How Long Can a Car Mechanic Hold Your Car?
Your Car is usually your main source of transport and thus an essential part of your everyday life. Should an auto body shop take too long with your Car, there are a variety of legal options you can choose to right this wrong.
If you’re asking can I sue mechanic for taking too long to deliver, then the answer is yes? However, this should be the last resort after trying all other avenues. Taking legal action can be a long and complex process that could eat up much of your time. It’s also a potentially costly endeavor to undertake. Settling matters outside the court is usually a better alternative when possible.
The length of time a car mechanic can legally hold your car without fixing it can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the situation. However, in general, mechanics are required to make a reasonable effort to complete repairs in a timely manner.
If you feel you have no other option, however, then you should take the following steps before filing a case:
Establish Your Claims
You will need some proper evidence before taking any legal action if you’re to win your case. If a mechanic is taking too long with your Car, for example, then you will need proof to support your claim.
Getting documentation showing how long your vehicle has been in the shop, for instance, is the first step in backing your complaint. You should also research issues such as how long can a mechanic legally keep your car.
You will also need information such as the average period the services you requested should take. This can be obtained by visiting other body shops and comparing and contrasting the timelines involved.
Should the mechanic have a valid reason for the delay, such as the lack of a particular spare part – this excuse should be examined for falseness and frailties. You can do this by finding out how hard it really is to get the item in question.
Inform The Mechanic of Your Intention
In some cases, getting a lawyer to officially notify the mechanic of your intent to take legal action is all it takes to get their attention. As mentioned earlier, going to court can be a costly process – making it something any business would rather avoid.
The use of a lawyer shows the seriousness of your intent and could urge them to seek a more amicable solution.
How to File a Complaint
There are a variety of options available when it comes to filing a complaint against your mechanic. The avenue chosen will depend on a variety of factors, including the availability of these alternatives in your region. Filing your complaint with the relevant organization is crucial to your potential success.
Filing a Complaint with the DMV
The best avenue for such an issue would be the DMV business regulation section. One of the main advantages of taking this route is that this board is likely to be aware of any previous complaints against the auto shop.
They have a consumer complaint center where you can lodge your complaint, after which an investigation will be conducted before a conclusion is made.
It should be noted, however, that this body doesn’t investigate some issues such as improper repairs or a misdiagnosis by a mechanic.
This option is not available in every region
The states that have this regulatory board include, Wyoming, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, California, Oregon, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
To file this complaint, simply fill in the consumer complaint form available online. Once this is done, you should make two copies and sign both. One copy should be sent to the DMV with the other going to the auto body shop in question.
It’s important to clearly indicate what the source of your complaint is, such as stating the dealership has had my car for a month. Any paperwork backing your claims should also be included with the submission.
If the DMV in your area doesn’t have a business regulation sector, then you can take up a different avenue to settle the matter.
Filing a Small Claims Case
The small claims court is the next best avenue to use when looking to sue your mechanic. The primary benefit of this alternative is that it’s available in every state.
To do this, you will need to fill in a form known as a small claims writ and notice of suit. This document is available online or at physical court locations. It should contain all the relevant information involved in your case.
For the document to be valid, your signature should be officially notarized. This can be accomplished by a notary public, court clerk, or a commissioner of the superior court.
The complaint should be signed in front of the person performing the notarization. You will also need to take an oath at this time, which will also be signed by the notary.
Filing this claim comes with a $95 fee that is to be paid upon submission of the complaint. Should you win the case, this charge will be added to the value awarded to recompense your expenses.
You should note that small claims courts have a limit to the amount of money awarded to a case. This figure lies between $5000 and $15000 depending on the state.
Filing a Complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The CFPB has recently branched out and can also be a valid avenue to address your complaints with an auto body shop. This complaint can be filed on their website, via telephone, or through an official letter. Their services are available in over 180 languages, making the aspect of communication even easier.
Once your complaint has been lodged, it’s stored in the consumer complaint database that is available to the public and given a case number. The charge is also forwarded to the company involved, after which they have 15 days to offer an official response. If the auto body shop denies the allegations involved, then the case can be forwarded to the CFPB’s enforcement division.
In conclusion, trying to work out the issue between you and your mechanic before going to court should be the first step you take. This can save you from a prolonged legal battle, as well as allow you to maintain a good relationship with the mechanic.
Cases Worthy of Suing a Mechanic
Car repairs are a scary venture especially if you are dealing with a dodgy mechanic. We, however, do have good mechanics that will care for your car like it’s their own. But you never know when you will be stuck between a stone and a hard place, as you try to get your car fixed.
Fret not, however, as we will highlight for you some of the vices that you shouldn’t tolerate.
When you buy a car it normally comes with a warranty that clearly states where the car can be fixed with regard to faults developed in the car and not caused by you. The warranties do have a stipulated length, so if you are still within the warranty period and the auto shop refuses to cover the cost of repairs or refuses to replace the parts as stipulated by the warranty, then you will have to sue them so that they can honor the demands of the warranty.
By doing a substandard job the mechanic is putting your life and the life of other road users at risk. Repairs to your automobile should be of good standard and durable; if the replaced parts are not functional and the mechanic refuses to get other functional equipment then you are within your rights to sue.
Having a car does not necessarily mean that you have to know all the parts and their functions at once, but you can always keep a keen eye at your mechanic because of all the gory garage stories around. Mechanics are well aware that you don’t know the inner operations of your car and will easily deceive you into thinking that they have replaced a new part, yet they haven’t.
Though it may not be easy to put a finger on fraud, once you find any don’t hesitate to sue and protect those who will be coming behind you or yourself when you go back.
If you are not keen with mechanics they will take advantage of your naivety, before any repair work is done on your car ensure that you have been given a breakdown of the total estimates.
What they are going to repair and how much it will cost. Most states do have consumer protection laws that require the auto shops to give their clients the details of their repairs before they commence. So if they fail to do this it would be best to find a lawyer.
The Mechanic's Lien
A mechanics lien can be a tight corner for new drivers but what you need to know is that if you are not careful then the lien might not be filed in the correct time, without the proper notice, and for the wrong property.
Besides the lien must be filed by the right entity and if you are not conversant with how it operates then seek advice from a consumer protection lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Call the Cops on The Mechanics?
If you have proof or are suspicious that the mechanic is not being honest with you or has done something to your car, then you can call the police. Some will give out your car for a brief moment and it will be brought back with damages that you know weren’t there and might attempt to deny or charge you for it.
Can I Report a Dealership?
If you have complaints about your car that you will like them to be looked at, then file it with a dealer, lender or manufacturer. If nothing good is forthcoming then you can take your complaint to the state or a federal government agency.
For example, you could go to your state’s attorney general if you are having problems with your car warranty.
Taking a mechanic or dealer to court should be a last resort. All other angles of achieving a sensible solution should have been covered first. Mechanics and dealers are not perfect, but they normally have backing behind them and can find reason for taking so long to complete repairs. It could end up costing more than your car is worth.