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Mechanic Damaged My Car

Discussion in 'Car Sales, Dealers, Repairs, Lemon Law' started by LawyerWantToBe, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,

    Thanks so much for creating this forum. You all do a wonderful job of helping ignorant people like me sleep at night. :)

    Would some please give some advice to me pertaining to a repair issue that I am having?

    During the first week of November my regular mechanic was too busy to work on my car so I brought it to another mechanic who an acquaintance of mine uses. This mechanic was replacing the #8 spark plug when he dropped a small socket into the cylinder through the spark plug hole. He did not realize his folly until he started the car. He retrieved the socket by boring the spark plug hole and inserting a magnet to fish the socket out of the cylinder. Then he installed an insert. When I picked up the car he told me the entire story and promised to make it right if I was unhappy.
    Since I got the car back it has been making a clicking noise in the general area of the #8 cylinder. I brought it to my regular mechanic and he listened to it and said that I needed a new head and that while the head was off the #8 cylinder should be inspected for more damage.
    I immediately called the mechanic and he agreed to replace the head and inspect the cylinder. I dropped car off on Monday the 30th, then on the 1st he said that he would not replace the head or inspect the cylinder. He said that when he originally removed the #8 spark plug the small socket was probably laying inside the hole next to the spark plug and when he pulled the spark plug out the socket mostly likely fell in.

    I was wondering if I should seek the services of an attorney?

    Thank you...
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I suggest you first go back to your mechanic, find out how much it will cost to fix it, and get some estimates from other reputable mechanics, too. Assuming you can prove that the mechanic who dropped the socket caused the head problem too then in general you'd be entitled to sue for the amount of money it would take to fix the engine from at least the most competitive bid you got. Pick a mechanic and get the work done now since suing and collecting the judgment takes time and you don't want to leave this problem unfixed for that period of time. If you pick a mechanic that charges more than the most competitive bid you got just realize you may end up eating the extra amount you pay for repair over that competitive bid. If the amount to repair this is within your state's small claims court limit then I suggest you sue the mechanic in small claims court. You'll not need a lawyer for that.
     
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  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Is the mechanic suggesting that a socket was already in the spark plug hole when he tried to remove the spark plug, so he isn't responsible for it?
    It is pretty much impossible for a socket to have already been there and for him to remove the spark plug without first removing any obstruction. there is no room for a socket to be in there laying to the side.
    if he started the engine with the socket in the cylinder there is most certainly damage to the head and the cylinder. The clicking you hear is probably from valve damage.
    I would be incredibly upset to have found out that he bored through the head to remove the socket rather than remove the head. He took a lazy shortcut.
    This guy is blowing smoke. Don't buy his story.
     
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  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The mechanic used a borescope to find the socket, then used a magnet to remove it. There was no hole put in to the head.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The mechanic must have bored the plug hole to make it larger in order to get the socket out. Otherwise an insert to patch the hole would not have been necessary.
     
  6. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I believe you are right - I stand corrected.
     
  7. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    "This dude is a bucket of smoke."
    Sean Connery
    :)
     
  8. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    You will probably also need new valves, a new piston, and perhaps a new connecting rod. These are major repairs and will cost big money to tear down the engine to inspect and replace the damaged parts.
     
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  9. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes, I have been calling mechanics and that is what they are telling me. The service dept at the local dealership quoted at least $2,000.00 just to tell me what the problems are and give me a quote for the repairs. Another mechanic quoted $4,000.00 just to replace the head which he says needs to be replaced for starts (maybe more if the cylinder is damaged). A third mechanic mentioned replacing the engine. Either way it's going to be expensive. Especially considering the vehicle is only valued at about $7,000.00.
    From what I gather, if I cannot prove that the mechanic's dropping the socket in the cylinder caused the damages in the first place then I am out a lot of money. The mechanic who caused this freely admits that they were the ones that caused the socket to fall into the spark plug hole. But what if they deny it when in front of a judge? I did not have a witness with me while talking to mechanic.
    Also, his reasoning for not fixing the problem is that he says that the socket was laying in the cavern next to the spark plug and the socket was not one of his but must have been left there by a previous person while working on vehicle. So when this mechanic removed the spark plug the socket fell in to the cylinder. What if the judge decides to rule in favor of mechanic based on this description?
    Thanks for all of the great advice. It really helps to have this support that you have given me and also to be able to write down my thoughts on the matter.
    I will sleep better tonight. :)
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    sleep.gif
     
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  11. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This is absolutely true. Whether to diagnose the problem is repair it the head must come off. I can't say the price is reasonable though.

