the Scare Out of Auto Repair:
Part 1 of
4 - The best way to avoid auto repair rip-offs is
to be prepared.
The best way to avoid auto repair rip-offs is
to be prepared. Knowing how your vehicle works
and how to identify common car problems is a good
beginning. It's also important to know how to
select a good technician, the kinds of questions
to ask, and your consumer rights.
to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the American
Automobile Association (AAA), and the National
Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), this
kind of information about your automobile may
help you keep a lid on mechanical mistakes.
to Choose a Repair Shop
What should I look for when choosing a repair
to Choose a Technician
for recommendations from friends, family, and
other people you trust. Look for an auto repair
shop before you need one to avoid being rushed
into a last-minute decision.
around by telephone for the best deal, and compare
warranty policies on repairs.
to see current licenses if state or local law
requires repair shops to be licensed or registered.
Also, your state Attorney General's office or
local consumer protection agency may know whether
there's a record of complaints about a particular
sure the shop will honor your vehicle's warranty.
Is one technician better than another?
Charges: Unlocking the Mystery
for shops that display various certifications
- like an Automotive Service Excellence seal.
Certification indicates that some or all of
the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge
and competence in specific technical areas.
Make sure the certifications are current, but
remember that certification alone is no guarantee
of good or honest work.
if the technician or shop has experience working
on the same make or model vehicle as yours.
Before you arrange to have any work performed, ask
how the shop prices its work. Some shops charge
a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published
rate is based on an independent or manufacturer's
estimate of the time required to complete repairs.
Others charge on the basis of the actual time the
technician worked on the repair. If
you need expensive or complicated repairs, or if
you have questions about recommended work, consider
getting a second opinion.Find
out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you
decide to have the work performed elsewhere. Many
repair shops charge for diagnostic time.Shops
that do only diagnostic work and do not sell parts
or repairs may be able to give you an objective
opinion about which repairs are necessary.If
you decide to get the work done, ask for a written
should a written estimate include?
should I know about the parts to be repaired or
are classified as:
should identify the condition to be repaired,
the parts needed, and the anticipated labor
charge. Make sure you get a signed copy.
should state that the shop will contact you
for approval before they do any work exceeding
a specified amount of time or money. State law
may require this.
do I need after the work is done?
- New - These parts generally are made to original
manufacturer's specifications, either by the
vehicle manufacturer or an independent company.
Your state may require repair shops to tell
you if non-original equipment will be used in
the repair. Prices and quality of these parts
rebuilt and reconditioned - These terms
generally mean the same thing: parts have been
restored to a sound working condition. Many
manufacturers offer a warranty covering replacement
parts, but not the labor to install them.
- Salvage - These are used parts taken from another vehicle
without alteration. Salvage parts may be the
only source for certain items, though their
reliability is seldom guaranteed.
a completed repair order describing the work
done. It should list each repair, parts supplied,
the cost of each part, labor charges, and the
vehicle's odometer reading when you brought
the vehicle in as well as when the repair order
was completed. Ask for all replaced parts. State
law may require this.
by the Federal Trade Commission, the National
Association of Attorneys General and the American