Can an auto repair shopcharge for storage if no work was ever done to the vehicle?

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Can an auto repair shopcharge for storage if no work was ever done to the vehicle?

Took car to mechanic to have engine replaced. He had done other work for us. We found out today this guy doesn’t own the shop like we thought. The real owner won’t let us have the car. We owe for storage he say – $3,000s. There was never any work done on the car. I didn’t think they could do that unless the work was finished?

Asked on August 13, 2010 under General Practice, Oklahoma

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Automobile mechanics, contracts for auto repair with such individuals and companies and storage fees are common themes in the small claims court circuit.  The reason in small claims court and not in traditional civil court or superior court is because the amount contested by either party is almost always less than the maximum amount allowed by small claims court.  If you took your motor vehicle to a mechanic, and the fact the mechanic is discovered to not be the owner of the auto repair business and this was a material issue for you to taking your motor vehicle there, then you may have a case of detrimental reliance (outside of any contract you signed).  Essentially, you relied to your detriment on assertions made by said mechanic that he was the owner and if you knew he wasn't the owner, you wouldn't have taken your motor vehicle to that auto repair business.  The fact you took your motor vehicle there before operates against you because you have had prior experience with this individual and seemed to have been satisfied with the outcome.  Now, if your deal with the auto repair business by contract did not include storage fees at all or only storage fees after your motor vehicle is there for a certain period of time without payment to the auto repair business, the auto repair business certainly has no right to any storage fee.  Next, if you had no repair done to your motor vehicle and expected work to be done, then the auto repair business has no right to charge you storage fees.  In many states this could be considered fraud and much worse.  Check in with your state's attorney general to file a complaint and get your motor vehicle back.


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