What does a garage do when it has a car that is unsafe to be driven?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

What do you guys do when a customer brings you a vehicle that you consider unsafe, but he's too cheap to fix it? And what if it's in a state with no mandatory inspection laws? If you let the car go and the car breaks, with ugly consequences, you'd better have a good lawyer. But if you keep the car and refuse to let the guy drive away, you can be arrested for grand theft auto. What do you guys do? -- Jon

RAY: Well, first we try to sell the car to my brother.

TOM: Actually, the first thing we do is try to convince the owner that the car really is unsafe. But if he insists on driving it away anyway, we make him sign a CYA form. That stands for "cover your butt."

RAY: We write on the repair order that we consider the car unsafe to drive and that the customer refused to do the recommended repairs. And we insist that the customer sign it before we give him his keys.

TOM: And, in some extreme cases, we've even gone so far as to write on the repair order that we've contacted the state Department of Motor Vehicles, reported the car as not roadworthy and recommended that the registration be pulled.

RAY: And, in some very extreme cases, we've even gone so far as to call the guy's wife.

TOM: Needless to say, we've lost a few angry customers this way. But we thought that we owed it to the other innocent people on the road who could be killed or hurt when these guys' wheels fell off or their brakes failed.

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