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Helminc.com eNewsletter Archive > 2005-2004 eNewsletters > Featured Articles > Part 2 of 4

Taking the Scare Out of Auto Repair

Part 2 of 4
- Ignoring maintenance can lead to trouble

Preventive Maintenance
What are the consequences of postponing maintenance?

  • Many parts on your vehicle are interrelated. Ignoring maintenance can lead to trouble: specific parts - or an entire system - can fail. Neglecting even simple routine maintenance, such as changing the oil or checking the coolant, can lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability, or costly breakdowns. It also may invalidate your warranty.
What maintenance guidelines should I follow to avoid costly repairs?
  • Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for your type of driving.
  • Some repair shops create their own maintenance schedules, which call for more frequent servicing than the manufacturer's recommendations. Compare shop maintenance schedules with those recommended in your owner's manual. Ask the repair shop to explain - and make sure you understand - why it recommends service beyond the recommended schedule.
Protecting Your Auto Repair Investment
What warranties and service contracts apply to vehicle repairs?
  • There is no "standard warranty" on repairs. Make sure you understand what is covered under your warranty and get it in writing.
  • Be aware that warranties may be subject to limitations, including time, mileage, deductibles, businesses authorized to perform warranty work or special procedures required to obtain reimbursement.
  • Check with the Federal Trade Commission or your state or local consumer protection agency for information about your warranty rights.
Service Contracts
  • Many vehicle dealers and others sell optional contracts - service contracts -issued by vehicle manufacturers or independent companies. Not all service contracts are the same; prices vary and usually are negotiable. To help decide whether to purchase a service contract, consider:
    • Its cost.
    • The repairs to be covered.
    • Whether coverage overlaps coverage provided by any other warranty.
    • The deductible.
    • Where the repairs are to be performed.
    • Procedures required to file a claim, such as prior authorization for specific repairs or meeting required vehicle maintenance schedules.
    • Whether repair costs are paid directly by the company to the repair shop or whether you will have to pay first and get reimbursed.
    • The reputation of the service contract company. Check it out with your state Attorney General's office or local consumer protection agency.
How do I resolve a dispute regarding billing, quality of repairs or warranties?
  • Document all transactions as well as your experiences with dates, times, expenses, and the names of people you dealt with.
  • Talk to the shop manager or owner first. If that doesn't work, contact your Attorney General or local consumer protection agency for help. These offices may have information on alternative dispute resolution programs in your community. Another option is to file a claim in small claims court. You don't need an attorney to do this.

Presented by the Federal Trade Commission, the National Association of Attorneys General and the American Automobile Association


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