When you have found a great auto repair shop to work with, be sure to follow good business practices, especially when you first visit.
Communication is important
You can get your car fixed by communicating your points clearly. This will help you avoid costly repairs. If they are able to identify the problem, even mediocre mechanics can repair most cars.
You must distinguish between what you actually know and what your brain thinks you know. Tell the shop if you have an idea. If you are unsure, tell the shop. The shop might check the water pump or replace it if you mention a specific repair. If that happens, they may then fix the problem (possibly worn alternator bearings).
Describe the symptoms. Note any changes in the car’s sound and drive since the problem began. Please describe the problem and the time it has been occurring. Ask the shop for help if the problem is difficult to explain.
It is important to write it down. Write down the problems that you are trying to fix or check.
Visit the shop when it’s less crowded. Visit the shop between mid-morning & mid-afternoon to get more attention. This is when it is usually quieter.
Talk to the auto mechanic who will work with your car. Many mechanics who work at large shops and dealerships don’t know much about car repairs. Talking directly with the technician who will work on your car can increase the chances of getting good work.
Request a written estimate and work order
The shop should send you a work order detailing the work that has been authorized and the cost.
Ask for a quote if you are certain of what repairs will be required. The shop can also provide a description of the work and a price.
Write on the work order, “Shop will provide the customer with a written estimate.” The estimated fee will be $____. After the estimate, no additional charges will be made without authorization from the customer.
Add this to the bottom of your work order: “Keep replacement parts for customer inspection.” Even if it’s difficult to tell an alternator from its tailpipe, the shop won’t know and can’t guarantee that you won’t give the parts to someone who knows.
If you are not covered by a warranty for all work, do not bother to create an estimate or a detailed work order. Instead, write “Only warranty repairs can be authorized” on your work order.
Ask your shop to look at a problem and give them a call. Don’t assume that the shop will approve major car repairs at any price. You can still take your car to another shop for repairs if necessary, but not before the problem becomes too severe to drive.
Grab It Right Now
You should receive an invoice from the auto body shop, including its address and name, as well as your name and vehicle’s license number. The invoice should include the labor cost, name, number and price for each part that was replaced, as well as whether it is new or rebuilt.
Keep your invoice. You might need your invoice to prove that you paid if you are unhappy with the repairs.
The shop’s warranty should be clearly indicated on the invoice. If it is not, add it, for both labor and parts.
You should immediately return the vehicle if you discover that it was not properly fixed. It is best to ask the service writer for a signed, dated acknowledgement to be added to your invoice copy. You can also send an email to the shop describing the problem and your intent to return the car for it to be fixed. Don’t rely on the service representative’s promise to fix the problem for free if you don’t want to wait. It is possible that the service writer forgets the promise and thinks the problem is new.
You and your auto repair and body shop might still disagree despite all your efforts. There are several options for recourse if this happens.
First, speak to the owner or the service manager. If you are not getting results, you may complain to government consumer agencies or the Better Business Bureau.
If you paid with a credit card and the shop refused to fix the problem, you can dispute the charges with your creditor company. You have strong protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act as well as policies from credit card companies that will allow you to receive refunds for any unsatisfactory purchase.
If none of the above efforts is satisfactory, you can go to small claims court.
Most states have laws that protect consumers from being exploited by auto repair shops. These rights may not be available in your state, but reputable shops will have policies to protect you.
Cost estimates: Auto shops must provide written estimates if asked by most states. The estimate may be charged by the shop at a reasonable cost.
Shops cannot charge more than 10% above the estimate in many states unless the customer has authorized this by phone or in writing. Customers have the right to return their vehicle in its original condition if a shop claims that costs are higher than estimated.
Time estimates: Shops are required to give a time estimate in many states under the same conditions as cost estimates. Except for circumstances beyond their control, shops cannot exceed their time estimates.
Returned Parts: If requested in advance, most states require shops they return any replaced parts. Except for parts that are required to be returned to the manufacturer under a warranty agreement, customers can inspect the parts covered by the warranty.
Invoices: Shops must issue a written invoice for repairs that cost $20 or more in most states. Invoices must include labor and parts charges. They must also indicate if the parts were new or rebuilt. Different jurisdictions may require different invoice details.
Contact Miller Brothers Transmission Auto Repair and Body Shop now if you’re looking for reliable auto services.
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