I am in a tough predicament. Brought my car in for an oil change today. Mechanic is the husband of son's teachers from pre-school (i.e., she is a dear friend). I was a couple of thousand miles overdue for oil change, but I have never had ANY problems with my 2004 Toyota Highlander. I don't always bring it to him because his shop is a bit of a distance away and I usually use the place down the block. He sometimes seems insulted by this and jokes about it.
After his guys completed the oil change and he repaired a wiper blade, other small parts, I drove about 5 miles home, picked up my fiance and got on highway. Fiance was behind the wheel when car stopped responding to the accelerator. We pulled over. Fiance checked the oil (the obvious question since I had just returned from mechanic and my fiance has prior experience with cars), no oil at all. Oil all beneath car and around engine. He took some pictures.
Police officer pulls up behind us, calls tow truck; tow truck has to tow me. Naturally, I call my friend/mechanic and he says to come back to the shop. He pays the towing. I assume he will take care of the problem. Everyone is speculating it was probably the plug not put back on or gasket or filter weren't put back properly. I assume "Bob" will take care of it when we get there.
After looking quickly at the car, he says my having waited so long for this oil change caused some type of damage to the sending switch, because it was "flooded" with new oil. My fiance remained quiet as he did not want to intervene in the relationship...he just met "Bob" today and knows I have a long relationship with his wife. Bob has been in business for 30 years at this location. (He and his wife are about 15 years my senior)
He then says I'm going to have to leave the car because "fingers crossed," hopefully nothing happened to my engine.
His wife, who was coincidentally there to do some office work for him, gives me ride
Once home, fiance tells me this is not logical at all and that Bob is not telling the truth.
Later I get a call from Bob who says indeed my motor has been damaged. He asks permission to remove the (oil pan?) to check the extent of damage to the engine.
Meantime, I have called my local mechanic, called the DMV
registered repair shop, speak to people who know cars...all are saying "Bob" should just be forthright and admit he may have caused the problem and that this sending switch excuse makes no sense.
I am hesitant at that point to confront Bob. When we speak and I suggest that I have heard it may have been the gasket or plug or filter, he gets extremely defensive...begins to claim this was an utter coincidence and/or that because of my poor care of the car, this was going to happen regardless. He continues to assure me that he will do his best to assess the damage and if it's only "some of the bearings" on the bottom, he might be able to replace them. I ask what Plan B is, if motor is damaged beyond repair. He says he has already put out calls to people with parts where he might get me a replacement motor.
He knows I just went through a divorce and am in difficult financial straits right now. He says car isn't going to be ready by tomorrow. I let him know I am renting a car. He says not a bad idea. I rent a car for a week ($200). He does not offer to pay. Remains insistant that "he had the bad fortune" of having this inevitable event occur right after he worked on my car. Hates to have to be the bearer of bad news, knows how hard this is,...etc.
He has my car, and offers to bring by my EZ pass tomorrow, bring my house keys, all very amicable.
Now I'm in this predicament of not knowing how to proceed. If it were just a local businessman, I would already be demanding this be addressed properly and I would be letting the mechanic know I would take legal action. However, I live in a small town, these people have been like parent figures to me, especially the wife, and I do not wish to create a contentious situation. The school in which his wife teaches has been my main community support for years.
My thought is to wait this out and see where he goes with it. He may ultimately do the right thing and "eat" the cost of repairs or potential replacement parts. I want to believe he just felt extremely defensive and was trying to save face today.
However, I really am upset with the thought of paying hundreds of dollars in rental car fees, labor and parts, and possibly even end up needing a new car. I'm also angry over being put in this predicament by this person, knowing full well that he's not being honest, but not knowing how to call him on it diplomatically. I keep wishing he will turn around and take ownership
over the error and use his insurance
and make things right.
He also has a very "strong" personality. I am usually a good advocate for myself, but I feel very intimidated by him.
This issue covers many different grounds...legal, car mechanics, emotional...please help!