Communication Is Important
Getting your point across clearly can help you get your vehicle fixed and avoid unnecessary repairs. When they understand what’s wrong, even the most mediocre mechanics can get the job done.
- Distinguish between what you know and what you think you know. If you know what needs to be fixed, let the shop know. However, if you aren’t sure, don’t just guess. Describe the symptoms. If you mention a specific repair, the shop will likely check it and replace it, and then continue to repair the actual problem.
- Describe symptoms. Take note of changes in how the car sounds, smells, and drives since the problem began. Let the shop know how long the issue has been present and when it happens, such as in hot or cold weather, when the engine is hot or cold, or at low or high speeds. If the issue is difficult to describe, ask the shop to have someone go on a drive with you.
- Write it down. Jot down a list of all symptoms or issues that you want to be checked or fixed and then leave it with the shop.
- Go to the shop when it isn’t as busy. If you visit the mechanic between mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you’ll get better attention, as these times are usually least hectic.
- Talk with the mechanic who will be working on your vehicle. Personnel writing up the tickets at dealerships and large shops usually don’t know much about vehicle repair. Discussing symptoms directly with the mechanic who will be working on your vehicle will increase your chances of getting good work.
Obtain a Written Estimate & Work Order
If you understand what repairs are necessary, ask for a price and have the shop write a description of the work and price on a work order.
If you aren’t sure what repairs are needed, write on the work order: “Shop will provide the customer with a written estimate. The charge for the estimate will be _____. No other charges will be incurred without the customer’s authorization following the estimate.”
Be sure to write at the bottom of the work order: “Keep replaced parts for customer’s inspection.” Even if you don’t know much about car repair, the shop doesn’t know that, and they can’t be certain that you won’t present the parts to someone who does.
If all the required work is covered under a warranty, don’t worry about an estimate or detailed work order. Just write “Only warranty repairs are authorized” on the work order.
Make Sure the Car is in Good Condition
Before paying the bill, the repair shop should provide you with an invoice that includes:
- Their name and address
- Your name, and
- Your car’s license number and mileage.
The invoice should also indicate:
- The charge for labor
- The name, number, and price of each part replaced, and
- Whether the parts are new or rebuilt.
Keep your invoice. If you find the repair unacceptable, you may need it to show that you paid for the work. Also, if another shop later attempts to charge you for a repair, you will be able to show that it is unnecessary.
The invoice should disclose the shop’s warranty. If it does not, make sure it is added.
If you believe your car was not properly repaired, take it back immediately. The best approach is to have the service writer put a signed and dated acknowledgment on your copy of the invoice that you made the shop aware of this problem.
Despite your safety measures, you and your repair shop may still disagree. When disagreements occur, you have some avenues for recourse.
Firstly, you should speak to a service manager or owner. If this doesn’t work, you can report the shop to government consumer agencies, manufacturers’ zone offices, and the Better Business Bureau.
If you paid by credit card, you can say you attempted to resolve the issue with the shop but it wouldn’t comply, and dispute the repair charges with your credit card company. The Fair Credit Billing Act and policies of the credit card companies offer you protection and can help you get refunds for unsatisfactory purchases.
In most states, there are laws that prevent customers from being taken advantage of by auto repair shops. Even if your state doesn’t have any laws offering these rights, reputable shops will have policies in place to cover similar concerns.
- Price Estimates. The majority of states require that auto repair shops provide a written cost estimate upon request. A shop often may charge an acceptable fee for an estimate.
- Costs Exceeding the Estimate. In most states, auto shops are not allowed to charge more than 10% above their estimate unless authorized by the customer. In certain states, if a shop claims their costs will be greater than 10% of its estimate, customers have a right to have their vehicle returned in its original condition, when applicable.
- Time Estimates. Most states require that auto shops offer a time estimate under similar conditions applying to cost estimates. A shop is not allowed to exceed its time estimate, except for conditions outside of its control.
- Return of Parts. Most states require that shops return replaced parts upon request. Parts that must be returned to a manufacturer under warranty are exempt, but customers have a right to inspect the parts covered under their warranty.
- Invoices. Most states mandate that shops provide a written invoice for any repair or costs of $20 or more. All invoices have to specify charges for parts and labor. All invoices must indicate which parts are new and which ones are rebuilt. Different jurisdictions require additional but varying invoice information.
Auto Repair Shops in California
Automobile Repair Shop San Diego is a family-owned and operated business that has been providing the best repair experiences. We will offer you hassle-free auto repairs starting with a precise damage assessment or estimate. We will tow your vehicle for FREE to our shop, organize for a rental car, and work directly with the insurance company to streamline the repair process. We will even pay up to $500 of your deductible. Contact us today to see how we can help you.