My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Minnesota
I recently was asked to do a repair on a neighbor's car. I normally don't do mechanical work for anyone but family and friends, which is very seldom. I am not a licensed mechanic, but I am experienced and I work in my home garage. I was approached by the customer in September of 2014. He asked me if I could install a bumper,which he had purchased on his daughter’s 1991 Honda Accord LX. I agreed and inspected the car. After inspecting the vehicle, I noticed it was missing a few parts to complete the repair. I also noticed the valve cover gasket was leaking oil. I showed this to him and I quoted him a price of around $120. This included putting on the bumper, installing the valve cover gasket, and buying all the necessary parts. He agreed and I ordered the parts. After several weeks, the parts arrived and I called them up to deliver the car. While I was changing the valve cover gasket I noticed that the timing belt was severely cracked and worn. I showed this to his wife and her daughter and told them the timing belt was likely to fail soon. They then asked me if I could change it, since the daughter was going on a long trip in several days. Despite the fact I had other responsibilities, I agreed to do this as a favor. I quoted them $150 for parts and $150 for labor, which is hundreds of dollars less than a mechanic shop would’ve charged.
I then asked them if I could drive it to my friend's shop since I did not have an air compressor in my small one stall garage. They agreed to that also.
After driving the car a mile or two, it began to sputter and die and would not restart. I called my brother and we towed it back to my house. Fearing the worst I inspected the timing belt and verified it was loose. I showed them this before starting any repairs and told her that there is a chance the valves were bent due to the belt slipping. I also visually showed her the problem. I said there was a chance the valves weren't bent and I could try installing the new timing belt. She agreed that it was worth a try.
I had to borrow an air compressor from my brother to begin the task. I completed the repair after several days. Upon start up, the car did not run well. I assumed the valves were bent, because I am confident the timing belt was installed correctly. If I had installed the timing belt incorrectly, the car wouldn't have started at all. I told the wife and her daughter my suspicions. The daughter came over paid me and I told her I would look at it when I was back, as I was leaving town for a week.
About a week later, I got a threatening text saying I had destroyed her engine and she wanted a refund of $210. I tried to call her and she wouldn't respond. They also gave me no chance to repair the problem, which I would've gladly done. Now they're trying to sue me in small claims for almost $3,000. The car in question is maybe only worth $500-$800.