How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Barrister Your Own Question

Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23529
Experience:  14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
19958803
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Barrister is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hi, I am in a tough predicament. Brought my car in for an

Resolved Question:

Hi,
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!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
.
I would have to agree this is a difficult predicament considering your relationship with his wife.
.
What is your legal question that I can help with tonight?
.
.
Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I"m sorry I logged into the site and the opening page was legal. I wasn't sure if I should direct this to legal or mechanics or some sound emotional support/psychological.


 


I honestly don't know the best way to proceed. I'm not a mechanic. The guy now has my car in his possession. I'm trying to see if he will make amends before going the legal route.


 


Do you think I should be consulting with car mechanics in order to get a sense of what their experience is with how this guy is conducting himself and if there is a best way to approach this? I have a Ph.D. in my own field, but I feel like a novice in the mechanics shop.


 


Please feel free to redirect me if you think this is not yet a legal matter, but one of gathering information. I was totally overwhelmed by the situation today and may not have directed this question properly.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me, barrister. After reviewing my saga above, I want to hone in on the question(s) I have.


 


I guess I'm wondering if what my mechanic is suggesting went wrong is a hands-down impossibility. Until today, I had never even heard of a sending switch. I am not an informed consumer. That's problem number one.


 


If what "Bob" is saying is completely and obviously false acc. to experts, have I put myself at risk of losing any potential legal footing by having brought my car back to him. Also, best way to proceed....from a personal level, pragmatic level and then, yes, perhaps legal level.


 


Thank you for your time. I'm sorry it's not such a direct legal question. Please redirect me, if you would....I didn't even get to the page that offered options on categories.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Here is what I think... Based on your comments, what the mechanic is saying is not logical. He screwed up and someone didn't put your oil plug back in, hand tightened it, left a sealing gasked off it, etc. Whatever happened, it happened because they failed to secure the plug and keep the oil in the engine.
.
He is not being honest and up front and admitting his mistake because he knows that he is 100% responsible for the mistake and any resulting damage to your engine.
.
With that said, I think that the direct approach will be the best one in this situation. I would approach him in a nonconfrontational manner and ask to sit down and talk with him about it. I would tell him that you have talked to several mechanics who have confirmed your thoughts that the problems occurred because the oil leaked out, not because of any "sending switch" due to new oil. The oil all came out because the plug wasn't installed correctly, simple as that.
.
Now you want to know if he is going to cover the cost of any repairs, not maybe, not he will try, but whether he will commit to you now to cover the repairs or whether you will have to take it to another shop. If he doesn't agree I would then tell him that you don't want anyone doing anything else to the vehicle and you will have it towed to another mechanic for repairs. Also, you will have to pursue legal action against him for his negligence in causing the damage.
.
The indirect approach won't work with someone like this because he is already being dishonest with you so that says a lot about his character. If his wife chooses to let your friendship suffer because of her husband's dishonesty, then that is a risk you will have to take.
,

.

.

Thanks.

Barrister

.

.

If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

.

I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Barrister,


That is really excellent and helpful advice. Thank you for sorting the issues out clearly. You are right about his character and the unlikelihood of his handling this properly, especially if Im indirect.


 


My car is in his shop and he has already begun looking at the bearings and had my permission to do so,when I was flustered today over the damage and hoping he could correct it.


 


I could try to get there in person to speak to him face to face, as you suggest. My car may already be up on the lift.


 


I am okay with standing my ground with him as you suggest, but I want to walk in very prepared given the situation at hand.


 


In the event that he gets defensive and I say I want my car back, I assume I should be prepared with a towing company name at the ready? I am inclined to use my local shop, a place where I've gone before and the


work has been fine. The head mechanic there was the one who spoke to me at length about how he would approach it and he is informed about the situation.


 


Would you suggest I call in advance of going in and say I want to come in and speak with him? There's already been a fair amount of back and forth. My inclination is to go in person and just take it from there but I can't get in until 8:30 or so, about an hour and a half after shop opens and work may be continuing on my car.


