Is necessary to drive over 9 miles to fix a catalytic?

I live in elizabeth, nj… My car inspection expired on september 2013, i did not have money to repair it, so now february 2014 i got some money saved and decided to resolve that problem… Never got a ticket… I took my car to an auto repair place in order to get it fixed to pass the inspection. This place has a MVC licence to inspect cars… The mechanic checked the car with the computer and said the car had 2 codes with several repetitions… The problem was the catalytic and some gases… Sorry, I do not know too much about cars… My car is a Chevrolet Venture 1998… He gave me a price to get it fixed… The mechanic said he would give me a call when the car is fixed and it has passed the inspection so I can pick it up… I agreed… This happened around 5 p.m… At 8:36 p.m. I received a call from him… I picked up thinking my car is ready… However, he asked me if the car had a problem with the alarm system… I said no… He said well I was driving the car and the alarm started to sound and the car lights started to blink and that he did not know what to do… That he has been calling me several times and I did not pick up my phone when the only call I had from him was the one that I was receiving at that moment… I told him that the car has a button and that he just has to press it and problem resolved… He said well I do not have the car… I had to leave the car to call my son to pick me up… I asked where is my car, so you just abandoned my car… He said what did u want me to do then… He said in his way back home, he saw when the police took my car and he did not talk to them… He left my car abandoned 9.9 miles away from the city where I live… His shop is in my same city… And he drove all the way down to jersey city… He did not take my car to MVC, so he can get a permission to drive it while it gets fixed… He did not ask me for permission to drive it out of town… When i asked why he left my car abandoned, he said that he did not want the police to think that he was a thief… Now I had to pay for the towing the storage, etc $220… Now I have 4 tickets 2 of them for blocking traffic, one for failure to inspection and the last one for abandonment of vehicle… All of them require appearance on court… I talked to the mechanic, he screamed at me and my mother… He does not want to pay for anything… My questions are: Is it necessary to drive a car 20 miles in order to get a catalytic fixed ? Can a mechanic take a car out of town without notifying the owner? Why does a mechanic have fear of the police and think that the police would think he was a thief??? Don’t mechanics have a plan B in case the car they are fixing starts acting up? If you are a mechanic don’t u have to know how to deal with an alarm going off?
I know I am asking lots of questions, but I am desperate because I don’t feel like is fair for me to be paying 4 tickets, appearing in court when I was not driving the car at the moment… I would really appreciate answers… Thank you

If this story is as you related then I’m appalled that a mechanic would abandon a car for whatever reason. It sounds like he was using your car for personal use and decided to bail on the problem rather than wrestle with it; including an immediate tow bill to the shop.
This could have been very easily explained to the police and they could have sorted it out quickly but this would have put him on the spot in front of the police about having your car in a place where it should not have been.

You may get stuck on the tickets but if I were you I’d go after that guy with a lawyer or small claims court and try to hit him with some punitive damages if that is allowable

He’s responsible for your car the moment you left it with him and I don’t see any way on Earth a small claims judge would let him weasel out; assuming he even had the gall to show up for court.

A quick read shows that you can sue for up to 3 grand in NJ small claims and the filing fee is 15 bucks; which is cheap enough. Small claims court is not a big deal at all. It’s very informal, low key, and nothing like those hokey TV court shows.

That guy sounds like a real piece of work. There are worse names but in a family friendly forum those can’t be stated.

After an emissions related repair, like replacing a catalytic converter, it is customary (at least for me) to test drive the car on the freeway to ensure that the repair has been successful and the car is ready for emissions testing. I take a route that involves freeway driving and puts just under 8 miles on the car. So yes, it may be necessary to drive the car 9 miles as part of an emissions repair.

The rest of your story is something out of a disaster movie. Personally my advice would be to pay the fines, but that’s just to avoid ever having any more dealings with this idiot.

lita2005: First, it was almost impossible to discern your meaning because of your writing. You have two paragraphs, which makes it very hard to read. You also have 36(!) ellipses, which is about 34 more than you need.

Ok4450. Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but OP hired mechanic to apparently replace the cat and pass inspection. That requires getting it “ready to test,” right? I don’t know how many miles (minimum) it takes, but is ~10-20 out of line?

THEN mechanic gets stranded by an anti-theft that OP neglects to tell mechanic about, and then doesn’t answer any calls. I can ceratinly see sympathy for mechanic here!

OP, part of ANY repair is verifying that it works and is safe prior to returning it to the customer. That requires driving the car!

(I will concede he panicked and used lousy judgement when the car died on him.)

I fully understand any test drive for whatever reason but it’s not even clear to me if the car was even repaired or not.
The OP said the car was left at 5 P.M. and they got a call somewhat over 3 hours later. There’s not a lot of time frame there for driving from Point A to B, getting a repair done, suffering a problem, waiting for a son to come pick him up, and then returning to Point A, or C if that’s home.

