What can I do about a bad mechanic?
What is a Defective Mechanic Work Lawsuit?
Individuals may bring their automobile to a mechanic for repairs. Repairs are needed for many reasons. Individuals may sue the mechanic for defective mechanic work. Defective mechanic work, also called faulty repair work, occurs when a mechanic negligently makes repairs that result in vehicle damage or injury to people.
What is Defective Mechanic Work?
To repair a vehicle, mechanics may fix, adjust, replace, or remove one or more parts. A mechanic must perform repairs using a reasonable standard of care. This means the mechanic may not act negligently. To make repairs under a reasonable standard of care, a mechanic must use the standard knowledge, skills, professionalism, and “know-how” expected of a mechanic.
To act with skill and professionalism in making repairs, a mechanic must (among other things):
- Ensure that a vehicle brought in for inspection is repaired so it is safe for driving;
- Replace, remove, adjust, or upgrade parts, with the skill expected of a mechanic making such repairs;
- Make only repairs that are necessary; and
- Make only those repairs that a customer authorized.
What is “Reasonable”?
What is “reasonable” in “reasonable standard of care” depends upon the circumstances. If a person brings a vehicle to a mechanic for repairs covered by a warranty, the mechanic must use the skill and care required to make warranty repairs. If a person brings an electric or hybrid vehicle to a mechanic for repairs, the mechanic must use the knowledge and skill that a mechanic who repairs such vehicles is expected to use.
The Mechanic Damaged My Vehicle – What Can I Do?
Question: I took my car in for service and when it was returned, my transmission was no longer working properly. The mechanic said that he didn’t do anything to it, but the vehicle was working perfectly when I left it at his place of business. I am not sure what type of lawyer I need or what I can do about the situation.
First, the type of lawyer that you may need depends on the type of claim that you would like to file. A lawyer can walk you through each possible cause of action and the legal elements that you must establish. If you were to file a lawsuit, you would be known as the plaintiff and you would have the burden of proving the legal elements of your case.
One type of claim that may be available based on your circumstances is a breach of contract. If the mechanic was contracted to perform the work in a skillful manner and he did not, you may be able to sue on these grounds. If the service was provided as part of a warranty on the vehicle, you may have a breach of warranty case. The legal complication of this issue may be that you may not have a contract for the transmission work. Therefore, the mechanic may not have breached his duty if he performed the other work correctly.
Another possible cause of action is negligence. This legal theory is based on the idea that the mechanic owed you a duty to properly repair your vehicle and that by messing up the transmission, he breached the duty. The other elements that you have to prove are causation and damages. Based on your description, damages should be relatively clear as they will amount to the money that you will have to spend to get the transmission fixed.
The biggest legal complication that you are likely to encounter is to prove causation. Your theory will be that the mechanic caused the damage to the vehicle. Based on your description, it sounds like the mechanic will say that he did not do the damage. He may even say that the damage had to be there before you brought the vehicle in, but you may not have been aware of it. Remember, you have the burden of showing the court that the mechanic actually caused this damage. Therefore, you will likely need more than just your word to prove this series of events. For example, you may need to have another mechanic inspect the vehicle and write down his or her observations and opinion about what caused the transmission problem. If you decide to go to court, you will likely need the mechanic to appear in court to provide testimony as a written document of this nature may be considered hearsay.
Signs of a Bad Mechanic
Even if you buy a reliable car, change its oil regularly, and drive carefully, you can’t avoid visits to a mechanic. These repairmen have more training and tools to tackle automotive problems. Finding a trustworthy mechanic can be a challenge. But bad mechanics will do certain things that raise red flags. If you know the signs of a bad mechanic, you’ll be able to waste less of your time and money.
The mechanic isn’t certified
When asked to show proof of certification, a bad mechanic may become defensive and claim they have enough experience to keep you from pressing the issue.
The mechanic is inexperienced
If you take your car to a mechanic who has no idea what they’re doing, you will be charged extra for more hours of labor. A bad mechanic may claim it will take a few days to replace something simple like a tire rod, while it will only take an experienced mechanic an hour or two. Always check to find out how long a fix will take at another auto shop.
The mechanic won’t let you see the old parts
A bad mechanic will try to charge for work by “fixing” something that wasn’t broken in the first place. If you suspect this, always ask to see the old parts. A truthful mechanic will have no problem showing them to you.
The mechanic won’t admit to mistakes
Replacing parts or filters is a relatively routine task, but mistakes can still happen. It may be due to an issue outside of the mechanic’s control, but a good one will still take responsibility. A bad mechanic will pass the blame off instead of admitting they are at fault.
Discuss your concerns with your mechanic
If you are not happy with repair work:
- speak with the repairer and give them a chance to explain and/or fix the problem. Do not just take your car to another repairer
- mention the warranty on parts and repairs
- consider that a problem may be unrelated to the work that was done
- contact your insurance company, if the car is insured.
Times You Can Sue a Mechanic
Car repairs can be a scary prospect. First there’s the cost, the time it will take, and then the worry about the repairs being done right. Most mechanics do good and honest work, and care for our cars like they were their own. But other mechanics on the other hand…
So what happens if you get one of the bad guys? When can you sue a mechanic if they don’t take good care of your car?
- Bad Repairs
First and foremost, mechanics must do good work. You’re there to get a problem fixed, and if it is not fixed properly that could be dangerous for you and other drivers. Not to mention you shouldn’t be charged for non-existent or ineffective auto repairs. If a mechanic improperly installs a part, disables a safety device, otherwise fails to make adequate repairs to your vehicle, you may have a valid lawsuit.
- False Estimates or No Estimates
Most states have consumer protection laws that require auto repair shops to disclose details about repairs before they are done. Under these statutes, mechanics and other service providers must give you a detailed estimate of all work to be done, disclose whether used or rebuilt parts are being installed, and give you a quote for the costs. If your mechanic fails to give you an estimate of the work or fails to honor the estimate, you may want to call a lawyer.
- Breach of Warranty
Often we purchase new and used cars with warranties that cover certain service to the vehicle. These warranties generally come with stipulations regarding what repairs are covered, for how long, and may require you to use specific mechanics. If the mechanics don’t honor the warranty, either to repair the car or in covering the cost, you may need to sue.
Most of us have our guard up when we take our cars to a mechanic. The amount of stories we’ve heard about auto repair scams, coupled with our general unfamiliarity with the inner workings of our automobiles, means we’re already suspicious. But how do you know if your mechanic is taking you for a ride? Actually discovering fraud may be difficult, but if you discover your mechanic has charged you for service or parts he didn’t provide you may be able to sue for damages.
- Invalid Use of a Mechanic’s Lien
There are times when a repair person or company can place a lien on a customer’s property to pay for service or improvements done to the property. This is called a mechanic’s lien, and it is available not just to car mechanics, but to plumbers, painters, carpenters, and construction contractors and subcontractors — anyone who provides a service that improves a customer’s property.