Who should pay? Mechanic broke piece

Mechanic replaced door lock actuator as electronic door lock was not functioning properly. When they called me to tell me it was ready, they said another piece had been broken in the repair as it was “brittle” … when I picked the car up, the lock was functioning properly (yay!) but the broken part is the trim around the door handle - VERY noticeable - and after paying $300+, I now have this broken piece to look at … AARGH! The guy had offered to try to find me another piece but did NOT offer to pay for me. I called the shop back today and told them I thought they should find one and repair free of charge but now I’m not sure … I have more work that needs to be done (MUCH more expensive) and am just not sure I want them to do it now … is there any proper protocol on this issue? The car is a 1996 and has been properly loved and cared for … the “brittle” comment just seemed lame to me.

Door handle trim especially plastic gets very brittle when it ages. Since your vehicle is about 17 years old then brittle is probably an understatement. I would just pay for the part and find another shop if this one no longer suits your need. The shop could have paid for the item as a good will gesture but some shops do and some don’t. It’s your call.

I agree, it probably was brittle. Talk to the shop manager, see if they will allow you something towards your future repairs.

I have some marks on my dashboard where a panel needed to come off to fix the AC controls. Unfortunately some parts do break when you remove them. Sometimes a dealer might work on a particular car more freqently and the techs are more familiar with just how much force works and how much is too much.

I think most shops try to keep customers happy, but sometimes stuff does break. I think you might need to talk to the shop owner. Try to be reasonable and hopefully you can be satisfied.

I have a 97 Accord. The Accord’s of this age had a history with defective door lock controllers, but mine was replaced under warrantee. They did manage to put a chip in the trim piece, about a 1/4"x1/8" when doing the replacement, but I never noticed it till now. The answer is yes, this is a brittle piece and gets more brittle with age. BTW, the dealers cost to replace at the time (1998), was $200, to Honda.

I am 100% with Missileman on this one.

And I have good news and bad news. The good news is that this piece of trim should be pretty inexpensive and easy to replace. The bad news is that you may have to order it through a dealer. Try the boneyards, by all means, but expect that you may have ot pay dealer price.

Thanks for input, guys! I’m glad to hear the “brittle” remark was probably true and not trying to cover up carelessness on the part of the tech. I’ve had other door lock problems on the car and now have the ones in back seat disabled (just use manually). This is the first time I’ve left a service place with something broken that wasn’t when I drove in, though, so appreciate another perspective. YES, I’ve found ordering parts through the dealer can be expensive. Unfortunately, the car is a station wagon and Honda just didn’t make that many, so there are very few parts available in the boneyards, either …

Even though your car is a station wagon it’s very possible the door hardware on the coupes or sedans are the same, definitely worth looking into.

Is THIS it??


DOOR HANDLE TRIM 96 ACCORD WAGON Type this in google shopping or copy this link

Your part is cheap no more than $20 One Phillips screw holds the piece in it takes 5 min to install.
I broke mine replacing the actuator but as a customer service based business they should offer some kind of compensation.Good Luck Happy Motoring

All plastic gets brittle with age and subject to breaking, or flat crumbling, at any point. The injection molds are kept going 24/7 turning out this garbage and disentegrating plastic is a way of life.
One strives to avoid breaking it but sometimes it happens no matter how much care is used.

You should see the inner fender plastic on the old Merkurs. It’s 3/16" of an inch think and can be crumbled between the fingers like a regular potato chip.

I can sympathize with your mechanic. I’m good at breaking parts that weren’t broken when I replace another part. I had a mechanic accidentally hit the radiator and caused a leak when he was replacing a water pump. He took the radiator to a shop and had it repaired with no charge to me. His rates were always so reasonable that I offered to pay the charge or at least part of it, but he wouldn’t hear of it. The year before, this same mechanic spent half an hour on the telephone with me when I was in graduate school and had a problem when we were ready to come home during a break. He told me how to get it running, but said not to turn it off for the 120 mile trip and stop at his garage when we hit town and he would take us home. He wouldn’t take anything for his time on the telephone.
Removing interior door panels always involves some risk on breaking parts. I have never removed a door panel without having to make a trip to a parts store for more plastic clips. Removing the plastic trim panel to replace the radio on the 1978 Oldsmobile I used to own put me in a real state of panic. The Oldsmobile was 16 years old at the time ( the same age as your Honda). Age, summer heat and sunlight makes plastic brittle. If I were a mechanic, I think I would much rather work on late model cars than older cars where the plastic parts become brittle and the nuts and bolts are hard to remove because of the rust. I’ve had to fix my old cars out of financial necessity and, for me, it wasn’t much fun.

If I had been the one working on your car and that piece broke/cracked/chipped during the “normal course of a routine repair” I would have replaced the part and added it to your bill (no labor charge, of course). As cars age, sometimes we can follow repair procedures to the letter and still have plastic pieces brake due to the normal deterioration of materials. Now if I took your door trim off and accidentally stepped on it, I’d replace it for free.

I assume you have some level of trust with this shop, and believe them that they didn’t break it through carelessness.