Surrendering old parts to customer

Hi, aren’t mechanics obligated (legally or otherwise) to hand over a customer’s used parts if she asks for them? I did just this yesterday at a Subaru dealership in California and then, at the end of the day, I forgot to make sure they had placed them in my trunk. They didn’t. Now it’s the weekend and I’m worried that on Monday they’ll say they disposed of them. The parts were not nearly at the end of their “life.” What’s the shop’s responsibility to me in that case?

Per the CA Dept. of Consumer Affairs - Bureau of Automotive Repair:

Even picking up your car was too late. You needed to request them when you dropped it off.

usually people don’t really WANT the old parts they just want to see them, to observe the condition they are in. although some people wouldn’t know if the part is bad or not by looking at it, the possibility is supposed to keep the repair shop honest. (really, if you were shown two parts, would you actually KNOW what you were looking at? i would bet half the people would not know) i don’t mean this disrespectfully, but if there was a part on the bench would you KNOW ifit came out of YOUR car?

in your case, what parts are you talking about that were “not at the end of their life?” im curious what they could be, and why you agreed to have them replaced if that is so?!

I don’t know the specific law where you live, but most shops will at least offer to show you the used parts and explain why they needed to be replaced.

I’m also curious why/what was replaced that was not worn out.

how about providing the entire story behind this?
what parts are you talking about, why were they replaced, did you authorize the replacement, and how did you determine the parts had plenty of life left in them?

many shops retain parts (should always be done imho)but they may not be around long.
the clutter can build up fast and neither the dealer or the tech wants to be tripping over scrap iron so it usually goes out pretty quickly.

one other thought.

look carefully on the estimate / authorization form. since most shops use a pretty generic form they almost all have a check box, or other place for you to indicate whether you want old parts returned to you or not. if you didn’t specifically indicate this, then they undoubtedly canned the parts.

If you checked the return parts box, they would probably have done it. Contact them on Monday to see if the parts are still around. They probably are, but it might be difficult to say that they were from your car at this point. It depends on whether they had similar repairs on other cars at the same time. When I ask for removed parts, I just want to see that the work was done. It’s often not possible to see the defect, especially with electrical parts or an assembly. I usually thank them and leave the parts at the garage.

Thanks, everyone, especially the person who found the language posted on the California consumer affairs Web site. Here’s the story: At 85k miles, my 1998 Subaru had massive oil leaks that needed repair. I went ahead and got the 90k service, plus I had my timing chain replaced because it’s located behind whatever it is that takes all day to remove so that they can fix the leaks. That part isn’t typically due to be replaced until 105k but the labor cost to get at the part is so exorbitant I went ahead and had them do it all now. So they agreed to surrender the timing chain, water pump, and anything else that didn’t have to be dismantled in order to be replaced. You are all right – of course I wouldn’t know one part from another but, yes, I did want proof of the replacements (so far nothing to make me think they didn’t put in brand new parts). Occasionally, someone on my local Freecycle bulletin board is looking for after-market car parts – who knows, maybe these will be useful. If not, I can dispose of them responsibly myself. For now, I’m just glad that major repairs and maintenance are out of the way. Thank you again to everyone!

You don’t say which model Subaru, but you don’t have a timing chain; you have a timing belt, probably.
Understand your concern about ensuring the parts were replaced, but unless you have a slimey dealer, I think you got what you paid for. Most dealerships don’t want to risk a major fraud lawsuit over this.

I can assure you nobody’s so frugal that they would want a used timing belt-- a new one’s pretty cheap, it’s very difficult to change and if it fails it’ll wreck your engine.

well i ask myself everytime someone comes to our shop after they have been somewhere else for simple service job or whatever and the other shop tells them they need something repaired, but proceed to bring it to us so we can check it out and make sure it is actually bad and needs replaced, why in the world would they take thier car to someone for anything if they dont trust what they have to say? anyway we have to keep any parts we replace that are under warranty and the ones that arent we have no problem showing the customer the part or for that matter going to the waiting room and dragging them out in the shop and under the rack and show them the problem and explain things to them before we do anything. i dont know why you would want the old parts to take with you though they will just sit around in the shed until you cant walk around in there w/o tripping over them .

There is a difference between ‘after market’ parts and used parts. “After market” usually refers to a new part manufactured by someone other than the O.E. (original equipment) manufacturer. A used part is just that–used. Let the auto recycling places sell the used parts. Any reputable shop, if you check the box on the reapir authorization form or ask right up front, will, at the least, show you the parts and explain why it should be changed out now. Some shops don’t allow customers into the service bays because of their Liability Insurance Company’s dictates. Some will allow in there if you wear the proper safety gear like a hardhat and adequate safety glasses/goggles. If you aren’t very familiar with a service bay, stay out. There are numerous potential hazards. Oily floor because they just got a vehicle out of a bay and haven’t yet had a chance to sop up the oily substance? With your regular footwear, you slip and what happens? That’s just one. And what if someone is brazing or welding? To get flash-burned eyes doesn’t require you to even be in the same bay as to where the welding is being done. You could be 100 feet away and still get flash-burned without the proper welder’s helmet or goggles. So why chance it? Just have them show you the parts and explain their reasons for replacement. Like your timing chain (or timing belt). Probably a timing chain as most serpentine belts don’t need a whole heck of a lot of engine dismantling to get to. Smart move, by the way, on having it changed out now. Saves you the cost later of having the same amount of dismantling done just to change the timing chain. You actually saved money. It’s one of those “well, while we’re here anyway, better do it now than pay a heck of a lot later” things. If you didn’t get every last 1/10th of a mile out of it, had it “prematurely” broken, it would have cost you beaucoup bucks to have that chain replaced plus all of the other peripheral damage that would have happened to your engine. Penny wise and pound foolish is not a way to look at automotive situations. Remember Murphy’s Law. And not all Dealers or other shops are out to take you unnecessarily to the cleaners. In this instance, good moves all around. They also most likely also inspected other timing chain-related components and determined that those other items are completely presently serviceable. There’s an old saying in business–any business, but especially in the ‘service’ sector. One satified customer will get you 10 additional customers. One dissatisfied customer will get you at least 10 less referrals. Sounds like they did alright by you this time. And if you never had any past issues with them, stick with them–at least until your warranties have all expired.

Thanks for continued discussion, it’s all helpful. Timing chain, timing belt – I had another car once and I called it a belt and they chastised me because it was a chain, not a belt. So now (98 Subaru Outback wagon) it’s a belt – I don’t mean to offend anyone! After all, knowing the difference is why they have their job and I have mine, right? But seriously, I think my main problem with this shop is that I made such a point – with three witnesses present – of informing them that I expected to have the parts after the work was finished (no box to check on a form, however) and none of them remembered it, either. I wish they felt like it was part of their job, not mine, to follow through. It’s now a week later and if and when they confirm that they indeed have the parts, maybe I’ll just get my closure by looking at them and then respectfully request that they dispose of them. I just know I’ll disappoint some poor gearhead on Freecycle by not taking them, but oh well. (By the way, having paid the ungodly price tag on all that work, I certainly can’t be called penny-wise – regrettably!!) Thank you all again for adding to this discussion, it’s very enlightening.

Just remember this. If they all of a sudden and miraculously “found” your parts that have been allegedly ‘just been sitting around the shop’ for that long, how can anybody guarantee that those parts they show you are actually from your car? Or even from that make and model car? I’d just move on and remember the lessons learned from this experience.

if the subaru mentioned was the 6 cylinder it would have a timing CHAIN, since the length of the motor does not provide clearance for e belt vs the 4 cyl.