Quantcast

How to handle a bad situation?

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
15,684
2,022
Colorado
So I've got an interesting one that I could use some feedback on how to handle a situation.

As most of you guys know, I lost my license back in August because I had two seizures. In the interim, I needed to hire someone to drive me to work every morning, because I need to be at my office at 4:00am.

I have a good buddy who recently quit his job, has no income, and no car (as his recently died). We had an arrangement such that he would have my car for 3-4 months (Jetta), I would pay him $700/month, cover insurance, and bridge tolls. He would pick me up for work at 3:35am every M-F. The only condition being that he take care of the car because we were going to sell it immediately after I got my license back. Throughout this time period I have been referring business to him and helping him out by taking an old full XTR kit and swapping it onto his bike. Kind of as an additional thank you for waking up ass early and taking me to work.

Two weekends ago, it dumped snow in Tahoe, so he and a few buddies drove up there. I had no concerns, as he has chains that fit my tires and has driven to Tahoe multiple times. The following Monday when driving me in, he was telling me about the trip and how at the chain stop they just blew through instead of stopping to put the chains on. I had some concerns after him telling me that, but he didn't crash the car so I didn't say anything. I just commented on how dirty the car was, but got no response.

After two weeks and a bunch of rain, I finally got my license back and my car back from him. I noticed some nicks from parallel parking on the bumper, but they weren't bad so I just brushed it off. The car was still pretty dirty, and there was what looked like some salt around the front wheel wells so I planned to was it this weekend.

I decided because it was so dirty and I didn't have time to wash it myself that we would go to the car wash and have it done. Well wife comes up and asks about the wheel wells and I note that it looks like dried salt, but upon closer inspection it is actually really bad chipping on the paint. I cleaned off the area and on a 1-10 scale of f*ed up, I'd put it around an 8. There are large sections where it had been blasted to the sheet metal. Plus the direction of the damage is both ways, so it is from both reversing and pulling forward. It looks like someone was stuck in an icy, dirt parking lot and was gunning it both ways to get out of the spot. This is something that should not have been a problem with chains mounted.

I have been driving up to Tahoe multiple times per year for ten years and never seen damage like this. It's almost to the point that it looks like donuts in the snow were involved.

The level of damage is so bad that I will probably have to get the sections bondoed and re-sprayed to make up the loss in value due to the damage. I'd probably peg the damage at ~$1000 loss in value (at best) on a $6000 car, but the cost of repair is probably going to be around the same. This doesn't even take into account the assumed poor treatment of the car because of the damage.

On top of this one of the few things I asked him to do was to check the oil regularly because, like every other VW, it burns oil at just under a quart every 1000 miles. At more than one point I asked him to put oil in because you could hear the engine was low on oil. Just this morning I checked and the oil was low again by almost 2 quarts.

I'm not really sure how to bring this up with him and how to handle it, because he did us a huge favor driving me into work every day. Beyond what we were paying him and giving him for free, he might have cost us an additional $1000+ (I'd assume notably more).

Any ideas on how to best handle this? He's a good friend, but how he treated our car, and not telling us that there was damage is so ridiculously disrespectful that I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
15,684
2,022
Colorado
Well, he called and I brought it up. He seemed genuinely surprised, so I don't think he realized what had happened. It sounds like he did have chains for some stretches, but there were 1-2 extra links after he bolted them on. He was using old style chains vs. cables, and most of the damage is at the closest point of the fender gap. It sounds like a legitimate accident.
I'm going to just write this one off, but I will be far less likely to help him out with other stuff going forward. This is going to cost me far more than the time value of what I help him out with usually.
Now to find a set of used Jetta fenders in the same color to replace these ones...
 

dump

Turbo Monkey
Oct 12, 2001
5,775
584
Yeah, tough situation. If he did that damage to the car and didn't notice, he is incredibly irresponsible (unless it happened when he was not in the car, but what you describe sounds like it happened while driving). If he did damage the car and isn't owning up to it, that not good. Either way, as you said - it is a good idea to think twice in future dealings.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
16,778
1,445
01776
cars are tough...you lent it to a friend, and the car becomes theirs. I feel as though you have to outline exactly what you want a person to do with your car, or they'll treat it as their own, which might equate to very poorly. You can never assume that somebody will treat your chit the same way you do.

