Auto Repair Guide

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), knowing about the following information could help you keep a lid on bad repairs and mechanical errors.

One of the best ways to avoid car repair rip-offs is to be fully prepared. This should include knowing how your car works, and how to identify the most common of car problems. It is also essential to know how to choose a reliable and experienced mechanic, what type of questions you should ask, and all about your consumer protection rights. One of the very best ways is... ask for recommendations from work mates, friends, family, and other people you that you trust. Also, you should locate a reputable auto repair shop before you actually need one to avoid being thrown into a panic at the very last minute.

What should a written estimate include?

Auto repair shops that only perform diagnostic work (and do not stock and sell parts or repairs) can give you an honest and objective opinion about which car repairs are truly necessary. If you do decide to go ahead and get the work done, always insist on a written estimate and guarantee. An estimate should identify the exact repairs to be done, the required labor and the parts needed. Make certain you get an authorized signed copy.

It should state that the auto repair shop will make contact with you for approval before any repair work is carried out which exceeds a specified dollar amount. This of course, should include the time and money. Many States have a law in place which requires this.

What you need once the work is done

When the repairs to your car are done ask for a completed repair order that clearly describes the work that has been completed. Make sure that it lists each repair, parts (if needed), the cost of each part, the labor charges, and the cars odometer reading when you brought your car to the repair shop as well as when the actual repair order was made out.

You should ask for all replaced parts. This is a good idea because State law may require this after the repair has been completed. You should follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule found in your car owner's manual to match your type of driving. Some repair shops will create their own vehicle maintenance schedules. However, you may find that it calls for more frequent servicing than the actual manufacturer's recommendations.

Auto repair investment and protection

Compare the shops maintenance schedules with those recommended in your car owner's manual. Inquire as to why the repair shop says vehicle servicing beyond the manufacturer's recommended schedule.

You should know what warranties and service contracts apply to car repairs. There is no real "standard warranty" on automotive repairs.

Make certain you fully comprehend what is actually covered under your warranty and always ask for it in writing. Be aware that vehicle warranties could be subject to a variety of limitations. Some of these limitations are: time, mileage, deductibles, businesses which are authorized to perform warranty work and/or specific procedures needed to obtain reimbursement. Check with the Federal Trade Commission or your state and/or local consumer protection agencies for important information about automobile warranty rights.

How to resolve a dispute about the quality of repairs or billing

Always put in writing information about all transactions including your experiences with... times, dates, billing expenses, and the names of anyone you had dealings with. However, you should talk to the shop owner or manager first. If that doesn't bring satisfactory results, contact your Attorney General or local consumer protection agencies for assistance. State and local offices should supply information on alternative dispute resolution and other avenues at your disposal. Another thing available to you is to file a legal claim in small claims court. There is no need for a lawyer to do this.

Car troubles don't always mean major repairs

Here are a few common causes of car trouble and simple techniques to help you and your mechanic find and fix those problems. (1) Alternator. Broken or loose wiring can make your car alternator appear defective. A mechanic can check for any loose connections and perform an electrical output test before going to the trouble of replacing your alternator. (2) Battery. Oftentimes, corroded or loose battery terminals can make your car battery appear completely dead or defective. A mechanic can clean the terminals and test battery function for you before replacing your car battery. (3) Starter motor. A started motor could appear to be defective but in actual fact it may simply be only a dead battery and/or loose and poor connections. A mechanic can check all of the connections and perform a simple electrical test on the battery before going to the trouble of repairing your car starter motor. (4) Muffler. Many times a loud rumbling noise coming directly from under your car may simply be a worn out muffler or broken exhaust pipe. If this is the case a local auto repair shop can install a new muffler or exhaust pipe in a relatively short time. (5) Tuneup. These days the old-fashioned "tuneup" is a thing of the past because most modern cars are kept in tune by the car's onboard computer system. (6) Parts. Today fewer automotive parts, other than automotive belts, car spark plugs, hoses and air filters, require replacing. But it makes good sense to follow the recommendations in your car owner's manual. Find better performance from cold air intake.