    I don't think you will have trouble with that. The mechanic will have difficulty explaining the extreme measures taken to remove the socket were not a result of a catastrophic accident of his own doing

    This is an extremely unlikely scenario. The mechanic had a responsibility to ensure that any kind of debris did not enter the cylinder when the plug was removed.

    Check with your North Carolina Secretary of State to see who the registered agent is for the business and put your complaint into writing demanding prompt repair/compensation. If it doesn't get you anywhere then pursue a judgment in small claims.
     
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  12. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    If the business is a state legal entity like a corporation, LLC, etc, you would serve the legal complaint on the registered agent. Note that sole proprietorships typically don't have registered agents.

    But in making a written demand to a business before filing a lawsuit that should go directly to the business itself, e.g. the owner/CEO/managing member of the business if it is a small business, rather than the registered agent.
     
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  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    In my experience most often the registered agent of a small business, if there is one, is the owner. Checking for a registered agent just makes sure the complaint finds the right person rather than some shmoe working a desk.
     
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  14. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    NC Rules of Civil Procedure allow service on any officer, director or managing agent, as well as the registered agent. While the rule doesn't appear to mention LLCs expressly, it's likely that service on any manager will suffice. I tend to agree that, for "small" businesses, the registered agent is frequently an officer, but it's also quite often an attorney. Also, "owner" isn't a term that has a precise legal meaning, so one needs to be careful to ensure that the "owner" (e.g., a shareholder or member) is also an officer or director or the registered agent.
     
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  15. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Gee, this is all such excellent advice. I am speechless. I feel like a boot has just been lifted off of my face.
    Have a highly reputable mechanic looking at the vehicle on Monday.
    Thanks so much.
     
  16. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    That is often the case. But serving the owner (member) of a LLC or owner of a corporation (shareholder) may well be the wrong person to serve should that person not the registered agent or a managing member/officer of the business entity. Since it is generally always good to serve a registered agent with the legal complaint, that's where you'd start for the lawsuit.

    But when simply writing a letter of complaint to the business to demand the business fix a problem, the registered agent may well be the wrong person to send that to should that person not be the person who actually runs the business (managing member, CEO or whatever).
     
  17. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello,
    Hope this note finds everyone well.
    So I took the vehicle to another mechanic to figure out what exactly the damages are. He said like all of the other mechanics that it would cost a couple thousand dollars just to tear the engine down and get to the root of the problem. I guess I do not have a choice at this point. The vehicle needs to be fixed. I was wondering if someone could advise me whether or not I waited too long to pursue this legally? I got the vehicle back from the mechanic who damaged it on 11/10. I waited a week here and a week there while he kept giving me the run around and false hopes.
    Thanks again for the great support.
    Stay safe please.
     
  18. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    You'd likely sue alleging both negligence and breach of contract. For both these causes of action in NC the statute of limitation (SOL) is three years from the time the negligence/breach occurred. So you certainly have time to sue for the damage. You would sue both the actual mechanic and, if he was employed by someone else, sue the employer as well.
     
  19. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Certainly not too late.
    You need to make sure you have given the original mechanic opportunity to fix it before you go somewhere else.
    Do you have any of this in writing that he refused to fix it? If not then you should acquire some documentation.
     
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  20. LawyerWantToBe

    LawyerWantToBe Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hey Mightymoose,
    I gave him plenty of time to repair the problem. He has promised me several times that he would make it right. Always backing out of it at the final moment.
    Unfortunately I do not have anything but the invoice. He did not write on it anything about the engine damage either. It is pretty much his word vs my word.
    Thank you.
     

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