Paid for a car repair that failed, but mechanic is gone after surgery
May 28, 2014 6:41 AM Subscribe
We started having trouble with our car almost a year ago. We paid $1500 for a repair that failed, and the mechanic tried twice more without additional charges. Now, it’s failed again, but the mechanic had heart surgery and closed down the shop, and I haven’t been able to reach him. Is there anything left to do, or do we just have to accept that we’re out the money without a fix, and start over with someone new?
posted by daisyace to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The car is a 2002 Subaru Legacy with almost 100K miles. Here’s the history of the repair:
- Summer ‘13 - Check Engine light came on with an emissions-related code. The mechanic (who I’ll call Gary) replaced the catalytic converter, along with a pipe and muffler, for $1500.
- Fall ‘13 - The same code came back on. Gary swapped out the catalytic converter for another new one at no charge.
- Early ‘14 - The same code came on again. Gary changed the oxygen sensor(s?) at no charge.
- Spring ‘14 - The code came on again. We heard Gary was away from business for heart surgery, and then that he wasn’t coming back. We had another mechanic take a look, and he says that the code is P0420, that the catalytic converter is an after-market one, and that it's still/again the root of the problem.
It was our first time working with Gary, but he had great Yelp reviews, and he’d been in business for a long time. He also was somewhat of an oddball, with a grey beard a couple of feet long, a truck-sized mountain of soda and beer cans in his shop, and we later heard he’s long been a functioning alcoholic. He came across as well-intentioned, repeatedly trying to put the repair right. I feel badly for his health troubles.
I wasn’t sure whether it was cruel to pursue this when Gary might be seriously ailing. That said, he might be recovered, and I’m unhappy that we’ve still got the same car problem we paid to repair. So, I decided to at least inquire, but I haven’t been able to. I tried the shop, but Gary and his couple of guys aren’t there, no one’s picking up their voicemail, and a letter was returned as undeliverable. I asked the town for any way to get in touch, and they referred me to the state because the shop is incorporated, and the state didn’t have info, either.
We have a receipt for the first repair attempt, but not for any of the free follow-up. Is there any decent way to get either a repair that sticks or a (partial?) refund, or is it time to accept that money as gone and start over with a new mechanic?