What should I do to this "mechanic"?


My coworker recommended this mechanic to me that just did his toyota’s timing belt, I need a timing belt change too. This guy let me drop off my car at a garage, and drove me to my work. At the end of the day, he picked me up to the garage. I did hear some noise but by asking some other mechanic, they said generic timing belt would have some noise.

Well, I found the truth in a really hard way, the “mechanic” actually broke the bolt for the tensioner, and might just used some glue to glue it on and some cable tie to keep it in place. And I had to replace the whole engine block.

I don’t have this guy’s real full name, only a cellphone number. The condo where I drove to the garage might not be his rent. What can I do?

I don’t disclose the details here for privacy reason, but if anybody wants to know, let me know. It’s in Santa Ana, California.


Let me see if I understand this correctly.

You handed your car over to someone who claims to be a mechanic, but who has no fixed place of business, and whose name you do not know.
Besides not having a fixed place of business, he has only a cellphone for you to get in touch with him.
And, he royally screwed up the repair job that you paid him for (undoubtedly in cash).

Besides pointing out your poor judgment in selecting a “mechanic”, I am pretty much at a loss to know what to suggest to you. You might want to contact the local Office of Consumer Affairs for their advice, but they may not be able to help you either. If the information that you provide to the Consumer Affairs people, or the Office of the Attorney General, or the local police, is as scanty as it seems, then you have very little tangible information for any investigator to “go on”.

I really hope that you prevail in getting satisfaction with this situation, but I have to say that I am not optimistic.


I always want to know if a contractor working on my house carries insurance. You assume a mechanic iwith a “shop” has insurance to cover accidents and mistakes.

In this case you’d have to ask this “dubious” mechanic for credentials and whether or not he can provide proof of insurance to cover his mistakes. Sadly I think you don’t have much recourse. If you can find him you can take him to small claims court and sue him for damages. You may, or may not, get a sympathetic judge.


Thanks for the reply. You understood me precisely. I admit I was stupid. Only because I thought this is a good business model for people busy working, and he could earn an honest living by providing good service. Apparently I’m too naive.


I don’t have the full name, might have to hire somebody to find that out.


When you realized there was a problem, did you give the “mechanic” an opportunity to make it right? Or did you have someone else install a new engine??

“And I had to replace the whole engine block.” No, you did not…Broken bolts can be repaired. There is more to this story…


Oh, I didn’t realize the problem was that bad, thinking just some noise, but drove on for about half month, and on the freeway one day on my way to work, the engine just broke. I was able to pull over to the shoulder.
I didn’t trust to call him on this. Do you think somebody use cable tie in the repairing will help you when you go back to him? I just won’t even bother to contact this guy. For my understanding, if he had a problem, he could just tell me, and by drill out the broken bolt, it will cost some money but way less then if there’s any major damage to the engine. I went to a shop where they opened the cover of the timing belt compartment and it was filled with metal dust, the compartment cover was also broken. Something kind of sanding down metal from the engine block.


I would at least ask for the repair money back.

Timing belt repairs are best left to dealers or competent mechanics especially those who will give 1yr/12,000 mile warranty parts & labor.


Let me guess this was not a certified mechanic, glue and a cable tie is my first clue, let me guess, english was a second language,

“I thought this is a good business model for people busy working.”

The business model in my guess is get into a country without papers, do crappy work at half price.

Maybe you can get them to fix it but I support regular businesses not fly by night operations, sure sometimes it works but you are hurting every one, including yourself in the long run.


“Do you think somebody use cable tie in the repairing will help you when you go back to him? I just won’t even bother to contact this guy.”

Sorry, but since he did the original repair, he gets first shot at making it right…Since you “never bothered” to contact him, he is never going to bother to compensate you…


If I remember correctly CA requires a repair shop to be licensed. That is to protect the consumer only, and is not a benefit to a mechanic. Since he is not licensed, he was paid to install the belt, which he did, and it worked. That is where his warranty ends, and possibly his liability. You will have to check with a lawyer.


At this point there probably isn’t anything you can do except learn from the experience. I have colleagues who “always” seem to know where a person can get auto repairs done cheaply. They are always telling me that the independent garage where I take my vehicles charges too much. However, my vehicles run flawlessly and these colleagues are always having problems. I know automobile work can be pricey, but if the job is done correctly, I soon forget about what I paid. On the other hand, if the job isn’t done right and I have to keep returning for corrections, the low price doesn’t seem like a bargain.


So often people recommend independent mechanics, but sometimes an independent mechanic is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

I have a friend who did something similar. She let a friend of a friend do the timing belt job on her Honda Accord, and he messed up the timing. She ended up having to pay for the same job twice.

As nice as it would be to seek justice, I think doing so is going to cost more than it is worth. Go ahead and report it to the police and see what happens. If you are lucky enough, the police can at least identify the “mechanic” so you can take him to small claims court.


Thinking it over again, I think I finally understand why this guy did that.
From my co-worker, I heard that he once had a bolt drilled out by a shop, for $300. I drove my car in under good condition, and it’s almost impossible for him to convince me that the bolt was broken before he touched the car. To avoid the relatively costly work, he didn’t tell me all these, and just put some glue on it.


…and, because he has no fixed address, he knew that he could get away with slip-shod workmanship.

We all want to save money, but I hope that you now realize that a repairman of this sort is not somebody to whom you should entrust something as expensive as a car.


Is this some backyard, shade-tree operation??


Nope. A shade-tree mechanic would be an improvement because trees don’t move!

This guy sounds like one of those “gypsy” auto body guys who goes from door to door offering to take out minor dents and to repaint your car while he sits on the curb in front of your house. Then, next month when the poor-quality paint falls off the two inch thick Bondo, he is nowhere to be found.