Need guidance - How to explain timing belt repair to Judge?

Thanks for providing suggestions to my earlier postings.

The Consumer Protection (CP) folks communicated with the mechanic couple of times. They felt I have a case. They suggested an arbitration . I agreed to it, but my mechanic turned down. CP suggested to take it to court.

My mechanic determined my car’s (1999 Camry 2.2 engine) timing belt had slipped off the spindle. He Steered towards engine replacement. It is a long story.

I talked to my lawyer, who feels we need competent person to explain timing belt slipping situation on non-interference engine & does not need engine replacement for this situation, but timing belt repair fix the issue to judge in court.

I talked to couple of mechanics, who agree on such fix (timing belt repair) for timing belt slipping situation on non-interference engine. They are not good at explaining things to a lay person.

We all know that the judge knows nothing about cars or timing belts. This person need have life experience of repairing timing belts. Credibility is key when presenting my case, he has to be good at explaining the mechanics of the engine to a lay person and able answer judge’s questions.

Where/how can I find such competent person, who is willing to explain to judge in court?

Thanks for sharing.

Let me get this strait?

The vehicle is 16 years old, the timing belt failed on a non-interference engine, and you want to sue somebody?


I’m with Tester on this.

But there are also a whole wagonload of details missing.
How many miles on the engine?
Exactly why did the mechanic suggest a new engine?
What other engine problems did the mechanic discover when he looked at your car? The whole list, please.

And exactly why are you trying to sue the mechanic?

If another mechanic said its repairable, why not just have that mechanic fix it? Why on earth would you want to sue someone on an opinion? The car might be worth $1000. A couple visits to your attorney will total the car. In having a difficult time on your thought process.

The backstory:

Uh, I believe the issue is that the mechanic unnecessarily replaced the engine, and the OP wants to show that the belt could have been replaced (a lot cheaper): “He Steered towards engine replacement.”

“It is a long story.” I’ll bet it is.

But I think your expert witness need not explain it to the judge. You (or your lawyer) just has to ask questions so that the expert’s answers tell the judge what she/he needs to hear/know. Doesn’t Hamilton Burger always object if Perry Mason’s witness is “narrating”?

I think your real problem will be getting an expert witness (and a lawyer) whose fees won’t bust your budget.

From the mechanic perspective sure you could spend x amount of dollars, but maybe your engine was not worth putting the money into because it was worn out. Too many questions and too many lawyers and too many people willing to sue because they failed to read the manual for prescribed maintenance.

Uh, I believe the issue is that the mechanic unnecessarily replaced the engine,
Well, actually RIMD Toyota unnecessarily (or not) replaced his engine, utilizing advice supplied by his mechanic. RIMD Toyota, of his own volition, elected NOT to have a second opinion, signed off on the repair...and, some time after the fact, had second thoughts, and desires to retroactively rescind his consent to allow repair.

Do I have that about right?

This is YOUR decision to make, RIMD Toyota; YOUR property. Unless you allege that mechanic’s advice was malicious (i.e. designed to line his pockets) or incompetent (i.e. there’s no possible way any other mechanic would see any value in replacing the engine in this scenario) you’re on the hook.

Used-up engines are like snowflakes; no two are used up in exactly the same way. SO, saying that “Joey Monkeywrench” said that he wouldn’t replace the engine on a (hypothetical) vehicle of the same make and model is about meaningless…perhaps there were additional demerits re: the engine that, on a whole, argued for replacement rather than a timing belt slap.

Even if your mechanic holds a minority opinion regarding how aggressively to treat the problem…if it’s a valid (though unpopular) opinion, tough. Could you imagine how awful it would be if every decision a mechanic (or, heck, YOU) had to make were held to a majority vote…and you HAD to fall in with the majority???

You had every chance to get a second opinion and did not. Take your lumps and move on. In the future, perchance consider that your “ready, FIRE!, aim” decision-making process might leave something to be desired?

