My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Washington.
I took my car to the same mechanic on several occasions, every time the same check engine codes were coming up. On the last time, he told me that he could not find the problem, that he would do some research and get back to me the next week. He said that the car was ok to drive, and sent me home with the car. He said if the codes come back up to call him. This is an independent shop, not a dealership. The car is used, a 2002 car, I was the fourth owner of the car.
I drove the car home, did not drive it the next day. The day after that, when I started the car in the driveway the engine seized up - and was ruined. The mechanic told me that the engine was ruined due to a service that had not been done on the car. Volkswagen had published a Technical Service Bulletin on that particular car to do a specific task, a drain plug that needed to be removed so that water would not pool up underneath the windshield area. That was never done on my car. There was a class action lawsuit against VW of America, but I found that in all of the cars included in the lawsuit they only covered water damage to the interior of the car. So I questioned why my car had engine damage, and no interior water damage. Here is the TSB, https://wateringresssettlement.com/L...id=149&mid=669 It states that water can get into brake booster, but in none of VW's testing did the water get from the brake booster to the engine (as did in my car).
It turns out my mechanic had ignored a check engine code on my car the last two times he saw the car, for a mechanical failure of the brake booster system. All of the other cars in the lawsuit had water levels higher than my car, and the water just leaked into the interior of the car, carpets needed to be replaced. Those cars also had water in or near the brake booster system, but since their brake boosters were not malfunctioning the water was not allowed to get to the engine. My car, the brake booster was malfunctioning, as indicated by the engine code/engine light showing a "brake booster mechanical failure" this allowed the water to go from the brake booster into the engine, and thus my engine hydro locked and bent a piston. The mechanic said it was ok to drive with a bent piston, less than 30 miles later that piston blew through the engine wall and then the engine was just totaled and could not be rebuilt either.
I took the mechanic to small claims court, and I got upset in court and focused on the wrong details. The judge gave a decision stating that I had not given enough evidence to show why my engine was damaged. In court, and out of court, the only thing that the mechanic and I agree upon is how the engine got ruined - so to hear the judge say this I knew I went wrong somewhere.
Now, in order to appeal there is a bit more cost involved, so I want to make sure I can win if I am going to file. We all agree that the engine was ruined from the water getting into the brake booster and consequently into the engine. My question is, is this mechanic liable for ignoring the brake booster code, sending me back on the road with the car, and then the engine getting ruined due to the failing brake booster system allowing water to get into the pistons of the engine and ruin the engine.
The mechanic says he should not be responsible because the problem is a manufacturer's defect in the car. I say he should have replaced the brake booster, which is not a mnfg. defect, then I would have had water on my carpets (maybe 200$ in damages) vs. a ruined engine at 9000$.
Can I win, can I win an appeal, or should I refile the case in small claims court and request the judge to reconsider the facts. Is there any legal precedent that I can use to quote to the judge? I did notice that the judge did not take into consideration my initial statement filed with the case, and some other facts she did not understand. It is quite complicated, and the mechanic spent a lot of time arguing details that didn't matter, things like statements I made that offended him, personal things to make me upset vs. the facts of the case - which lead to me being upset and not focusing on the details that mattered.
I ended up just signing the car over to my new mechanic, and getting a new car. It was explained to me by several mechanics that the engine could have been the least of my worries with other parts probably being ruined as well, making the repairs extensive and cost prohibitive. The car wasn't worth 9k and the 9k was just for the engine, add on some other repairs and the amount of repairs needed would be close to 1.5 times what the car is worth. The mechanic that I have now told me that the drain plug problem with the ruined car, is a very common problem and with that make and model he checks this on every one he has into his shop. He said that he has never ever seen the problem ruin an engine, and agreed that the brake booster malfunctioning was the problem.