So a relative’s and one of the cars I maintain has a mechanical engine problem. I’ve had the flu all weekend so haven’t been able to tear the engine down but it is most certainly a mechanical issue, ie bent valve etc. The problem? The issue happened while being valet parked. She drove a friend to a doctor’s appointment and the hospital offered valet parking which she used, no charge. Ran fine when she dropped it off, when she got it back it was running rough and the check engine light was flashing. It will barely drive at anything above idle and has a code P0300, which is a general misfire (it can’t even specify the cylinder).

My assumption is that the valet had the car parked in snow and punched it to get out of the ice, while the engine was cold, so it either bent a valve or chipped a piston (no knock protection until the coolant temp is close to normal), I won’t know more until I get an inspection camera in there to find out.

The question is how much is the valet service responsible for? She has no receipt since it was “free”, and they used their own number tags on the keys which they kelpt. She does have a witness (the person she drove to the doctor). If it turns out to be a bent valve are they only responsible for the ‘book value’ of replacing a bent valve? Or should we push them for an engine rebuild if it’s a chipped piston? Realistically these engines are pretty available used in good condition and that might be the least amount of labor... It’s an older high milage car.

What should we be doing in this situation? She babies her car and can’t afford the repair on her own. She has no car until we get this fixed, should we be pressing for rental coverage? Should we contact her insurance agent? (She doesn’t have comprehensive).

tl;dr Valet blew the motor in my mother in law’s car, not sure what their liability is or how to pursue them.