77ºF

Single mom claims she lost money to mobile mechanic

Local 6 investigation finds mechanic is unlicensed

photo

OCALA, Fla.Aug. 17, 2015, UPDATE: After our investigation, the state of Florida opened an investigation into L&M Mobile Mechanics, according to Aaron Keller with Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

An Ocala mother said she lost money after dealing with a mobile mechanic.

Mobile mechanics have become more popular because of the convenience they offer. They come to you and fix your car on the spot, or they pick your car up and take it to their shop.

[WEB EXTRA: Motor Vehicle Repair information]

Miranda Ganceres' 2000 Ford Mustang was her pride and joy until the clutch went out and she needed it repaired.

"There was a guy in my neighborhood that had a card from a mobile repair person," Ganceres said. "He said, 'They're decent, just call them.'"

That referral led her to L&M Mobile Mechanics. It would cost her thousands.

"I'm a single mom and I lived in Orlando on my own," Ganceres told Local 6. "I was trying to go to school there. I ended up spending so much money [on car repairs] I had to move back here to Ocala."

Ganceres said Lenny Matranga agreed to fix her clutch and she still has the folder of invoices.

She made two payments, one for $418, another for $159, according to her bank statements.

Matranga had the car for two weeks, so she said she racked up fees for a rental car. When she finally got her car, not only was it not fixed, it was worse, she said.

"When they gave it back to me, it sounded like it was dying. It sounded horrible," Ganceres said.

Ganceres ended up taking the car to another mechanic.

She also filed a complaint with the state Department of Agriculture which oversees mechanics.

That was two years ago. The complaint was closed because according to the state L&M went out of business.

But our investigation revealed L&M Mobile Mechanics is still operating.

In fact, when Local 6 called them about repairing a van, Matranga's partner showed up with no problem, looked under the hood, and offered to fix it.

He even left a card. It has a different business address from two years ago but the same mobile number.

When Local 6 researched L&M further, Local 6 found the owner, Lenny Matranga, has no business license and hasn't had one since April 2014.

However, that didn't stop him from working on Claude Dixon's car just last month according to Dixon.

"I feel like I got robbed," Dixon told Local 6.

Dixon also has the receipts from L&M, one for $1,000, another for $320, and many more.

He spent a total of $2,300 to make repairs to his Saturn Vue, but it still isn't fixed according to Dixon.

"I don't think he should be in business if he's a deceptive person like this," Dixon said.

Vanessa Jones, a spokesperson for AAA, said consumers should do research.

"Many of us just make the mistake of just asking a friend, 'Who do you recommend?'" she said.

Florida has no certification for mechanics, but most reputable shops require them to have a certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

License and certification should be prominently displayed, and even mobile mechanics should be able to produce them.

It's a lesson Ganceres and Dixon learned the hard way.

Since he is a mobile mechanic, Local 6 couldn't ever catch up with Matranga to question him.

But a spokesperson with the Department of Agriculture said operating without a license comes with a $1,000 fine and they will close the business.