Prosecutors put the brakes on a Redwood City auto mechanic who they say performed unnecessary repairs on two different undercover vehicles to confirm consumer complaints about being charged for unneeded work.
On Monday, Hudson Auto Repair owner Sohail Irshad, pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of false or misleading representations for performing unnecessary automotive repairs. He was immediately ordered to spend 30 days in jail followed by two years of probation and must pay the California Bureau of Automotive Repair $1,116.22.
The BAR is also working to revoke or suspend Irshad’s automotive repair registration, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
The case was the first against Irshad, said John E. Wilson, deputy district attorney in charge of the consumer and environmental protection unit.
"The vast majority of mechanics are honest, but occasionally either our office or the bureau get complaints,” Wilson said.
Such suspicions led the BAR and county Vehicle Theft Task Force on Nov. 22, 2010 to bring a car to Hudson that was equipped with a new alternator and alternator belt. The alternator had been unplugged so it would not charge the battery. Instead of simply plugging in the alternator, Irshad told the operator it was not working and the belt was old, according to prosecutors.
He charged the operator $442 for a new alternator and belt which he did install.
In February 2011, Irshad told the operator of a second undercover vehicle it needed unnecessary brake pads and rotors.
Complaints about unnecessary work is difficult to prove without the use of documented vehicles because it is hard to prove a personal car’s condition prior to coming in the shop, Wilson said.
Defense attorney Eric Hartman did not return a call for comment.
Wilson called Irshad’s sentence "very appropriate.”
Consumers should always check with the BAR before doing business with an auto repair shop by visiting www.autorepair.ca.gov or calling (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also contact the BAR to file complaints if they believe they were ripped off.
Wilson also suggests getting personal recommendations, checking with the Better Business Bureau and not going into a mechanic blind.
"The more you know about your car, the better shape you’re in,” Wilson said.
Michelle Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.