Repairs done without permission

My daughter’s car broke down and called a friend to tow it for her. The next day he towed it to his shop, never telling her, although she asked, how much the tow would be. When she called later that day after school to get a price he stated he didn’t know yet, he was in the process of replacing the fuel pump. He never asked to do any repairs on the car, nor did we at any time say that he could, but we let it slide because we knew the fuel pump needed replaced. She called again the next day to see if it was done and to get a cost and he stated that the bill was $650.00 because he had replaced several other things, including brake lines. We still don’t know what all he replaced because we have never received an estimate or a bill. I called him and asked for an itemized bill and he stated that he didn’t have one, but could quote some prices over the phone to me on some of the work he had done. I asked him if she could make payments, since $650.00 is a huge bill when all you asked for was a tow, and was told she could not. He is now holding her car until the bill is paid in full. I asked him who gave him permission to replace the parts and he stated that no one specifically, but why would we have him tow it to his garage if we didn’t want him to fix it. He never spoke to me or my husband only to our daughter, I feel like he’s taking advantage of a naive 19 year old girl who doesn’t know any better. I made sure to ask my daughter if she had ever told him it was ok to do any repairs and she stated that she had not. What are our rights here? Are we responsible for anything other than the tow and the fuel pump, since all the other repairs were done without our knowledge?

WTF ? Why did this BONEHEAD do all of this? This guy sounds like a total jackass. AND he has the Ba^%s to now demand $650 with no permission to work on the vehicle, NO diagnosis, NO discussion of work, nor any type of payment plan for his demands of funds ?

CALL THE POLICE…That’s called extortion.

I am a mechanic and a former repair business owner…Give me his number, I will have a field day with him. LOL… Just kidding, but someone is going to have a field day with him…methinks that will be Johnny Law.


You need the advice of a lawyer. Statutes regarding “mechanic’s leins” (which is what he’s attempting by “holding” the vehicle) and regarding liability for unauthorized repairs vary from state to state.

Depends on the state if this is Criminal …Definitely Civil though.

First thing I’d do is call the AG…And then a lawyer. Then send two guys from the schools football team over and nicely ask for the keys…LOL

I’d call the local police and tell them what transpired. He had no right to do any of that beyond a tow. They may tell him that he has to eat the unauthorized costs and that he cant hold your car… Give them a ring and have a chat…they will at least direct you if they don’t actually help you get your vehicle.

Friend who towed it to his shop…I am missing something. Is this guy just a friend or does he actually own/run an auto repair business ? If he doesn’t have a business, I would think a call to the local police to accompany her to retrieve the “stolen” property. It would then be up to him to receive payment through small claims from your daughter. If he does run a repair shop, it’s time to talk to the owner if it isn’t the friend and follow the previous good advice…except for the football players. Great “friend” this guy is. That there is no documentation on his part or signed papers on your daughter’s make me think that you should be able to retrieve the car.

Thanks everyone for your advice. dagosa, he is a friend who is the owner of his own repair shop, and we live in Ohio. I have contacted, via email the Better Business Bureau and also the Attorney General. If I do not hear from either of them by the end of the day, I will contact the local police.


You might as well forget about the Better FOR Business Bureau.
For some reason that I cannot fathom, many folks seem to think that this agency has regulatory and/or punitive powers. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

The BBB is a privately-run organization that sells local franchises all over the country. The local franchises make their money by collecting membership fees from local merchants. Additionally, some of the local franchises charge a fee to file a complaint.

If you file a complaint about a business that is a member, the BBB asks the member to satisfy your complaint. They do not issue orders. If the merchant does not satisfy your complaint, essentially nothing happens to the merchant except for a notation in his file.

Only after repeated failures (over a period of several years) to satisfy complainants will the BBB take their ultimate action, which is to refuse to accept future membership dues from the merchant. Since these dues are the lifeblood of their business, they do this VERY rarely.

If you complain about a merchant who is not a member, the complaint is simply placed in a file, and nothing further is done. Quite an agency, isn’t it?

