work began and ended. And he's done some work so he has sweat equity in it; if you refused to pay the bill he could sue you and put a mechanics lien on your car. You would be "unjustly enriched" if you received his free labor and perhaps free parts. This could be offset by the cost of having somewhere else fix what he allegedly damaged or failed to do.

Taking it to another shop, as you say, is not ideal at this point. But if you have no faith in the shop currently working on the car, what choice do you have? Tough call. :banghead: He says it will be "done" soon; set a firm deadline with him. And a good option short of a lawsuit that might spur him on would be to advise the tech that you intend to contact the state consumer protection office to see how they feel about all of this. Florida also has a better business bureau. I think the best option, unfortunately, includes allowing this shop to attempt to complete the work they've begun.

Not sure what to say about getting insurance involved. Did they select this shop? Didn't realize insurance covered rodent damage, either! Good to know. Keep in mind the shop also likely has its own insurance (hopefully) that will defend him if sued, and perhaps also pursue a mechanics lien against you.

So... Play nice but be honest and firm with him. Once its "done" get the car back and go from there.

Very wise advise^^^^^^me thinks.

If in California, a vehicle owner told a shop he was going to contact the Bureau of Automotive repair.....that shop damn well should/would quickly pay attention and get things resolved. The BAR isn't the agency that any shop "wants" in their shop.....right or wrong.

You need to check and see what you have available in Florida, to protect you.

I'm still betting that the valves are bent, from some "rookie" playing with the cam belt.....

docmirror 07-09-2013 06:12 PM

I already weighed in on this. My position, which I have done before is to demand a current accounting of work done. Up to right now, and give him a written statement to stop work(a stop work order) that states no further work is authorized or will be paid for. You can tell him that you can't afford anymore repairs at this time. Pay his bill, take your car on a flat, and inventory all your parts, and bolts, etc. Get it away from him, and then discuss the rest of the work with a better qualified technician near you.

The important key now is to stop the bleeding. The only way to do that is pay the demand, whether it's right or not and get your car. If your car is being held pending payment, then pay under protest, and once the car is back in your hands, you can investigate the small claims process if you feel that you've been duped into unauthorized work far beyond the scope of what you authorized.

A judge(or JP, or magistrate, whatever) will not look kindly on one of those drag it out stories where the car just keeps getting more, and more, and more piled on it over a long time. This is the kind of stuff that a reasonable person might consider a scam method to unjustly enrich the mech at your expense.

Get current bill, give stop work order.
Pay bill, tow car out.
Investigate new shop.
Sue mech if you think it's worth it.


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