Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

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Latest post Wed, Nov 14 2007 12:03 AM by adjuster jack. 12 replies.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 11:55 AM

    Question [=?] Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    This question comes from IL.

    When a mechanic replaces parts to repair your car, do you have a right to keep the old parts?

    The reason I ask is that we may need to replace a catalytic converter on one of our cars. It turns out that the old one may be worth a decent amount on the recycle market due to the metals inside of it.

    So, if a shop quotes a price to replace it and makes no mention of keeping the old one, and the car owner agrees to the price, is the car owner within their rights to demand their old one back?

    It is likely that repair shops know full well that the used ones have value. They may try to claim that their quote includes them keeping it. But if they don't disclose that in the quote, can they indeed keep it against your will? Isn't that theft?

    Thank you.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 11:56 AM In reply to

    • carol3
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    Feedback [*=*] re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    Why don't you simply ask him for the old part when he replaces it?

    Have you done this before the work starts???
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 12:15 PM In reply to

    re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    Why do you have to make it so complicated?

    Take the car to the shop. Tell the people that you want the cat back and have them write that on the work order. Take a copy of the work order with you.

    That's your contract.

    Then if they don't give it to you, you can sue in small claims court for the scrap value of the cat.

    If they tell you up front that they will keep it, take your business elsewhere.

    It's not a matter rights, or deception, or theft.

    It's a matter of using common sense before you do something.



    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 12:43 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    A few states have enacted laws that require an auto repair shop to offer to return the parts taken out of your car. As far as I can tell, IL is not one of those states. You can see a summary of the IL auto repair law on the IL Attorney General’s web site at:
    http://www.ag.state.il.us/consumers/autorepair_act.html

    As a result, if you want the old converter back, make that clear before you give the shop the car for the repair and ensure that the return of the old converter is written in the invoice or contract you receive. That will eliminate fights over this later. The usual custom in the auto repair business in every place I've lived is that the shop keeps the old part, in part because non working parts are not worth much, if anything and car owners do not want them back. Thus, the shop disposes of the parts for the customer. As a result, absent some agreement to the contrary upfront, I rather doubt you can claim the auto shop stole the part if it does not return it to you. So, get the shop to agree to it upfront (or give you an appropriate discount to reflect it's value) or go someplace else.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 1:15 PM In reply to

    Disagree [)*(] re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    "...Why do you have to make it so complicated?..."

    And why do you feel a need to criticize my post? It doesn't seem that complicated to me. I am simply trying to know my rights BEFORE I have any work done. Shouldn't more people do so?

    It is annoying when shops take advantage of people, and many shops do it all the time. For example, I asked for a quote to fix a flat tire. A shop quoted $20. Then when I got the bill, they added $2.something in "shop materials".

    I'm not going to fight $2.something, but I still feel like they marked up the price and did not disclose the surcharge BEFORE the work was done. While it is only $2.something to me, it is a lot more for the shop when they factor in all of the repairs they do in a day.

    I don't understand why you think that someone wanting to be as informed as possible is making things complicated.

  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 1:59 PM In reply to

    Disagree [)*(] Not in IL, and not the Cat anyway,

    Illinois doesn't require a repair shop to offer the old parts back. In those States that do (Including CA, where I live) the request must be made at the time the work is requested.

    Where the old part has a significant "core charge", the shop will increase their quote to cover that charge.

    Now.... even in CA you can't get your old Cat back. That's because there's a Federal law that prohibits the installation of used Catalytic Converters. If you go to your local junkyard, you'll find that the only part they will NOT sell you is a Cat.

    Since the converter - especially off a wrecked car - can still be in perfect working condition, and a reasonably skilled home mechanic could remove a spent Cat and replace it with a used one, junkyards aren't allowed to sell them, and auto repair shops can't give the old ones back.

    Richard - Who now limits his car restorations to pre-smog / pre-Cat vehicles :-)
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 2:36 PM In reply to

    More [=+=] re: Not in IL, and not the Cat anyway,

    Thank you. It is helpful to know that there is a federal law in place. I'm not interested in breaking any of those! ! ! :-)

    I called a nationally known shop and they can put a universal one on for about $200, parts and labor.

    Which isn't bad considering an OEM replacement part is about $600 + labor.

