9 November 2009

Losses and Lessons: Repair Shop Neglects Delorean

VEHICLES COVERED: 1981 Delorean DMC

WHAT WENT WRONG: An owner of a pristine ’81 Delorean brought it in to a repair shop to fix an overheating problem. The garage was a huge 40,000-square-foot facility filled with cars and equipment when he dropped it off, and it appeared to be a reputable business. But days turned into months, and the shop delayed the repairs. Calls to the garage were ignored. After two years, the man finally got a call, but not the one he wanted. He was informed to get a tow truck and to take the car home – the business had been closed.

DAMAGE: When he returned to retrieve his car, the Delorean was the only vehicle remaining in the huge facility. It had been left outside the entire time it was at the shop, the body had deteriorated and the interior was ruined. And even if he could have driven it home, it probably would have still overheated; the mechanics never worked on the car.

LOSS: Unfortunately because the car was left outside and deteriorated because of the weather, none of the damage was covered by the insurance policy. A relatively simple overheating problem turned into a costly restoration because of the delinquent repair shop.

LESSON: The Delorean owner should have checked on his car as soon as his gut told him something fishy was going on. It’s always important to check on your vehicle if it’s going in for a restoration or a repair that’s expected to take longer than normal.

The single best resource for finding competent, reliable repair shops is “word of mouth.” If you belong to a car club, ask your fellow members for recommendations. Visit the facility before you commit to a shop and make sure the vehicles in their care are properly stored. Also remember when doing business with a repair or restoration shop to put your agreement in writing before any money changes hands and before any work begins. You could also ask for a statement from the shop that the car or parts are fully insured against loss and damage while in its possession.

BOTTOM LINE: When considering repair shops for your collector car, remember what your mother always said: “If in doubt, don’t.”

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