As Lemon Law Paralegals, we are constantly called about car problems. Defective cars are always in the mix and sometimes the calls involve auto repairs. That is, people want to know what they can do when they have been wronged by an auto mechanic. Here are some common issues that callers want us to deal with:
Charging for unnecessary repairs.
It is as bad as it sounds. First, the ‘diagnose’, then the ‘repair’ then, surprise, surprise- the problem is still there. Then the ‘re-diagnose’ as a different problem and another repair. Things get vicious when the original defect is repaired and the customer is left with the bill for all of the repairs. In these instances, not only can you file a lawsuit but it is borderline criminal.
Sometimes to pad their bills, mechanics tell customers non-defective parts need to be replaced. Your brakes need to be resurfaced? They’ll tell you to get them replaced. Other parts on the car can be repaired? They’ll suggest replacement. Like unnecessary repairs, unneeded parts being sold to you is lawsuit worthy and borderline criminal.
This goes on more often than you want to know. We represent clients whose cars were destroyed by repair shop joyriders after work had been performed. Does every mechanic joyride the car after a repair? No. But this is one of the things we are really learning more about with the popularization of dash cameras. However, in instances where there is no damage done to the car, there will not be compensation for it.
Overcharging for parts or labor.
Most shops have a simple markup on parts. They buy them wholesale, mark them up and sell them to you with the job, not many know what an actual part should cost. Can a shop legally charge you more for a water pump than you could buy it for on Amazon? Of course. But, if you are charged $500 for a part that retails for $100, you’ve been had. As for labour, there are time and parts guides which describe how long a repair ought to take, by a competent mechanic. If the operation should take an hour but the mechanic took five hours because he didn’t know what he was doing? You should not be charged for that. The best thing you can do for yourself is to ask in advance, get a quote.
Damaging your car while they have it.
The list is long but some typical things are grease on the seats, mysterious dents in the body panels, parts left off the car, tools left in the car (this one is a hint about the mechanic who worked on your car) items missing from your car, could be change, gps, stereos, cool wheels to name a few.
Some shops will deny responsibility and insist that insurance claim is filed, but that’s not how things go. So if you feel that you’ve been ripped off on your last repair shop visit, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer or a paralegal in the field and ask which remedies are available.