Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
CAR REPAIRS: THINGS TO KNOW
Most of us fear taking our car to the shop for repairs. We are afraid of the cost, but most of all we worry that we will be charged for repairs that are not necessary and do not fix the problem. One of the best things you can do is ask for recommendations from friends, family, co-workers and people who have cars that are similar to yours. Also, ask the mechanic if there is a charge for finding out what is wrong with your car- will there be charges if you decide not to go ahead with repairs? If you run into problems after the work is done, keep a record of who you talk with, what was said, and the date and time you talked. If you are not satisfied, consider going to mediation, suing in Small Claims Court, or contacting an attorney. You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Protection division of the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.
CAR REPAIR TIPS
Check to see if the shop's mechanics are approved. Several organizations certify mechanics. The Automotive Service Excellence seal is one certification that is well established. Mechanics usually display their certifications at their shop.
Find out how long the garage has been in business. Does it appear clean and well organized?
Determine how the shop prices its work. Some places have flat rates for different types of work. Others charge by the hour, plus parts.
Get a written estimate. The estimate should include the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the expected charge for labor. Make sure it is signed. Also, the estimate should include something saying that the shop will contact you before doing any work that will cost more than a certain amount.
Don't be afraid to get a second opinion, especially if you are uncertain about the cost or whether you really need the work.MORE TIPS . . . .
Ask what kind of parts the shop will use. Will the shop use new, rebuilt, or salvage parts? Ask that the shop keep your old parts and return them to you.
Make sure you understand any warranties and get them in writing. What would happen if the mechanic did not fix the problem?
What if you can't pay for the work? If not, the mechanic can hold your car and eventually sell it. If you reach an agreement to make payments, put it in writing and get it signed by the mechanic. Include in the agreement a statement that you will be allowed to drive the car while you make payments.