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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    2

    Default Car Caught on Fire After a Defective Repair by a Back Yard Mechanic

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: California.

    I recently took my car to a backyard mechanic to get my transmission replaced. I picked up the car today and while driving it around the block to make sure everything was working right it caught on fire. The fire was put out and the car does not have a lot of damage but it is currently is not in running condition. I believe that he did not repair the transmission correctly and fluid leaked out of it and caught the car on fire. I tried talking to him but he claims he did nothing wrong and will not take a look at it. He told me to talk a lawyer. I have text message conversations regarding the car but I have no signed contract or anything. Would it even be worth my time to find out what exactly caused the fire and if it is his fault to take him to small claims court? Its an older car I already spent over 600 trying to fix it and not sure if its really worth it for me to put more money into it. Just want some opinions on if small claims court is even worth my time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Trying to Get Opinions on if I Should Take a Backyard Mechanic to Small Claims Co

    That depends on whether the mechanic is collectable. It appears he needs a mechanic license to legally work in CA. The problem is you agreed to allow an unlicensed stranger to fix your car. Recovery might be limited to what you paid him or the value of the car. You need expert testimony he was the proximate cause of the fire.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,867

    Default Re: Car Caught on Fire After a Defective Repair by a Back Yard Mechanic

    If your car needed a transmission I'm guessing it's an old, high mileage, low value car for which you had no fire insurance.

    You'll pay more for a lawyer than the car is worth and you won't get that money back.

    You can go to small claims court without a lawyer and take a shot at it but you'll need an expert to examine the car and determine the source and cause of the fire. Last time I hired one it was over $1000 and that was 10 years ago. And you don't get that money back either.

    Even with a judgment there's no guarantee that you'll ever see a nickel.

    Life lesson from the school of hard knocks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    806

    Default Re: Car Caught on Fire After a Defective Repair by a Back Yard Mechanic

    Rule of thumb - major car repairs (transmission replacement would qualify as major) should not be attempted by "back yard mechanics".

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,344

    Default Re: Car Caught on Fire After a Defective Repair by a Back Yard Mechanic

    Rule of thumb - when you have an old car that isn't worth spending the $2k-3k a licensed transmission shop will charge, it can sometimes be worth trying a backyard mechanic to get a few more miles out of the car. That's a personal choice, but don't pay him until you're sure the car is right and won't catch fire. Test drive before paying, not after.

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