Shalom U Veracha,
This past erev shabbas, erev shavuos my wife was expecting to give birth. Therefore we decided to drive to her parents, in case I needed to take her to the hospital, her parents would watch the kids. The trip from Bet Shemesh ( where we live) to Zichron Yaakov ( where her parents live) is 1.5 hours by car. I rented a car from a local avreich for 300nis. The car looked old, but gauranteed me the car is in good condition and he knew I was going up north.
There was traffic, and 2 hours into the drive, and 20 minutes to go, I felt something wrong with the car. I immediatly looked at the dashboard, and the meter indicated the engine overheated! B”H there was a gas station right there on the side of highway and we pulled in. I called the dispatcher of the car – not owner-as I was put in contact with him, to hear what he wanted me to do. He didn’t answer ( I did not call the owner as I passed on to the dispatcher initially. Once, he didn’t answer I didn’t think to call the owner. But, I should mention, I have 5 overheated kids with me, after 2 hours of driving, in a very hot car in a gas station on side of the highway. IN ADDITION, at this point, my wife was getting steady contractions at 5 minutes apart! In fact, she went into hospital on shabbas morning and, B”H, gave birth- with in 24 hours of the incident! Nevertheless, I was determined to do the right thing under the circumstances.) I didn’t hear back from him for about 45 minutes! At that point, what was I supposed to do halachically?
In the meantime, I had a gas station attendant help me, as I do not know cars that well. He opened the hood and found there was no fluid in the radiator! I purchased fluid for 75 nis, filled it up. I then was in doubt if I can drive. On one hand I put in the fluid, on the other hand the engine was probably still be hot. I asked the man in gas station and he told and he thought it was fine to drive. To be safe, I called someone who I know to be very knowledgeable in cars and he said once I added the fluid into the car, driving would help circulate fluid into engine and cool it down faster and was the right thing to do. Having heard the same thing twice, and having spent 25-30minutes there, and my wife needing to get to her parents or hospital, it seemed going was the right thing to do. In addition, I only had an easy 20 minutes to drive, not a long drive.
In the first 15 minutes of drive I was watching the meter very carefully. I watched it drop, indicating that the engine was cooling down. Then it went back up then down several times. I called the one who I called earlier and mentioned this and he said it is fine and that it was slowly cooling down. Then, with 5 minutes to go, the car totally stop… the engine went!
Only at this point I received a return call from dispatcher. He was very upset as he claimed it is common knowledge that a car with overheated engine can not be driven at all.
The owner replaced the engine for 5000 nis. It was discovered that the pipe connecting from fluid to engine burst and that is why there wasn’t any fluid. And that is why the fluid i added didn’t help. He claims the car had fluid and the pipe bursting is normal wear and tear. I counter-claim that his car, Mazda 5 of year 2007 and 270,000km, wasn;t suitable for a long trip and more likely to have issues. People I speak to are surprised he sent me in this type of car. Also, I spoke to about 20 people that have in the same circumstance-overheated engine on highway – and do exactly what I did with there own cars. He claims the opposite, and that I just wanted to reach my destination at all cost. He says I was neglegant and owe him the full amount. I feel that I am at best an ‘ones’ and put in a very difficult situation, and therefore not responsible to pay at all. From my point of view ,it seems I did the best I could, especially since he wasn’t answering the phone and I had to decide what to do on my own.
He gave me a choice split the cost of new engine 50/50 or go to bes din.
Which does the Rav advise me to do in this circumstance?
Please let me know if you need additional details
I don’t know enough to say something on this, but in general, it is always better to do a pshara, before going to a din torah, because you can never know what will come out of it.