Hello, I am requesting some advice as to a possible civil, small claims suit. I had an auto accident going back to around april of last year. The transmission of the car was damaged in the accident. I took the car to a mechanic that was recommended to me by an acquaintance, mainly because of the location being near to where I had the accident, trying to avoid the tow fees for 30 mins back to my home. The car was undriveable, so I figured I'd get it towed 5 miles to the mechanic, get it fixed, then drive it back home. Well the mechanic recommended a rebuilt transmission for $1200, a fraction of the brand new dealer price of over $3000. When I got the car back, the transmission would grind every time i shifted to 3rd or 4th gear (manual transmission). So the mechanic agreed to get another (he says he gets them from a guy he knows that rebuilds them). I waited a few months for him to be available for the work, driving the car like this every day, hoping the transmission wouldnt crap out on me. FInally he put in another. The second remanufactured transmission was doing the same grinding, but this time only in 3rd gear. Obviously this was still unacceptable. I paid for a fully operational transmission and thats not what I got. So I drove on this transmission for quite awhile, waiting until the mechanic was available, and also for my spring break from school (im a college student). So three weeks ago I took the car again. He told me it would be done by the end of the week. Well, its been three weeks now, and now I've had to borrow a car to drive to school, and the mechanic is acting very shady. I can almost never get through to him on my cell phone, as he never picks up, and his voicemail is full and not accepting messages. On a few occasions I have gotten through, strangely enough by calling on friend's phones. Seems he is avoiding me. When I have gotten through to him, he tells he he still has not gotten the new transmission from his "guy", and that he will call the guy now, and tells me to call him back in 10 mins. Well of course he doesnt pick up. Seems hes giving me the runaround. I would have been better off towing the car back home and taking it to a good shop. This hasnt been costing me anything with the mechanic, but it does cost me aggravation. I cant just check in on him every other day since its 30 mins away from my house. This guys shop is pretty shady, not very official, and it looks almost like a chop shop. He says hes been very busy with his new "import/export" business. Some days im shitting bricks, thinking my car will end up as parts in a crate to japan or something with no legal recourse for me. All I have is a handwritten receipt of the first time I had him do the work after the accident. The receipt letterhead isn't even from that shop. I don't know the address, or the name of the shop, because there isn't one that is clearly visible or recognizable.
So, what do you guys think I should do? This is taking way too long, much longer than promised. I talked to my lawyer and he said he could write a threatening letter, but it would cost me $100. Could a write a letter threatening to take him to court myself if he didnt give me my car back, fixed, within the next month or so? How would I go about this? What kind of protection do I have against this guy jerking me around, or worse, parting my car out to eBay!!! Should I just go pay him a visit at his shop and see whats up??
Thank you for your help!