Personally, I don’t think that you have a case and certainly not because some mediator said you do. Mediators generally have little or no mechanical knowledge and after several conversations they may feel you have case simply because they can’t understand a thing the mechanic is telling them and “it sounds funny” to them.

If the leakdown was that bad on the 2 center cylinders that usually points to a head gasket problem as mentioned by keith months ago.

There’s a huge difference between a snapped belt on a free-wheeling engine and a snapped belt caused by other parts failures; say a leaking water pump that finally gave up, etc.

If you’re wanting someone to go into court and provide a spiel about timing belts then that person had better have a lengthy conversation with the mechanic who changed the engine and that person should also be aware of any contributing factors which caused the engine failure.
That person would also be looked at as an expert witness and will bill by the hour.

As meanjoe75fan stated, you approved the engine swap voluntarily and this could also be looked at as buyer’s remorse.

I didn’t read the back story but can certainly see why someone might suggest just doing a new engine as a less risky proposition. Put $500 plus into a worn engine that might fail again in 30K, or spend $1500 to $2000 and put a fresh trouble free power plant in? Like I said before, I don’t believe in major repairs to engines but a belt is not necessarily a major repair, but maybe he looked at the rest of the engine to suggest starting fresh. Hard to sue someone for a professional opinion.

“maybe your engine was not worth putting the money into because it was worn out.”

With an engine that is 16 years old (coupled with an unknown maintenance record and an unknown number of miles on it), it is entirely believable that it made more sense to replace that old engine, rather than repair it. There is every possibility that this engine was ready for retirement even before the timing belt incident.

Winning a lawsuit relies on proof, and I don’t know how the OP would be able to demonstrate to a judge that this engine was in very good condition after 16 years of use.

I am going to be flagged but I don’t care. This RIMD person has also been putting this timing nonsense on another Forum for quite awhile. This is a perfect example of the need of a IGNORE button.

@VolvoV70 Agree; this is the type of thing that clogs up our court system. Products under warranty have a clear channel for addressing problems. This situation does not warrant a response, other than “Get a life!”

Almost all (civil) lawsuits have two general parts: 1. Liability and 2. Damages. Even if you COULD prove fault 100%, you still have the damage part. Maybe the value might be $2000-2500 for the whole car, how much is the engine worth? Or should you choose to estimate the damage part by return of the money earned by the mechanic, how much did he make? Or set the value by replacing the engine with a comparable one? In all of those situations you’re still less than a grand, IMO. A lawsuit? Arbitration? Two lawyers and a Judge PLUS an expert witness? Even at $100 each per hour, how long will it take to reach a point where the process will outspend the outcome? IMO it will be upside down rather quickly. To answer the OP however . . . any competent mechanic in business for several years will have enough experience to testify about timing belt replacement. I’m a shadetree and I can probably testify, except about shop time and pricing, and there are standard shop time/rates available on the web. Seems like someone is trying to prove a point here and not considering how to settle the matter. The car is still in need of repair, isn’t it? Rocketman

RIMD, I read your original thread thanks to insightful having provided the link.
Your old engine was shot IMHO. The mechanic was totally correct in suggesting a new engine. A new timing belt would not have fixed it.

If you believe you can run an engine forever simply by looking under the hood “on and off” and occasionally changing a belt, you’re dead wrong. And if you think any judge in the land would find in your favor in a lawsuit based on what you’ve posted, you’re dead wrong once again. You’re wasting your energy chasing something ridiculous. Buy a lottery ticket instead. Your odds of winning are better.

Unfortunately, you lack of responses suggests that you’re not even bothering to follow the thread. Hopefully you won’t sue us for giving you good advice that you don’t want to hear. You do seem to believe the civil courts have some “pot of gold” just waiting for you to get it.

Well-stated, Mountainbike!

Timing belt was probably 15 years old with the leaky water pump. The engine was worn out and needed replacing. You spent the money and now you can drive it without blowing oil and coolant out the tail pipe. Suck it up and move on. Your wasting the courts time.