05 Dodge Caravan Law Suit

I have a 2005 Dodge caravan; with 58,000 miles. At slow speeds as I turned into a parking space, there was a cluncking sound under the front wheels. Car was fine going straight or at higher speed turns. Took it to be repaired and they replaced the Gear Rack that cost $349, part cost only, and was assured that would stop the knocking sound and it was unsafe. Drove the van home and made the same sound. No change at all. Went back, they now replaced the Sway Link at a cost of $79. That stopped the noise. When I asked them to refund me for the first part they said “Oh, you needed that anyway, that reduced the sound”. It did nothing for the sound and I would never have agreed to pay for the first repair (total cost was $608) if it would not fix the sound. I have sued them in small claims and have a Court date on the 26th. Does anyone, hopefully a mechanic, have an opinion here whether I was ripped off. My brother, who is an airline mechanic, said to me that they just replaced the most expensive part without finding out what weas wrong. Are there any web sites that might give the chances of having the gear rack fail at 58,000 miles. I can introduce written statements here in small claims court.

Thank you.


anything here is listed under the ‘hear say’ and wont be valid in court. the only thing you can have in court is first person witness’ and professional opinion from mechanics who have actually worked on your van or others exactly like it. over the 'net ain’t going to cut it.

BUT i think you maybe have learned a valuable lesson about going to a dealership for repairs. now you need to find a local independent mechanic (with references) to get to trust.

yes you were ripped off. but this is the nature of mechanical repairs. an unscrupulous mechanic can (and they do) abuse the trust of customers. (sometimes it is due to inexperience, sometimes it is through greed/ laziness.)

Any 1st year law student would object to the written statement as hearsay . . . unless you have an expert in Court testifying as to the written statements. Depends on the Judge/Justice . . . and is easily and cheaply appealed to a “real” Court even if you win. You’d be better off looking at BBB or your states’ consumer protection bureau for help. Rocketman

You agreed to repair so you have to pay. Sorry. Judge will you likely tell you this.

An estimate is best educated opinion and usually right to correcting a problem. You signed off so you own it. You also got a new part installed so no going back. Good luck.

Dr’s misdiagnose too. Its all part of the process awful as it is on the wallet.

I am not sure he was ripped off, unless the car was under warranty at the time. Roginnes, was it under warranty? But frankly I agree it was poor service and should alert Roginnes to the fact the dealers are not better (or worse) than independent mechanics, but are almost always more expensive.

As for a case, I would think it is not likely unless they put everything in writing and it was clear that the first fix was sure to fix the problem with no additional work.

“BUT i think you maybe have learned a valuable lesson about going to a dealership for repairs”

I have re-read the original post a few times, and I don’t see any reference to a dealership having done the possibly dubious replacement of the steering rack. Yes, an independent mechanic may be more honest than a dealership, but there are few hard and fast rules in life, and if one automatically assumes that all independent mechanics are totally honest and 100% competent, the person making the assumption could wind up learning a very expensive lesson.

Everyone needs to take his or her car to a repair facility that they know to be trustworthy, and that could be an independent mechanic or it could be a dealership. Just like gas mileage and investment returns, your experience may vary.

We could kick this around until hell froze over and you still wouldn’t be any wiser.

One question: Did you SIGN the work order allowing them to work on the vehicle with NO spending limit/estimate?

Well I’m not a mechanic or a lawyer but have been to court before. Small claims court is not Perry Mason and they don’t want to hear a bunch of garbage from either side-just the plain facts. Most of the time they split it down the middle and won’t allow someone to be unjustly enriched.

They will say they put the part in in good faith thinking that was the problem and only charged for the part not the labor. It would be too expensive to take the part out again and what, put the old part back in that doesn’t exist anymore? So they already put in their fair share trying to solve the problem. So I don’t think you’ll get much of anything out of it except a shop you can’t go back to again. A lot of people think auto repair is an exact science where it is more like medicine. Sometimes you just don’t know and have to try something. I’d hate to tally up how many parts I’ve put in my own cars that didn’t solve the problem. I reationalize it but looking at the mileage on the part and how much longer it would have gone anyway.

I take my car to the dealership and I have found them to be very honest. They give me large discounts and they only replace the parts that are necessary. Every thing i’ve had done there has been fixed the first time and for a low cost. I started taking it to the dealer after I was ripped off big-time by an independent shop. The key is not that one is better than the other but simply to find a mechanic you trust. I may go to the dealer, but I always get the same service advisor and even the same technician each time.

There’s not enough info known to be specific on this issue and the only opinion expressed by someone here would be admissible only if was in general terms. In other words, related to all vehicles in general and not just yours.

I don’t think the dealers should be blindly bashed because none of us know if a dealer even performed this work.
What are the chances of a rack failing at 58k miles? Slim, but it can happen. At one time Subaru had a rash of rack failures on cars with only 15-20k miles on them. In the case of the old XT coupes the steering racks on those had problems when they were new.

Personally, I think it was probably a misdiagnosis and the shop erred by even turning the vehicle back over to you. Someone there should have driven that thing down the road and verified the problem was cured.
However, my opinion is worthless because I have no way of knowing if you had more than one problem and if the rack needed replacement or not. A torn or split from dry rot rack bellows, some accrued mileage, and it’s possible there could have been a rack problem. No way of knowing.
If I was a gambler, which I’m not, my money would be on you losing this in small claims. And that’s not taking sides; just the harsh reality.

Thanks everybody. Just a few points:

  1. Where I live in Maine there are no small repair shops around. There is one but he is in Court all the time - very dishonest. So the dealer is the only place around

2 I am actually a retired lawyer-after 30 years-don’t hold that against me. Hearsay does not apply to small claim actions in the State of maine, as well as other States. I could bring a letter into Court from my mother and it is admissible.

  1. My argument is this. I brought the car in to fix the cluncking soound. The first repair did not correct the clunking sound. It did not even mitigate it. The second repair fixed it. If they admit the first repair did not fix the clunking sound-the best they can say is it helped-then a Judge may say why should be pay for it. The initial repair invoice states the repair was tgo fix a cluncking sound. It did not do that.

Anyway, I was wondering whether anyone knew whether a bad rack (the first repair) would make that sound while I tuned into a parking space. If not, I can show that Judge that opinion if it came from a mechanic.

Thanks again.