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Shop Illegally Repaired My Brake Lines

I recently took my car to a small repair shop in Texas to repair the brake lines. I asked them on the phone if they had the flaring tools to properly fix it, and they said yes, so I dropped it off last Friday (10/3/08). They called me the following day (10/4/08) and said that after patching the lines the brakes were still shot and asked if they could replace the master cylinder. I gave the go-ahead. Then on Monday (10/6/08) they called and said it was ready.

I went and paid them ($158.00, cash) and was given a reciept. As I was leaving the shop I noticed that the brakes felt a bit spongy, but otherwise felt fine. Left the shop, got one block before I said hell no. There was very little brake power, but I managed to get stopped and turned around. I took it back to the shop, put it up in the air and bled the brakes again, still nothing. I noticed that the brake lines were patched with rubber hose at this time, but didn’t really think about it that much, assuming they knew what they were doing.

So at this time, no brakes, they’re saying it must be the ABS system, they call a salvage yard and get a quote on the part for ~$50 and I give the go ahead to put it on, but if it doesn’t fix it that I don’t want to pay for it, but if it does fix it then alright. He agreed.

Luckily the ABS was for the wrong model car and didn’t fit. After talking to my father about the patch job they did he said that didn’t sound right and suggested I take a closer look. So I went up there this wednesday (10/8/08) to get the car until I had the money to fix the ABS.

I proceeded to leave (I owed no more money at this point) and the brakes were unable at this point to stop me from rolling forward in idle, effectively making it impossible to limp it the 4 miles home. At this point I looked at the patch job again and realized that it wasn’t braided steel flex-line or anything of the sort, it was regular non-pressure rubber hose, and over the course of only several days had deteriorated and expanded to almost double the size it was on Monday when I was picking it up.

At this point I just wanted to calmly get my car out of the hands of this shop, and to someone who wasn’t trying to kill me, or take me for all I was worth. (Replacing every part of the brake system until there was nothing left to replace, then putting the correct lines on it, saying that the ABS system fixed it.)

I want my $158.00 back, and would like to have some input on the best way to go about getting it.

What I plan on doing is goign up there with a local police officer (my cousin knows a few who would go with me in uniform) and politely ask for the money I paid for the repair back, and if he balks, threaten small-claims court to get the money, and to file criminal charges for criminal negligence and wreckless endangerment. (He did release me to drive away, and I got a block before turning back around.)

Is there anything else I can throw at this guy to try and get my money back? (And I’m thinking about pressing criminal charges anyway, who knows whose brake lines he’s repaired, they may end up slamming into me or any of my many family members who live in the area.)

Secretary Of State Or Department Of Motor Vehicles Offices …

… license repair shops and mechanics in my state, and I would have to believe the other 49, as well. Threaten to get him shut down. It sounds like he or his employee is not licensed in some way or form to be doing this type of work.

Mechanics must pass tests to become certified in areas of repair, such as brakes. I can’t imagine being able to pass this test and then doing this type of work. I believe his name and state certification number is required on your estimate/receipt. It is in my state. That by itself is a violation, if it’s not.

Try and get your money back and call or file a complaint online in order to save others from injury or loss of money. Read up on your state’s regulations. Armed with information about the shop’s and mechanic’s certifications should make small claims court a breeze if it comes to that. However, collecting the money is sometimes another story.

It’s hard to believe that a shop would patch a brake line with some sort of “off the roll” rubber hose. If it were me I would get the car pulled away to a reputable shop immediately and have it repaired correctly, saving the junky patch-work pieces with photographs pre and post repair.

Wow! Rubber hose to fix a brake line?!

First thing you need to do is to document the repair. Take pictures!

You do need to get your money back but you need to turn in this repair shop. If they did this to your vehicle there is no telling how many other vehicles are on the road with repairs done like this.

This place needs to be shut down.

From A State Brochure:

"? If You Have A Complaint

First, try to settle the dispute directly with the repair shop. If you are unable to settle it, you may file a complaint by contacting the Department of State at the number shown on this brochure.

If you believe you were charged for repairs that were not done or you were told you needed repairs which you later found were not needed (even if you did not have the repairs done), contact the Department of State immediately."

… license repair shops and mechanics in my state, and I would have to believe the other 49, as well.

NOPE…Many states don’t require ANY licensing or testing. Here in NH it’s easier to become a mechanic then a hair dresser. No testing…no certification. Now to be an official inspection station that’s something totally different. But to just open a shop and say you fix cars…all you need is money.

YOW! Get Your Kids Off The Street!

It’s the same deal in Maine

Yep . . . just hang out a sign. Scary . . . isn’t it? Rocketman

I can only speak for my state of UT, however when I went to my classes for emissions adn safety state inspection certificate, I believe the only thing required for a busisness to open and maintain a business is a business license he gets from the city in which they operate. Now all those plaques and certificates you see hanging on the walls of the shop are ASE certifications and other “certs” which means someone has been to a specialized class. The business owner will have his business license on display of the patrons, and he should (but isn’t required) have the safety and emission certificates of his employees hanging up. Unfortunately you probably won’t find a policeman willing to arrest someone because incompetance isn’t a criminal act. Neither is stupidity. What they did is wrong, and there is not excuse for shody work, so your only recourse is take them to small claims court. Chances are when they get their notice, they’ll be wiling to settle with you prior to making it to court. Good luck.

You should have another shop inspect the brake system without telling them what the first shop did. Frankly, I find it rather unlikely that any ordinary rubber hose repair would be able to withstand the pressures exerted by a typical hydraulic brake system. Are you sure that you were looking at the right thing? You weren’t looking at a fuel line or something?

Mike’s right, but I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. In reality it would be impossible to get a job to even learn the trade without ASE patches. Simply due to liability and common sense business practices it’s probably less likely that anyone would have an operating shop without qualified techs than it is to have a restaurant that’s well below basic Board of Heath requirements.

Licensure does not equate to competance. One look at the state of the medical industry provides irrefutable evidence of that.

I’m sure there are shade tree mechanics in the rural areas that do patchwork maintenance. I’m not sure licensure would improve things.

I concur…If a guy with 0 experience decides to just open a garage…the market should take care of itself…he’ll be out of business in a few months. Just feel sorry for the poor unfortunates who were his first few customers.

It was surprisingly easy to get all of my money back (including the cost of the master-cylinder). I just went up to the guy and told him his repair was the problem with the brakes, and nothing else, and repaired it myself with proper steel brake line (which I did), and after that the brakes worked fine. He said “let me get you your money” before I even brought up wanting my money back.