One would hope this mechanic would have had the ability to kill the alarm or disconnect the battery temporarily but apparently not

I cannot drum up one molecule of sympathy for a mechanic who abandons anyone’s car on the side of the road. The guy says that maybe the police would think he’s a thief. Well, maybe the guy has a history with the PD and did not want his name to be anywhere around that car on the side of the roadway.

I’m assuming that if much more than 10 miles were added to the odometer, OP would made that abundantly clear.

A lot of mechanics will drive a customer’s car on shop errands, etc. as part of doing diagnostics or to make sure a problem is resolved. You can’t diagnose a problem without putting a vehicle through its paces, and why just pay a worker to endlessly drive it around the block?

But for this guy to abandon your car, get it towed, then stick you with the bill is deplorable. Any and all fees related to towing, storage, and recovery, as well as any damage and any and all legwork to get your car out of hock should be all on him and not part of any repair cost. I hope you don’t have to go through the hassle of taking him to court for it, but I would if it came to that.

This seems like a tragedy of errors to me. I believe the OP did not realize the car needed to be driven to verify the repair, so why did the mechanic need to know about the alarm button? I’m assuming it is an aftermarket alarm, so how would he be expected to know how to disable it? By the way, I’m assuming it is an alarm of some sort, because I’ve not heard of any car function that does the flashing lights bit and need to press a button to fix. Maybe a malfunctioning hazard light switch?

But, why would the mechanic drive it so far from the shop? I’ve driven customer cars before, and have a route I like that takes me no more than a couple of miles from the garage, but allows me to put 8-10 miles on it. If there is a problem during the drive, help is not far away. For him to abandon it, especially blocking traffic is unbelievable.

My solution is to pay the fines and get the car first. You cannot let it sit in impound. They will start to charge you storage fees on top of the fines. Then, if too long, they can seize it. I like @ok4450 's suggestion. Take the mechanic to small claims court to recover the money.

But, get the car. I had a friend that worked for a tow company that did impounds. A classic Hurst/Olds that was involved in an accident and hauled to his yard. The owner got into a fight with the insurance company, and left the car at the yard during the dispute. No one paid the towing and storage, and the company owner was dragged into the fight by the car owner and was chewed out a couple of times. Once 30 days hit, he seized it under FL law and had my friend haul it to the crusher. I was there when he loaded it up, and nearly cried.

Small claims court. I think you at least have a valid argument. It may give you relief for all or part of the fines etc. Best of luck.

If you bring your mom along as witness to the screaming you may win him over. No one like it when someone yells at anyone’s mom who is completely unrelated to anything.

What a said story. There are lot’s of worse things but as far as car mechanics is concerned, it really lends credence to "trusted independent " reference as being really tough to find. My only advice after the great stuff so far, would be to deal with large repair shops or dealers with many mechanics who have a degree of reesponsibility to people other then just their customers. If a mechanic in your situation is going to pull something like, drive your car out of town, it has to be backed up by a boss and any towing services are done by that agency. I liken it to being sick and going to a care facility with a team of doctors with shared responsibilities instead of one general service by one doctor for everything.
I know it can be more expensive, but it’s the price you pay for being more dependent. Otherwise, everyone seems to have covered all the bases very well.

Read between the lines.

Mechanic abandons the car in the lane of traffic. From that, what can we surmise about the street in question? I’m thinking a heavily-travelled arterial without breakdown lanes–on a quieter street, the car could be pushed to the shoulder, or driven onto the breakdown lane of a busy road with a shoulder.

So, we have mechanic, in a dangerous location, unable to contact OP. Despite OP’s insistence to the contary, it is reasonable to side with mechanic that he tried to call her–for self-preservation alone. (I know my cell call log is not 100% foolproof.)

When mechanic calls OP to find out what the deal is with the immobilizer that OP neglected to mention, what happens? Well, given that OP wasted no time insinuating theivery (or at least improprieties) here, it is plausible that OP did exactly that over the phone!

So…you have a mechanic stranded in a physically dangerous location, by a anti-theft system that OP failed to mention, who is implicitly accused of theft by OP. Damn skippy I’d be getting out of there! You can say the mech’s a [spinchter] all you want–I ask, was it provocated? Given the (fairly likely) scenario I’ve painted, I’d behave similalry–call me a sphincter all you want, just let me add “well-justified” as a prefix.

And OP, you absolutely have an ethical and moral obligation to inform mech of any quirks and foibles of your vehicle that could leave him and the motoring public in harm’s way. That’s elementary.

If codes were cleared, the car would not immediately pass emissions inspection due to a not-ready state for several of the monitors. Without the proper scan tool, the only way to have those monitors return to the “ready” state is to drive the vehicle. Perhaps that’s why he was driving the car.