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Car Has Been in Shop over 8 Weeks

Our Mazda CX-7 has been in a small shop since August for an engine replacement. The mechanic runs his own small shop and at first told us this could be done within a week. He already had an engine available to put in the Mazda. Over the course of the past 8 weeks, he has told us that it would be done in a few more days. We have gotten this same answer multiple times. The last 3 weeks, he has not even been returning phone calls when we inquire about the progress. My wife has showed up on site a couple of times to check on the progress and the car was basically in pieces with the front end still off. He told her that the engine had to be taken out to fix an oil leak and he would have it put back in soon and it would be ready to test in a week. That has been more than 3 weeks ago, and he does not returned calls. I feel like we have been fairly patient, and understanding that he has a small shop. The lack of communications back from him has become a real concern, and my fear is that this car is likely never going to run again. The lack of returning calls, and having to try and catch him when he is at his garage has raised a lot of doubt, and we see no end to this pattern. I am looking for some advice on next steps. I would prefer to get some advice from someone who has dealt with this before. I know that it is not an option to just go and have it towed. He has started work on it, and I am guessing that this may become a civil legal matter. He has started work on it, but there is no guess as to when or if it will ever be repaired.

You do not say that you paid him any money yet.

If so, I would send a tow truck to take my car to another shop.
Make sure the tow driver also picks up any parts that mechanic Number one already took off.


Well you beat my record of 7 weeks for a transmission overhaul. Same story, car in pieces collecting dust. Stopped by every other day. Supposed to be done in a week. Transmission only lasted a year so hope the quality of your work is better.

Here’s the thing, you are in for the duration. You can’t hardly have the thing towed out if its in pieces. Who would put it together again? Plus, you’d still owe him for the work done and the new engine. So best just to keep up the visits and encourage him to get it done. What legal action do you think would help? What are your losses at this point? Just time. I guess wait to see if the job is done correctly and if not, then you have to have someone else deal with those issues-however, you still need to give the guy a chance to fix whatever problems there are legally before going somewhere else. In my case it cost me another $400 to have a shop fix the problems, then another $1500 a year later for another overhaul. I had a spare car though. It’s called changing horses in the middle of the stream.

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And your story . . . and this one, as well . . . is a perfect example of why every household should have a spare car. Our spare car isn’t much to look at, and isn’t worth a lot, but it’s mechanically in good shape and has been quite reliable

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I always like rying to work with the owner. It sounds difficult at this point. Do you need another car? One thoughts just going and sitting in the waiting room every day.

this is a good point

I have that “spare car” now and it substantially lowers the stress of having the main commuter cars in “always good to go” state, moreover, I consider it lowers the need for us to replace commuter cars as often

The last few years we’ve had a few not-at-fault accidents

In each instance, we opted to use our own spare car, versus getting the rental

The rental would have cost us nothing, but I don’t really like the added responsibility of driving somebody else’s car . . . unless it’s part of my job

speaking of rental cars . . . when I was at the dealership, enterprise was on the premises, and dealership employees supposedly got good rates. Many guys took advantage of this to take weekend trips to Las Vegas or what have you. I always thought this was funny. If you’re a mechanic, then presumably your own car should be up to a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. I think it was more about image, though, as these guys tended to rent cars that were far more luxurious than their own

I hit this situation twice with small shop and major engine work. It took 2-3 times as long although done inexpensive and well.

Not much to do except wait. Don’t use small shops for major work as they cannot manage it all. Hopefully the work is inexpensive at least.

It depends on whether the shop is a good one or not. If a good one, best to be patient. there are all sorts of reason why complications can develop and need more time. They may be waiting on a part for example, something they have no control over. Or there could be computer compatibility issues, etc. They may feel calling you back is just a waste of their time, b/c they have nothing new to say.

So the key question is : How did you determine this shop is one that provides excellent service? Recommendations from people you know? Found it listed in the yellow pages? How?

It’s gracious of you to understand that a small shop may take longer to complete a repair like this but it’s also the shop’s responsibility to complete the repair with reasonable knowledge and skill and in a reasonable amount of time. With him not returning your calls, I would look up your state’s UDAP laws (unfair and deceptive acts and practices) and/or contact your state’s licensing agency and file a complaint. The mechanic has a lien process that protects him in the event you don’t pay a $50 repair so I think you need to pursue the avenues available to you.

I guess I disagree that filing a complaint is a reasonable or prudent thing to do at this point. My experience with the Attorney General complaint process is that they write a letter to the vendor and the vendor responds, then they report the response to you. They don’t really negotiate a settlement and tend to make the vendor mad. That’s not helpful for a one man shop working on a car.

Why would there be computer compatibility issues . . . ?!

I don’t disagree that the complaint process isn’t great. But, at what point is it reasonable or prudent to pursue some action - legal or otherwise? He has been lying to the customer about the completion date and then dodging his calls. The shop is leaving the customer with no choice. The OP didn’t say this is a one man shop, just that the mechanic owns his own small shop - could be more than one tech. As an owner of multiple businesses, I would never treat a customer this way and, if I did, I shouldn’t expect my business to be a going concern. At the least, the shop needs to give the customer an update on the status of the repair and an expected completion date. The OP has been more than patient for a repair that was originally quoted as a one week job.


Isn’t this about problems during an engine replacement job? ECM compatibility (including software versions) seems like a pretty common thing reported here for that.

The shop is swapping out the engine, not the ecm

So your comments don’t make any sense to me :confused:

As long as the replacement engine is identical to the original, you are right, the ecm shouldn’t be a problem.

No money has been paid. This is a one man shop and the mechanic rents the garage space. We made an unexpected visit this week and no one was there. The car could not be seen from the outside. Calls this week have gone unanswered. The car was towed there on Aug 22nd and today is November 2nd. The car is basically scrap without an engine and with the mechanic not being up front or returning calls, I have little hope that the car will ever run again. I do have a spare car and I will just say that it was not my preference to have the car go there. I was against it, but the car is in my wife’s name and so there we go. I am past the bad decision to take it there but I am left with the aftermath. At this point, I will be sending a registered letter and making sure the car has not been moved or sold for parts illegally. My patience has run out, but in the end the car is not worth a lot without an engine, so I need to move on. There is no point in hiring legal help for something worth a few hundred dollars. I would rather just go buy a used car somewhere.

how old was this car? yes a scrap car is worth a few hundred. but you have the title. cant sell it too junkyard without one. yep.

… and some people lease cars that are beyond their means, which is even worse in the long run. I know a guy who gets the same–or slightly higher–pension benefits than I receive, so he should be in good shape financially. However, his gambling habits keep him in a situation of having no cash reserves.

Every few years, he leases a new Cadillac. When I asked him why he was spending so much money on a luxury car lease, his response was, “The doorman at the casino hotel is really impressed when I pull-up in a Caddy”.
Yeah, that’s my goal in life… To impress a doorman.

It is a 2010 Mazda CX_7 without a running engine