    The OEM part may likely be more durable, but we're not keeping the car forever. The 2yr/25,000 mile warranty should be sufficient.

    Thank you again for the information.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 2:57 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    "...Why don't you simply ask him for the old part when he replaces it? ..."

    I might do better in my negotiations by understanding whether either party had an obligation to disclose who would get the old converter. I might be better off to remain silent on the topic if it was their responsibility to disclose something like them keeping the old one.

    Also, I wanted to know what my rights were if I asked for the old part back and they refused to give it back to me. (Other posts have clarified that they cannot give it back to me.)

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I do not feel obligated in a negotiation to remind the other party of costs that they forgot to factor in. Not just in this case, but in any transaction.

    For example, if you're buying a house, would you say to the seller, "hey, don't forget to factor in an extra $15,000 for the commission!" I surely would not, it is their responsibility to make sure they asked for a price that would include it.

    Thank you for your post.
  • Mon, Nov 12 2007 3:13 PM In reply to

    Note [#=#] re: Not in IL, and not the Cat anyway,

    "there's a Federal law that prohibits the installation of used Catalytic Converters."

    I don't know anything about this law, but, unless there's more to it, a law prohibiting the installation of a used catelytic converter should not prevent an auto repair shop from returning a replaced one to the customer.
  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 1:58 AM In reply to

    More [=+=] re: Not in IL, and not the Cat anyway,

    "I don't know anything about this law, but, unless there's more to it, a law prohibiting the installation of a used catelytic converter should not prevent an auto repair shop from returning a replaced one to the customer."

    It does. Used Cat converters have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Repair shops can't return them to the owner, and junkyards can't sell them.

    Richard

  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 1:10 PM In reply to

    re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    "And why do you feel a need to criticize my post?"

    Sorry if it seem like that was what I was doing.

    "It doesn't seem that complicated to me. I am simply trying to know my rights BEFORE I have any work done. Shouldn't more people do so?"

    Right. And you certainly are commended for doing so.

    "It is annoying when shops take advantage of people, and many shops do it all the time. For example, I asked for a quote to fix a flat tire. A shop quoted $20. Then when I got the bill, they added $2.something in "shop materials"."

    Now you know. Ask for a written quote and ask that all charges or fees be included.

    Like when I buy tires. I get a printout of all the costs in advance and the total is exactly what I pay when the tires are done. And if I want my old tires back, that gets written on the work order and I get my tires back.

    "I don't understand why you think that someone wanting to be as informed as possible is making things complicated."

    And I don't understand why you are putting words in my mouth.

    Show me where I said that "someone wanting to be as informed as possible is making things complicated."

    THIS is simple:

    Take the car to the shop. Tell the people that you want the cat back (or any other part for that matter) and have them write that on the work order. Take a copy of the work order with you.

    THIS is complicated:

    So, if a shop quotes a price to replace it and makes no mention of keeping the old one, and the car owner agrees to the price, is the car owner within their rights to demand their old one back? It is likely that repair shops know full well that the used ones have value. They may try to claim that their quote includes them keeping it. But if they don't disclose that in the quote, can they indeed keep it against your will? Isn't that theft?




    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Tue, Nov 13 2007 1:19 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    "... Now you know. Ask for a written quote and ask that all charges or fees be included.

    Like when I buy tires. I get a printout of all the costs in advance and the total is exactly what I pay when the tires are done. And if I want my old tires back, that gets written on the work order and I get my tires back...."

    It just seems like you have to go to greater lengths to get accurate prices when dealing with automotive related issues. In my opinion, some of their tactics seem pretty deceptive. But I hear you - the only way to fully protect yourself is to get it in writing before the work is done.

    "...And I don't understand why you are putting words in my mouth..."

    Sorry, that was not my intention.

    Thank you again for your post.
  • Wed, Nov 14 2007 12:03 AM In reply to

    re: Auto Repairs - Do You Have a Right to Keep Old Parts?

    "the only way to fully protect yourself is to get it in writing before the work is done."

    Absolutesly.

    And that goes for contractors and everything else, too.

    The only way you protect yourself is protect yourself up front.

    Millions of years ago when our ancestors lived in caves they learned that survival depended on being well armed and learning the tactics of the animals that preyed on them.

    Blaming the animals for eating them or asking what to do after the animals ate them just didn't work.




    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
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