My advice is to contact the governmental agency that actually has regulatory/punitive power, and that is the Division of Consumer Affairs, which operates on either the country level or the state level, depending on where you live.

A few years back, Smart Money magazine published the results of their investigation into the BBB and they concluded that, “Few consumers are actually helped by the BBB”.

Don’t waste your time and efforts with the BBB!

Make sure that you have 100% of the story from your daughter. How far are you from the shop?

For the record, VDC is right. It is of, by, and for the businesses. It is not a consumer protection agency.

Your state house should be able to direct you to the Attorney General’s office, wich will have a Consumer Protection Division or some similar name. I see you’ve already contacted them, and I wish you all the best.

Not sure how your state does it but don’t be surprised if the police decline to help you by telling you it’s a civil matter between you and the shop. They might accompany you to the shop to hear all sides but will probably end up telling you it’s a civil matter. Good luck and keep us informed.


texases, I have asked her at least 5 times to make sure she did not in any way tell him to make the repairs, and even told her that if she is afraid to admit it, I won’t be mad, just want to know and she insists she did not authorize any repairs. We live about 3-4 miles from the shop.

OK. Once you determine what others can do for you (AG, police, etc) you’re close enough to all go down and try to straighten this out. At least your not several states away, as sometimes happens.

Got an Xtra set of keys? Is the vehicle locked in a fenced in area? I bet it isnt… Use your imagination and turn the tables…get your car…OR HAVE IT TOWED OFF HIS LOT… Once you have your vehicle…then see how he goes about getting money out of you… Let him take you to court and they will laugh him out of the room.

Xtra key…Xtra key…xtra…

I do believe we have an extra key :slight_smile:

Got an Xtra set of keys? Is the vehicle locked in a fenced in area?

DO NOT do this…This will turn from a civil case to a Criminal case real fast. It may turn out well for you in the end…but it’ll get ugly before it gets better.

Really Mike? Whyso? Can he say that you stole your own vehicle? Or stole his services or something like that? I’d do it in 2 shakes of a lambs tail personally…I don’t think he has the balls to tell the authorities what he had done and keep it between the two of you. He cant even prove he ever had the car bec he doesnt have the VIN number nor the work done list or parts list or whatev…by his own admission. But hey that’s just me…Maybe don’t listen to me…but that’s what I’d do…I promise you.

Before you do much more, you need to find out about Ohio State law and mechanic’s liens. In some states, the mechanic can’t hold the car unless he files proper paperwork; in others, there is quite a bit of leeway in the law, working to your disadvantage.

Really Mike? Whyso? Can he say that you stole your own vehicle?

Because he’s going to have paperwork/documentation saying that he repaired the vehicle.

Let’s put a different way…If you owned a shop and someone REFUSED to pay…and then later took his car back with his spare key…What would you do?? Here in NH it’s a FELONY.

From the sound of it…it sounds like the OP has a legitimate complaint…but breaking the law is NOT the way to solve the problem.

.I don’t think he has the balls to tell the authorities what he had done and keep it between the two of you. He cant even prove he ever had the car bec he doesnt have the VIN number nor the work done list or parts list or whatev…by his own admission.

And you don’t think he’ll have that information by the time he calls the police. Remember we’re only hearing HALF the story here.

The point could be made that the OP was not privy to any conversation between the daughter and the friend/mechanic and it’s possible that the friend/mechanic could have been told to fix it even in indirect manner or he interpreted it that way. Now that the stuff has hit the fan the daughter could be denying any hint of approval or maybe genuinely does not remember any hazy approval. Just sayin’, and believe me this does happen regularly.

That being said, I’ll assume the mechanic just winged it on his own and plowed full speed ahead without any hint of an approval. In some states this is illegal so maybe that’s the case here.

What would I do? As mentioned, an extra key and go get the car after hours. A car owner cannot be prosecuted for taking their own car so it’s not auto theft. The mechanic could bring a civil suit against your daughter but he may have a difficult if not impossible time prevailing on this.
As to the extra key and taking the car scenario; seen that. :wink: