Can a mechanic refuse to allow you to drive your car away because it's deemed "unsafe"?

Finally we agree on something,the NY mechanic that told me they could “red tag” cars was a old guy,so old he is not with us today.

I would recommend avoiding any shop which attempts to scare owners into having service done. After many years and many cars I don’t recall even a dozen which I asked the owner to sign a release to drive away. But I have seen several bills for thousands of dollars in repairs which were almost certainly unnecessary which the owner approved because the shop insisted it was unsafe to drive… I know several mechanics who have worked for such shops and left because they wouldn’t lie to back up the service writer/manager. Some chains EXPECT the average ticket to be $100+.

Sears cannot hold the vehicle.
What Sears should have done was politely explain the car unsafe to drive and then on the repair order write a sentence that this was explained to the vehicle owner and have the vehicle owner sign it. Then they wash thier hands to it and try to strip the threads off some wheel studs.

The real problem here is incorrect grammer: “mechanic” and “Sears” are not permitted in the same sentence! Honestly, I’d worry about this a little if the warning came from a shop with the slightest credibiilty. Not the case here.


Well spoken.

Sears action was the action of a vigilante. Vigilanties are illegal. Anyone not a legally appointed law enforcement officer, who tries to, personally, enforce laws (or, assumed laws) is, themselve, breaking the law.

Stay away from Sears!!! Ditto jiffy lube,and all the rest of these el cheapo incompetents. Find yourself a good experienced mechanic.

The real problem here is incorrect grammer: “mechanic” and “Sears” are not permitted in the same sentence!

[i]HA![/i] I love it!

Sometime back, there was a class action suit against Sears in several states for its practices in the automotive service area. I don’t remember much about the suit except that Sears was found guilty. Sears then bought up the Western Auto chain and ran repairs and servicing through its Western Auto subsidiary. I think that Sears has since closed the Western Auto chain and taken the repair business back to the parent stores. Apparently, Sears didn’t learn its lesson very well.

Very true.
I only went to Sears twice. Both for oil changes. Second time, the mechanic broke the dam handle of my dipstick. I checked my oil before going- handle to the dipstick was NOT loose, their was no way the mechanic could have “acccidently” popped the handle off as he was pulling out the dipstick. Origionally, when I went I watched through the pane glass. After a few minutes of that, they moved my car to the end of the garage and I could only spot glimpses here and there.
Who knows? I’m a girl, know little of cars, maybe it was really an accident but something about the whole thing didn’t sit well with me.
Oh, and the mechanic who supposedly accidentely broke my handle off, as he was talking to me, never once looked me in the eye.

I agree completely grampy.
Ever time I have gone to one of these corporate chains, and I’v relayed the info back to my “expert” (my best friend’s dad who is a retired mechanic) he has bedunked 99% of it. I trust this guy not just cause he is like a grandpa to me but because he is the smartest man I know. Before mechanics, he was going to be a nuclear engineer. So, when I can’t get to him, I go to the local guys. I actually found out about them (Barney’s Midway Garage; plug, plug) through cartalk. Totally blue collar, like two or three guy business. They always answer my questions (no matter how dumb they sound), let me watch while they work on my car and show me what they are doing, top off fluids at no charge or little things like that. Needless to say, I never feel intimidated taking my vehicle there- as I always did with the other shops.

As bad as the talk is about the work from Jiffy Lube,you guys should pull a 80 car Saturday in the pit,it will give you a perspective on what you are criticizing.

I have seen both the Dealer and the Indy make the same mistakes as Jiffy Lube.

While I respect the perspective of those worried about liability, a shop could completely cover itself by simply writing on the shop order “customer advised of safety concern, refused repair” before giving the customer his/her copy, which the customer has to sign anyway.

I still maintain that in most cases dramatic tactics such as requiring the car to be towed out (which I seriously doubt the legality of) or stamping “UNSAFE TO DRIVE” in big red letters are scare tactics, and I personally think they’re coersion. I don’t like that business approach and long term I think it adversely affects the shop’s business. Do that and you’re unlikely to see either the customer or his/her friends or family again. The customer might even post your shop as having done that on an internet forum…

So what happened? Did your friend pay for the repair, call a tow truck, or drive away? I hope there’s a happy ending in there somewhere…

Sometimes these laws are based on case law (precedent) rather than statutes that have been enacted, and juries are fickle. I don’t trust Sears to check my oil, so I am not suggesting they did the right thing. But in this case, every law on record could say Sears can get away with writing “customer advised of safety concern, refused repair” on the shop order. But that might not stop a jury from awarding millions of dollars to the car owner’s family if she dies because she was allowed to drive away in an unsafe car. You can never know if a jury will think Sears should have done more until after you have spent millions of dollars in legal fees.

Just like the law, this question isn’t black and white, especially if the OP won’t give us more details.

$385 to install a $60 part that takes less than an hour? I installed one on a Taurus last week. The bearing comes already installed in a hub with the wheel studs attached.

I think that Sears store should be indicted on a variety of charges.

I worked at Sears for a while at 2 different stores. 1 was honest, 1 would tell you anything they could to sell you a job.

Once you’ve paid your bill, they have no legal right to hold your property. I would leave with my vehicle and see what they had the balls to do about it. If they did call the law, and I had a receipt for payment, I’d think I might have a lawsuit against them.


I have to Agree,

It’s your car and as long as the bill is paid they can not keep that vehicle from you.

What there trying to do is cover there ass for insurance, they can have sighn a form that say’s your liable and they notified you of the wheel bearing and then call the DOT to let them know your driving an unsafe car.

That’s it ! The sears mechanic has no authority to keep your vehicle.

Just had a thought what if we were dealing with a airplane,can a airplane be “red taged”? property is property.

I would have to think a airplane could be red taged but I wonder how the personal property issue is delt with.

Aircraft mechanics have a government license which enables them to ground an unsafe airplane legally. Auto mechanics have no such license or authority.

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