What do you do when your windshield wipers stop working, your left taillight burns out, or your brakes give out? Some people may be handy enough to tackle such problems themselves, but many depend on the services and handiwork of auto repair mechanics. While most auto repair businesses are honest and will stand behind their work, consumers need to be on the lookout for those that are trying to make a quick buck. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) advises consumers to do their research before choosing an auto repair service.
It’s important for consumers to be on the lookout for less than reputable garages overcharging on repairs, charging for labor that was never performed, and performing shoddy work. Nationwide in 2012, BBB received more than 14,000 complaints against auto repair mechanics.
“With the cost of major repairs these days, it’s important to find a mechanic you can trust.” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “From there, it’s still important to get estimates for parts and labor in writing before authorizing service.”
BBB recommends the following tips to help ensure success when seeking repairs for your vehicle:
Start with Trust. Research businesses at www.bbb.org – it’s fast and it’s free!
Get at least three referrals. If you are looking for a qualified mechanic, ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. Look for shops that display certification from organizations such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
Ask questions. Don't be embarrassed to seek clarification regarding technical terms and definitions. Also, don't rush the technician into making an on-the-spot diagnosis of the problem. Ask to be called after diagnostics have been completed to discuss a course of action and potential costs before any work begins.
Get everything in writing. Before authorizing repairs, get a written estimate for parts and labor. Tell the shop to get your permission before making any additional repairs. Ensure that you receive notification by having the service manager write a request on the bottom of the repair order. Provide phone numbers where the business can reach you.
Be clear on the details. Before you hand over the keys, be sure to understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees, and acceptable methods of payment. Also, ask when you can expect to have repairs completed.
Do a walk-through with your mechanic. When you pick up your vehicle, get an explanation of the work that was performed and make sure all guarantees are in writing. Ask the technician to point out any major new parts that were installed. Your repair bill should be itemized so if a problem occurs later, you can prove the item is covered by the guarantee.
For the latest consumer news and more tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org.