 


The damage, I already know, is pretty extensive, since motor has been affected. So I'm going to need to be prepared to lay out money for a rental car for indefinite amount of time and I'm also looking at having this other shop charge me several hundred dollars for possible repair/replacement of motor (if repair is possible at this point.) I very well may be looking at needing to get a new vehicle.


 


All this will be as I wait for a legal case to commence. I'm assuming you think I have a fair amount of a leg to stand on.


 


Do I hire a lawyer now or do I proceed with the DMV complaint/registry that also seems to have a legal component? The local guy recommended I start there and he seemed to think that would be an impactful move.


 


I want to wake up with a clear action plan since I'm pretty certain he will be defensive. Also, he has my car all taken apart at the moment. His shop opens early, I can't get there until my kids are dropped off, as I mentioned. Can you recommend a best approach?


 


I can definitely call local shop, get a towing company rec from them, and also see if they would be ready to receive my car if I have it removed from Bob's shop.


But I'm looking at a costly battle, aren't I? I apologize for redundant questions. I am just clarifying my concerns and hoping to have a very clear idea of what this is going to entail so that I am not floundering at any point. I don't expect him to back down. I'm exhausted and was not anticipating having to have this emotionally draining fight at this point...and it won't be quickly resolved...


 


Thank you so much for your time and assistance.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

In the event that he gets defensive and I say I want my car back, I assume I should be prepared with a towing company name at the ready?

.

Yes, you don't want to make an idle threat. My other unspoken concern is that he may be unscrupulous enough to try and doctor the vehicle so it appears as though something else was the cause. Not to give more to be concerned about, but the thought crossed my mind.

.

Would you suggest I call in advance of going in and say I want to come in and speak with him?

.

Honestly, no. If he is not "manning up" and admitting his mistake, then he will try to run and hide and try to throw up a smokescreen to divert attention. I would show up when they open in the morning and ask to speak to him at that time.

.

I'm assuming you think I have a fair amount of a leg to stand on.

.

Once you get another mechanic to confirm what we already know after inspecting it, then yes, the term "slam dunk" comes to mind.

.

Do I hire a lawyer now or do I proceed with the DMV complaint/registry that also seems to have a legal component?

.

I would start out with the DMV complaint. NY has a $5,000 limit in small claims court, so you might not even need an attorney if the eventual repairs and rental car costs are less than that.

.

Just remember to stay very calm even if he is getting defensive and raising his voice telling you that he has been in business for X years and you don't know what you are talking about. Calmly tell him that you understand his position and that if the other mechanic you take it to finds another reason for the damage other than the oil plug then you will apologize to him and bear the full cost of the repairs.

.

If he has a shred of honor, he will grow a backbone, admit he was wrong, and then do whatever it takes to correct the problem, even if he has to put a new engine in it.

.

.

Thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Barrister,


You have been extremely helpful. I have a clear plan and your words of advice on staying calm as he gets agitated...very, very helpful!


 


I am definitely concerned that he may have doctored/would be capable of doctoring the vehicle. I saw him grab a new gasket very quickly after I walked in. He has also been scolding me "now that he's taken a better look" at my car, for "neglecting" it...acting as if this was bound to happen because there is a lot going on


 


I have already reached out to my babysitter (at this late hour...no reply yet) to try to get out the door to his shop first thing in the morning. I am actually dreading it, but I'm up to it. I believe shop opens at 7.


 


There's nothing I can really do at this point if my car is up on the lift and he has it in him to doctor my vehicle, though, is there? That possibility worries me.


Any precaution I can take?


 


I promise this is it! You've been extraordinarily helpful and I'm brimming with anxiety as you can see. Despite being a psychologist, I'm totally floored by this man's behavior and being able to talk it through with you has been invaluable....I can't thank you enough!

