Do I have legal standing on repair at local Toyota dealer?


#1

I would like ask the public if there is any legal standing on car repair which was outright fraud - in my opinion.

A friend of my wife has 92 Toyota Avalon with 230K miles. She went to local Toyota dealer because of oil leak. The laundry list from Toyota dealer consisted of 3 items: replace motor oil pan and plug, transmission oil pan gasket, and head gasket. This 63 year old lady barely speaks few words in English, not to mention any knowledge about car - except it is a moving thing. She went for first 2 items from list (replace motor oil pan and plug, and transmission oil pan gasket) simply it was all money she had. She paid about $560 for it. The head gasket replacement was to cost about $1000.

The dealer service guy said they had to replace oil pan because the oil plug was some non-standard thing and that it was leaking.

The problem is, obviouly, the oil leak was still there. When I found out about it, I took the car local car repair shop, and die test showed the problem was oil leak in valve gasket and distributor ring. Plus some other tune-up, and for $550, the fix is done and no more oil leak.

I am thinking, the dealer wanted this lady spend $1000 for non-existent head gasket problem, so now I question whether oil pan and plug, and transmission oil pan gasket were indeed problematic or not. This dealer credibility is zero at this point.

So, my question is, if I take this dealer to small claims court for car repair fraud on behalf of this lady, for attempting to make this lady spend $1000 for non-existent head gasket problem, do I have any legal standing? What you folks think?


#2

You have no standing on this. Not your car, not your money.


#3

Nope. You are correct that they did expensive work that was totally unnecessary, and didn’t do the correct diagnostic work to actually solve the problem, but proving it will be impossible. It’ll be your (her) word against theirs, they’ll be considered experts and she won’t, and they’ll get her to admit that they did the work they claimed.

IMHO anybody that replaces an oil pan because the plug is leaking at the drainhole is an outright crook. Every other bit of work then becomes suspect.

Be sure everyone you know knows what they did. Perhaps you can prevent someone else from getting robbed there.


#4

for attempting to make this lady spend $1000 for non-existent head gasket problem
First off, you can’t sue for intent, only real damages.

The problem is, obviouly, the oil leak was still there. When I found out about it, I took the car local car repair shop, and die test showed the problem was oil leak in valve gasket and distributor ring. Plus some other tune-up, and for $550, the fix is done and no more oil leak

The only thing you know is that the prior work did not fix ALL of the leaks. It doesn’t prove the other leaks weren’t there. The only thing you do know, and the repair shop is likely to admit to, is that they may have mis-diagnosed the remaining leaks as being from the head gasket. Since they didn’t do that portion of the work, you can’t hold them liable. That’s my opinion anyway…


#5

Forget it. You have no way of knowing if there were multiple oil leaks or not. On a car that old, the pan and the valve covers could be leaking. I really wonder though if they were talking about the valve cover gasket and not the head gasket. It wouldn’t make sense for them to come up with head gasket diagnosis for an oil leak.


#6

First off, thanks all for comments. Appreciated. The Toyota dealer repair bill showed head gasket (no mistake here) repair to be done. Local car repair where I took the car told me (after die test), valve cover gasket and distributor ring was corroded to the point of leaking.

“It wouldn’t make sense for them to come up with head gasket diagnosis for an oil leak”

That plus replacing oil pan - to defraud (in my opinion) a literally poor old lady who can barely aford few hundred bucks car repair expense. This from a Toyota dealer.


#7

This is not your problem and you are a non-issue on this matter.
A 20 year old Toyota with going on a quarter million miles can be reasonably expected to be leaking just about anything from anywhere.

Is there any other reason a head gasket diagnosis may have been offered? Say any overheating problems, loss of coolant, engine oil dilution, and so on?
A failed head gasket can have many symptoms other than an external oil leak.

Even if were your car I don’t think there’s a legal leg to stand on and you were not privy to any conversation between this lady and the Toyota dealer. You do not know what was or was not said between this lady and the dealer and believe me, there is often a huge disconnect when someone is trying to get a mechanical point across to someone who is not a mechanic; and in this case, speaks little English.


#8

Any car can have multiple oil leaks. Perhaps the oil pan and transmission gasket were showing signs of leaking when the Toyota dealer inspected and fixed the car. You have no way of knowing the pre-existing condition of the car before it went to the Toyota dealer. The court would have no information on which to base a decision and would have to assume the dealer acted in good faith.

It seems to me this little old lady isn’t so gullible after all. Her decision to fix the 2 items and not go for the head gasket was sound and rational.


#9

I guess you can have the old lady write a letter to the dealer manager, then if no response another one to the local rep and so on and so forth until you get to the local news media. Only thing you can do here is bad publicity and even that should be fact based-wrong diagnosis and asking for a partial refund, you might get lucky, but be careful that they don’t come back with defamation claims against the old lady.