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Auto repair insurance won't pay...time for small claims?

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by firsttimeposter, Feb 21, 2008.

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  1. firsttimeposter

    firsttimeposter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I got my oil changed at Shop A. All was fine for a week. Then, my car died while I was idling in a drive-up ATM. Called AAA and got a tow truck. The hood latch broke, so he couldn't look under the hood, but the car started up again without a jump, so I thought it was due to the really cold weather.

    The next day, on the highway, check engine light comes on. I pull over, smoke billows out of the hood. Called AAA and was towed to the nearest garage that was open (it was a Saturday).

    Shop B fixed the melted thermostat, the brakes, and battery. Picked up the car on Sunday. As he handed me the keys, the mechanic asked why the radiator cap was off. Well, I didn't take it off and the tow truck guy couldn't even open the hood, so it was Shop A that left the cap off while doing an oil change.

    So, I figured I would contact Shop A when they opened on Monday (they don't have weekend hours) and ask about paying for the diagnostic cost or the thermostat.

    Well, I drove my car out of Shop B's lot and the engine light came on again. Back the car went, now I'm hopping mad, and I just want it fixed. The mechanic looks over the car for another thirty minutes, then tells me the damage from the engine overheating is worse than he thought and I can either pay to have them take the motor apart and see if the gasket can get replace OR I can replace the motor. If I replace the motor, no more problems. If I ask them to take it apart and the gasket isn't the only problem, then I'm out the labor and the more costly repair.

    I ask the mechanic to replace the motor and to put a note on the invoice saying that the overheating caused the damage because the radiator cap was left off. Car is repaired to the tune of over $3,000.

    I call Shop A on Monday, when they open, and tell the guy about the damage. He says that $3,000 is a lot of money and why wasn't he given a chance to inspect the car himself and that he really didn't think it was his fault and that Shop B ripped me off.

    I wrote a demand letter asking Shop A to pay for the motor. Shop A's insurance contacted me to tell me that, because Shop B had screwed up the original diagnosis, and because Shop A had no chance to inspect the damage, Shop A was not liable and not paying.

    I'm trying to see if my own auto insurance can help, but they told me I shouldn't have had the repair work done in the first place without contacting them so they could come out and inspect it and now it's too late for them to get involved.

    Is small claims my next step? I know Shop B screwed up their first job, but I don't see how that negates Shop A's negligence.
     

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