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
I am definitely concerned that he may have doctored/would be capable of doctoring the vehicle. I saw him grab a new gasket very quickly after I walked in. He has also been scolding me "now that he's taken a better look" at my car, for "neglecting" it...acting as if this was bound to happen because there is a lot going on.
.
He is attempting to set up the scenario where it is not his negligence, but rather your lack of timely maintenance that is the cause of the engine locking up. Toyotas run and run and run, even with extremely dirty oil. They don't like to run without any.
.
It won't be a fun interaction, but it is nothing to get upset about. Someone did or didn't do something. Something else happened, and now something needs to be fixed.
.
There's nothing I can really do at this point if my car is up on the lift and he has it in him to doctor my vehicle, though, is there?
.
If the engine locked up, then it would be hard to induce some type of crack in the head gasket or something else without it being obvious to a trained mechanic. The fact that your fiance has a picture right after the damage occurred will go a long way as that is indisputable as would be any testimony of the tow truck driver that had to tow the vehicle in or the police officer if either of them looked at it.
.
So although that thought crossed my mind, after reconsidering it, it would be pretty difficult to conceal a catastrophic engine failure that was caused by running it at high speeds with no oil.
.
And you are very welcome...
.
.
Thanks
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23529
Experience: 14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
Barrister and 14 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very very much! I did what I could in terms of tip and payment given my current finances, but I want you to know you were extremely helpful and I"m very grateful!! Will be happy to write a great review!!


Gloria


(am collapsing to sleep now, but I think I will get an email requesting feedback which I will do tomorrow)


You're a great lawyer!

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome. Thanks so much for the positive rating and generous bonus, it is very much appreciated!

.

It was my pleasure to work with you tonight and help with your questions. Please feel free to ask for me if you need help with anything in the future and I will do my level best to help or get you to someone who can.

.

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Barrister,


Quick update: I arrived at the shop in the a.m. and Bob was sticking to his story about the oil pressure sending switch.


 


He was varying that with stating this was just an unfortunate coincidence. That my car had a lot of miles on it and something was bound to happen.


 


He started giving me estimates for putting in a new motor, ranging from 4300 dollars to 4800. I calmly asked him to take my car down off lift and I had it towed once I realized he was not going to take ownership over this error and I no longer trusted him to do the right thing. The new shop is very reputable and they are in the process of looking it over.


 


I will file a complaint with the DMV. New shop will offer report that I will also submit.


 


At the new shop, when the towing guy showed up with my car, he said Bob had approached him and told him he kept my oil sending switch (which he had replaced after the oil leak) because that would be his story if I took him to court. What grandiosity!!


 


I had to get to work at that point, so I had my fiance go over to pick up my part. Bob was defensive and did not want to hand it over since it was "my vehicle," not my fiance's. Fiance said calmly he did not want to get into a contest over this and could we please have our part. Bob reluctantly handed it over. The pictures my fiance took of the part look like it was banged up (i.e., not deteriorated).


 


Bob expressed anger at my fiance that "if I was going to pursue a law suit, why did he have to hear it from 'his' tow truck driver, not from me," to which my fiance did not reply.


 


I do hope that this (doctored) sending switch story (which he actually wrote into the receipt he gave me, which I had signed when I was trying to get the hell out of there) does not become my downfall. This guy knows his stuff and and he's anticipating a fight.


 


I do hear that the DMV investigators are pretty smart and savvy and usually side with the consumer. I'm anticipating laying out a fair amount of money. I am told the cases with the DMV have a 10 week waiting list. In any case, I was given no choice but to fight this.


 


Thank you again for all your help, esp with the psychological approach (as well as the legal). I remembered your words and stayed completely calm throughout the whole exchange, in which he said every single thing you predicted.


 


Relieved that this part is over.... now my poor car and what will happen to it is the next chapter. Meantime I'm driving around in a muscle car Dodge Avenger that is hilarious...lol. Life brings such funny twists and turns.


 


was so relieved to get your assistance and that this service exists! Thank you for listening to my saga! You helped man and womankind!!! :)


G

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    19941
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    8189
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/jespoag/2008-12-17_222355_jessepic.jpg JPEsq's Avatar

    JPEsq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    2132
    Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/gsenmartin/2008-04-22_214950_me1.jpg Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.'s Avatar

    Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    110
    7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PA/PaulmoJD/2013-10-10_195858_JAImage.64x64.jpg Law Educator, Esq.'s Avatar

    Law Educator, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    31621
    JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    15975
    Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.