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Maverick
Maverick, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  20 years of proefessional experience
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I wonder weather I should sue the auto repair shop? And if I

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I wonder weather I should sue the auto repair shop? And if I sue, will I win this case?The red light of low engine oil pressure was on and off twice when I commuted to my working place. On the second day, I drove my MINI Cooper to an independent repair shop to check weather there is an issue there. At that time, my car was drivable. They inspected my car, and explained to me that my car has an oil leak issue and they will fix this problem by replacing the balancer, the crank , and etc... After all these work done (1 week work), I was supposed to pick up my car, but the owner of the shop told me, there was a timing chain manufacturer defect. And MINI dealer can fix it for free, cause they have a lawsuit settlement on this defect for MINI Cooper from year 2006 to 2009(my car is year 2009.) I asked him that can I start the engine? And he told me if I start the engine, the engine will over heat and shut down.So I towed my car to MINI dealer. MINI dealer inspected my car, and told me there is no issue with my timing chain. They suggested that because the new balancer was not installed correctly(balancer is loose), which is exactly the repair shop did to my car, the entire engine needs to be rebuilt. Zero compression in three cylinders. Only the forth cylinder has the compression.To testify, I towed my car to another independent repair shop, and was told, the engine was dead.Back to the very beginning, my car was drivable. But now the engine was dead because of unprofessional repair work. I even don't had the chance to drive it again. It is totally dead in the shop.Today, the first shop owner provided a solution to replace my engine on the cheapest price, and claimed that the MINI dealer did something wrong that caused my engine dead. Excuse me?So, In this case, do I have the legal right to sue them? More specifically, do I have the right to request them to redo the work and fix my car for free?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 6 months ago.

Welcome to Just Answer (“JA”)! My name is Maverick.

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Answer will follow in the pane below in a short while….

Expert:  Maverick replied 6 months ago.

It is unlawful under the NJ Auto Repairs Deceptive Practices Regulations and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act for an automotive repair dealer to do, among other things, any of the following:

1. Make any written or oral statements that are misleading and deceptive which the automotive repair dealer knows to be untrue or misleading.

2. Start work without first giving the consumer a written estimate. The total price must be stated either as "price not to exceed" a certain amount or as an exact figure broken down into parts and labor.

3. Make false promises which are likely to influence, persuade, or induce the consumer to authorize the repair, service, or maintenance of the vehicle.

4. Fail to record on an invoice all repair work performed by the automotive repair dealer for a customer. The invoice should clearly and separately itemize the charges for parts and labor and also state whether any new, rebuilt, or used parts were supplied in the repair.

5. Fail to provide a copy to the consumer of any guarantee that clearly discloses all of its terms.

So, it may be that the 1st shop either engaged in fraud or it was negligent and did not honestly know what it was doing.

Questions:

1. I wonder weather I should sue the auto repair shop?

You may want to threaten to sue first by hiring a local lawyer to send a demand letter which may cost you about $200.00. You may also want to sue the shop either in small claims court or higher, depending on the dollar amount that you would be seeking. See this link.

2. And if I sue, will I win this case?

This depends on whether you can get an expert to come testify favorably and he is more credible than whatever counter testimony the 1st shop's mechanic offers. Since the dealer's mechanic inspected the vehicle just after it was towed from the first shop, you would want to find out the name of that mechanic and subpoena him to come testify at trial of the case. Since he would be a fact witness and not a pure expert, he should be permitted to charge a fee for that other that a nominal witness fee which the court rules may provide for.

3. So, In this case, do I have the legal right to sue them?

Yes, it appears that you may be able to sue for negligence because balancer was not installed properly; for breach of contract; and or fraud as discussed above.

4. More specifically, do I have the right to request them to redo the work and fix my car for free?

Sounds like you do. Your best bet is to get paperwork from the dealer that expresses that the balancer was not installed correctly and show that to the 1st shop. If that does not work, you can let them know that you will get someone else to fix it and send them the bill.

More to come...

Expert:  Maverick replied 6 months ago.

If you suspect fraud, I would encourage you to contact a consumer law attorney to send out the demand letter and to follow-up on the case because of this law:

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 56:8-19 of the Consumer Fraud Act, a successful litigant is entitled to recover actual damages, treble damages and “reasonable attorney's fees.”

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