Car has been in the shop for 4 months. We just want it back.
February 6, 2015 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Took our Subaru to the transmission shop recommended by the local Subaru mechanic. That was in October. It's still there, and we are at the end of our rope.

So it's been four months now, with at least weekly phone calls to check on our car's status. It's either next in line, or they're waiting for a part, or they thought they fixed it but it developed some other problem on test drive. Lately we've only been able to leave messages, because no one is answering. It sounds like the business has been struggling, and there are less employees there than there were when the car was taken there in October.

We just want the car back, preferably fixed. Note: the car was driveable when we dropped it off, but is not currently driveable, apparently.

Is it time to talk lawyer? Is it time to call and tell them that we want the car back, and fixed, within one week or we lawyer up? Anything else we should do?

Relatedly, if anyone knows a lawyer in the Portland westside area (the car is in Forest Grove) that handles things like this, I'd appreciate the referral.
posted by rabbitrabbit to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What happens when you actually go to the shop and demand it? After four months (!!!!!) I'd make it a massive issue for them to fix ASAP.

And yes, call a lawyer, like yesterday.

Do you know the car is still there? Do you know the shop is still open?
posted by barnone at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2015 [14 favorites]

If you believe a mechanic has performed work on your vehicle without your authorization, or if you have any other grievance against an Oregon mechanic, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline or call 1-877-877-9392. (source: Oregon Department of Justice)
posted by desjardins at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2015

(But really, I'd also go to the garage and just sit there until they do something.)
posted by desjardins at 2:42 PM on February 6, 2015 [14 favorites]

i'd do what desjardins suggests, but with a tow truck. Who cares if it isn't drivable right now. You need another mechanic to look at it to even figure out

A. What's wrong

B. What they changed to cause to be undrivable, if it even is.

Even if i could possibly start it up and drive it away if they told me not to, i wouldn't. I'd have someone else look at it first. I'd contact a lawyer after i figured out what the current condition of it was.
posted by emptythought at 3:15 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

It's not clear if you've paid this shop anything yet. But I'm assuming that if you have, you aren't too concerned about that, since

We just want the car back, preferably fixed.

I wouldn't have high hopes for getting your car fixed in a week from the same place that hasn't fixed it for four months.

Call around and find a towing company that can come on short notice if needed. Figure out where you will put the car, it will be expensive to have the towing company store it. That might be a different transmission shop, your driveway, or someone who is willing to buy the car.

Go to the shop. Tell them you are there to get your car. They will probably tell you it's not ready, tell them you understand and really need to get the car, and have made arrangements. They just need to have it accessible so you can pick it up. If it's not working it can be pushed into a place where the tow truck driver can get it.

Edited to add: if there's a towing place they already use, or that they are likely to such as one right next door, don't pick that one.
posted by yohko at 3:18 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

My experience has been that small businesses become much more responsive when told you are going to call a lawyer. So yes, letting them know they have a week or you'll be taking legal action may solve your problem without added expense.
posted by metasarah at 3:58 PM on February 6, 2015

1) Tow truck, 2) to another garage, now; 3) small claims suit at leisure.
posted by zippy at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2015 [13 favorites]

Ya, I'd just arrange to meet a roll back at the garage and get them to take the car to another garage. Be prepared to call the cops if they won't release the car (it's stolen at that point). Personally I wouldn't allow nor try to get them to actually fix it at this point as it's obvious they aren't competent to do so.

Be aware that your car may be in pieces and if the shop is really hurting they may have "borrowed" parts from your car to fix another. And if it is in pieces your new shop will probably have to spend time putting it together before they can start fixing it.
posted by Mitheral at 4:17 PM on February 6, 2015 [15 favorites]

I'd get your car out of there in a hurry if you're worried about the business going under. Years ago I had a VW bus with a bad engine. I bought another engine - used - for it and a man who ran a VW garage here was going to install it after he put new rings (or something similar) in it. Then one day he just went out of business and disappeared, taking all the equipment in his garage - and my engine - with him. He was never seen again.

I'd sure get your little car - my favorite car - out of that shop.
posted by aryma at 5:33 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have something like AAA or Better World Club? If so, maybe one of those would help with the transferring the car to another shop.
posted by Secretariat at 8:30 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: We didn't end up having to threaten or find a lawyer because the shop called on Tuesday morning to tell us the car was done. They wanted to knock 2 hours of labor off the charge (they said it was 5 hours of labor and they would charge us "only" 3) and I threw a fit and they ended up only charging us for parts. We drove the car home on Tuesday.

The kicker? On Wednesday morning the same symptoms we took it in for originally came back. It seems to not actually be fixed.


Taking it to a different shop now.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:21 PM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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