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Subaru Legacy: I purchased a used vehicle in the state of VA.

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I purchased a used vehicle in the state of VA. I live in WI. I had a mechanic in VA look over the car for me. He called me and told me that everything worked in the car and that the only 2 things that he found and that concerned him was the rocker panels were rusty and had been tried to be repaired but it wasn't a very good job. The other thing he told me he found was that there was oil at the bottom front of the engine. I asked him if he knew where this was coming from and if it could be repaired. He told me he would check it out. I also talked to the seller and he and the mechanic agreed that the mechanic would investigate further. After about 10 days or so I was told by the seller that the mechanic said that it was an oil leak but was very minor. I have this in a text message from the seller. I went to VA and picked up the car on Aug 30th. Not 3 minutes after leaving the sellers house it was evident the air conditioning wasn't working. I called the seller and he said he had spent $100. to have it fixed. Then 2 minutes later when I got gas and went to leave the station the car wouldn't go into reverse from drive. I will admit when we test drove the car we never went from drive to reverse as we went down the road and when we were ready to come back we just made a U-turn. I tried to call the seller and he didn't answer the phone. Then 20 more minutes down the road there was smoke pouring out from under engine. We stopped and were told by a mechanic that the oil leak was not "minor" but pretty bad and was leaking onto the exhaust manifold and was burning there. Do I have any recourse against the mechanic?

LegalGems :

Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum. I am sorry to hear of this situation. Buying a used car can be a rather tricky situation, as there are so many people that will take advantage of the buyer. Generally, it is the used car dealer that is the culprit. However, in your situation, it sounds as if the mechanic was negligent in evaluating the condition of the car. In situations such as this, the consumer can sue for negligence (ie negligent inspection) - this means that the mechanic did not exercise the due diligence that the average, competent mechanic would have exercised. In situations such as this, generally the damages asked for are "reasonably foreseeable" economic damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the mechanic's negligence. Since the mechanic said the leak was minor, but it was not in fact minor, generally a court would get third party mechanic opinions as to the fair market value of the car in the condition it currently is in; versus the FMV of the car as it was represented by the mechanic. In Virginia, the small claims limit is $5,000. Here is the link to the relevant website. (I'm sorry; I appear unable to link you but you can copy and paste this URL in to the URL bar). (there we go). But first, it is generally advised that you send a demand letter, with any documents that substantiate your position (ie third party mechanic statements) to see if you can first come to an out of court settlement re: this. Also, the judge tends to favor plaintiffs that make a good faith attempt at amicable negotiations,. so most lawyers advise this as a first step. Please see the following complaint letter, from the state of Georgia. It is being included as a general, non copyrighted source that you can use as a model to conform it to the particulars of your situation. Please see and click on "sample letter of complaint" located at the bottom of the page.

JACUSTOMER-6np81q0l- :

I bought this car in VA. Can I still use the complaint letter from Georgia?

LegalGems :

Yes, you can. That is provided as a general model (Pro forma so to speak). We are prohibited from providing specific legal advice so I can't draft you a letter, and I can't link you to copyrighted material. Since this is a government web site, I am complying with the terms of the site, yet providing you with a great sample letter you can use as a base.

JACUSTOMER-6np81q0l- :

Sorry, I asked my above question before looking at the letter. After viewing it I can see that it can be used in any state. Thanks for your help.

LegalGems :

Very welcome. Glad to have helped. Enjoy the rest of the holiday (the few hours left!).

JACUSTOMER-6np81q0l- :

Thanks. You too.

LegalGems and 4 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

When I called this mechanic to ask if he would look at this car I told him I would pay him whatever his price was. He said he would look at it and get back to me. After looking at it and telling me what he found I talked with the seller and he said he would ask the mechanic to look at the car and see if he could figure out how bad the leak was. The seller is the one who called me and said the leak was a very minor leak. I did not pay the mechanic to look at the car as he told me there was no charge. Would the fact that the mechanic didn't charge me change at all whether I have a case against him? The seller told me he paid the mechanic $2.00 for checking out how bad the leak was.

No. Price charged is irrelevant. When a consumer goes to a provider/seller and asks that a service be performed, they are under an obligation to carry on with that obligation and provide a due diligenence service/inspection. The fact that there was no charge does not negate his responsibilty in providing a certain standard of service. For example, if you asked him if you needed brakes and he said "no charge" because your brakes were 100%, and then you got in an accident due to having no brakes, that mechanic would generally be held liable. So money paid is typically considered irrelevant.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What is the best way to find a lawyer in VA. If I take this mechanic to court would it have to be in VA, his home state?

It would have to be in VA because that is where the action occurred. Here you go- this is a link to VA's state bar referral service which will ensure the attorney is licensed and in good standing: (shoot, I'm sorry, it won't let me link you to that).
And here's a link to a website that has customer and peer reviews so you can check out the attorney in more detail.

LegalGems and 4 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Would I be able to make the mechanic pay my court costs? Would I be able to go after the seller for misrepresentation as the seller told me it was a very minor oil leak when it is not? How do I go about finding a GOOD lawyer in VA? Is there someone you could recommend? I had also asked another lawyer on this website and they said I could go against seller and mechanic. What is your view on this?

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