Can you rattle can it to cover it up? Maybe get a body shop estimate of how much it'll cost to fix? It may not be too big of a deal to cover it up and live with it.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
15,684
2,022
Colorado
The damage is pretty bad and we are trying to sell the car, which is my biggest issue. He knew we were going to sell the car, which is also my bend on this. Either way, I am digging around for used fenders in silver, to see if I can just replace the quarter panels.
 

-BB-

I broke all the rules, but somehow still became mo
Sep 6, 2001
4,256
28
Livin it up in the O.C.
What should you do? Well, it depends.

How much do you value your friendship with this person, vs the value of the damage. Simple cost benefit calculation. If the friendship is more valueable, which I'd imagine it is, then you should still at least try to bring it up, but not as something that is a HUGE deal. More of a "wow, you really thrashed my car while it was in your care". Obviousuly though, you are not going to be asking him to make monitary compensation, but he should know what he did to you. If you were... I dunno... out dancing and by accident your friend was flailing wildly and smacked you in the face, you would alert this person to the fact, but not jump down their throats about it.

If the car is more important, then... Well... Sounds like you will be trying to get blood from a stone. Or Blood FOR a Stone in this case. ;) You can feel justified in your actions, but guaging from the description of the friends situation, you won't get anything of value... just lose a friend.

Oh, and btw, sorry to hear aobut he seisures. Hope it works out ok for you.
 
Last edited:

dump

Turbo Monkey
Oct 12, 2001
5,775
584
What should you do? Well, it depends.

How much do you value your friendship with this person, vs the value of the damage. Simple cost benefit calculation. If the friendship is more valueable, which I'd imagine it is, then you should still at least try to bring it up, but not as something that is a HUGE deal. More of a "wow, you really thrashed my car while it was in your care". Obviousuly though, you are not going to be asking him to make monitary compensation, but he should know what he did to you. If you were... I dunno... out dancing and by accident your friend was flailing wildly and smacked you in the face, you would alert this person to the fact, but not jump down their throats about it.

If the car is more important, then... Well... Sounds like you will be trying to get blood from a stone. Or Blood FOR a Stone in this case. ;) You can feel justified in your actions, but guaging from the description of the friends situation, you won't get anything of value... just lose a friend.

Oh, and btw, sorry to hear aobut he seisures. Hope it works out ok for you.
Good advice.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
15,684
2,022
Colorado
From the sounds of it the chains were the issue. Hopefully the respray/new fenders are cheap.
 

kazlx

Patches O'Houlihan
Aug 7, 2006
6,924
1,808
Tustin, CA
FYI, silver is one of the hardest colors to match. Personally, I would try to buy replacements off of a wreck. Paint and body work is typically ~$500 per body panel for normal fixing. Obviously, the more damage, the side of a truck or something or frame damage, the more cash, but that's pretty much the norm from a reputable body shop for superficial repair work.
 

buildyourown

Turbo Monkey
Feb 9, 2004
4,837
0
South Seattle
I read your first post and my thought was, "sounds like he put chains on and they came loose"
This is very common with cars and cable chains. Real chains stay tight, but you need a lot of clearance to run them.
One of the biggest road hazards up hear after a storm is running over thrown chains. I would chalk it up to an accident.
FWIW, I will only put chains on a FWD car if I am STUCK and need them to move. Otherwise, you are safer with good tires.
 

stoney

Part of the unwashed, middle-American horde
Jul 26, 2006
15,684
2,022
Colorado
To resurface this old thread, we finally sold the Jetta yesterday. After the 'incident' the ABS light wouldn't turn off and under some investigation found that the ABS harness had been sheared by chain abuse.

We ended up getting $4500 even including all of the parts necessary to do the 60k and 90k services (belts, water pump, a series of sensors, brakepads, etc) which should save the new owner about $750.

I figure that the damage caused took ~$2500 off the value of the car (including spare parts). All-in, (cost of driving + insurance + tolls + bike upgrades + mileage depreciation) I would have come out over $1k positive to have just hired a car service.

I'm probably going to mention in passing that we sold it at a 30% depreciated price due to the damage. I don't expect him to pay me, but I want to make it clear to him that his lack of attention just cost me $2k.

Lessons learned:
1) Never get into a business deal with a friend (see Dante)
2) Present value of a hard asset is almost always greater than future value.
3) Never loan your car to someone without the expressed agreement of 'you break it, you buy it'.
4) Always make sure that your bill of sale includes a 'no warranty, as-is' clause. Because the poor bastard that bought this thing is going to hate life as soon as the VW gremlins start showing up.