Mechanic has my car and money but wont answer calls and has not done any work

I met with a mechanic on 02/07 about putting an exhaust on my car. He said he could do it and asked me for the full payment. I told him I would pay for the parts and then pay him for the rest of his work when the job was finished. I paid him $322.00 for parts that he said he would order. I dropped the car off with him on 02/15 at 9am. He was not there but his worker was and I gave him the keys. I called the owner to let him know that I dropped it off by leaving a voicemail. A week later I call him two times to get an update and he doesnt answer, I leave a voicemail. My wife calls the next day and he answered and he said his mechanic had covid and was out. My wife went and looked at his buisness facebook page and there were new post stating he was looking to hire a mechanic. SO his mechanic was not out on covid, he did not have a mechanic and was looking for one. I decided to give him a week and I called him again, no answer. I called him the next day and he said he was working on my vehicle now. So I waited another week and called him again. No answer so I drove up there the next day. My car was sitting in the same spot I left it, in the ditch next to his shop. I tried calling again and he didnt answer. Im tired of waiting and I need my car back. Do I need to call the police or do I need to contact a lawyer to get my money and car back? I left him a voicemail this morning to advise him I am contacting a lawyer but I have no idea what I need to do or can do. I have a receipt for the money I already gave him

Get an aggressive lawyer after him.

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Go to the shop and demand your money back and take your vehicle to another shop.

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The mechanic has my only set of keys to the car and he wont answer the phone. I have come by twice and hasnt been there and none of his workers speak any english. Do you know if I can call the police department and have them come out and do anything?

I want to avoid doing that because it will cost more to do that then what the car is even worth

I’m not claiming that you gave bad advice, but I would be willing to bet at least the price of a cup of coffee that the shop owner has no ready cash available. And, if he offers to give the OP a check, it would probably bounce, thus causing the OP to incur a bounce fee from his bank.

If, as I suspect, the shop owner cries poverty and if he conveniently “can’t find the keys”, I suggest that the OP should simply use his spare key, drive the car to another shop, and then file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Affairs, at either the county level or the state level. It will take a while before he winds up being reimbursed, but it costs nothing to file an action against the shop owner with the Consumer Affairs people.

I dont have an extra set of keys to the car. The mechanic has my only set of keys. I called today and left a voicemail with the mechanic letting him know I would be contacting a lawyer and he did contact me back. He claimed that he found a mechanic and will start working on the car today and it would be done by the end of the week. So we will see how that goes. He apologized several times but I dont have much hope in him

Well, if he is really sorry, then he will give you a discount on the parts, and refund a portion of what you already paid.
His markup on parts is likely to be 100%–or something close to that figure–and if he refuses to make it up to you with a discount, then you can take to social media, and trash him for all to see.

At this point it might still be best to try for a refund and get your car back. If he is really this bad before he even starts working on your car, do you think his work is going to be any better?. I once had a carpet store lie it’s way out of my $500 deposit for carpeting. I had a choice, save my $500 and purchase the carpet or walk away losing $500. I walked away because if they were so dishonest how could I trust them to do the carpeting with any integrity. And yes at that time $500 hurt.


An exhaust system replacement can be replaced in one day. actually a few hours. it does not take a week. he said he is starting today; it should be done today. something is fishy.


How did he react when he learned that you left a deposit with the mechanic who apparently is now missing?

Like I said before, it took me 7 weeks to get my car back from the transmission shop, and I made pretty much daily visits as the dust collected. The good part is the car is not apart so you can simply stop by and pick up your car. What to do about the payment is another matter and may have to sue him. OTOH everything is upside down now and it is quite possible that the parts coming from China are caught up in the supply chain crises. No parts no workie on car.

@craftycooper1314_179765 You should have gone to a real muffler shop .


Hind sight is always 20/20 :roll_eyes:

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Many years ago, a friend’s Corolla needed a trans overhaul, so he took it to a shop that had been recommended by his regular mechanic. Almost 2 weeks later, his car was still parked outside, and no work had been done, despite the promise that it would be fixed w/in 3 days.

When I went to visit, the shop owner claimed that he was still waiting for parts, but I “convinced” him that he now had to reimburse my friend for car rental expenses subsequent to the 3rd day. That seemed to speed-up the process (surprise, surprise…) and the car was ready 2 days later.

When all was said and done, I managed to get ~ $270 taken off of the previously agreed-to price.

How do you know? Find a lawyer who will take the case on a contingency basis. Their fee comes out of the recovery they get for you. My wife did this all the time prior to her retirement. Your only other avenue is to get a ride to the shop, bust the door in, and beat the stuffing out of the mechanic with an 18" breaker bar until he gives you your money back. I can’t recommend this route unless YOUR wife is a lawyer. Mine had to get me out of a jam for this type of action a few times when I was younger and had a very short temper.

Your wife earned a living chasing $300 losses?

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I did go to a real muffler shop. His title literally has “muffler, Tire and auto repair”

Regardless of the outcome…your next stop needs to be by a locksmith to key yourself at least one more set of keys made.

It’s terribly risky to only have a single key for a car. If you had a second set now, you could have already gone by there and picked up your car.

Just food for thought.

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A real muffler shop does not have order parts . They bend tubing to fit each vehicle and any shop that asks for money up front does not get my business .