Should I pay?

I had my mechanic change my timing belt and water pump. He called me late in the day and said he would have to keep it another day or two because something went wrong when he started it up, and a valve got bent. I am imagining this is going to be a lot more expensive than the timing belt/water pump, my question is: Should I end up paying for his mistake? or should I try and negotiate paying what he originally quoted me?

So far I don’t read that the mechanic is asking you to pay more money. The quote for the timing belt change is what you should pay. The additional “bent valve” problem is on the shop to make it right before returning your car to you. It will take more time to repair the valve which is all the mechanic is telling you at this time.

For now you do nothing.

If you brought him a fully functioning car, that rolled into the shop under its own power, and during his work on the car, caused damage to the engine, its entirely upon him to repair all the damage he caused, and only charge you for the original work that you authorized.

Since he informed you of what happened, and is in the process of fixing it, as long as he doesn’t try to charge you any more for the work than the original cost of the timing belt change, I would say that this is probably a good shop that you want to keep.

Good ethics in business and customer relations is important.
You might want to add his shop to the mechanics files after all is said and done.


I agree with the 2 previous posts, but, just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, I would contact the shop to confirm that you will incur no additional charges. Never assume anything! Otherwise, sounds like a good shop. Mistakes happen even with the best.

I agree with the others. I doubt he’ll expect you to pay. I wouldn’t do anything. I’d go pick it up and then if the bill is more than you expected, that’s when you kick up a fuss.

Just to be clear, the bent valve is almost certainly a result of the timing belt being installed improperly, with the timing not correct.

I’m assuming here the car was running fine when taken in?

If so, this means there were 2 mistakes made:

  1. Failure to install the timing belt correctly.
  2. Mistake 2 was not rotating the engine through by hand several times before attempting to start it. Doing this would have prevented the damage as it would have made it clear that something was not right.

Again, if the car was running well when you took it in for this job then he screwed up and should pay for the entire job, and it will be expensive. Negotiate nothing except he ponies up.

If the car was towed in then that’s an entirely different matter.