The BBB suggests that when having your car serviced by any company to request a written estimate. The repair bill should list the charges for parts and labor separately. You have a right to inspect all replaced parts, and any auto repair facility must offer to return all replaced parts except those under warranty, trade-in or core parts.
If you think your car may soon need service or repair, avoid an unexpected breakdown and shop around now for a reliable shop and a qualified mechanic for your car.
If your car needs service, first check the owner's manual to see what must be done to the car to maintain the warranty and keep the car running well.
If your car is still under warranty, you may be required to bring it to an authorized franchised dealership. If repaired elsewhere, it could void the warranty. If your car is no longer under warranty and you're looking for a qualified repair shop, ask friends and family for recommendations; and check with your local BBB about the shop's reliability. Look for shops that have mechanics certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
If major repairs are required, such as brakes or transmission, you may want to find a dealer or repair shop specializing in the type of repair needed. If you are in doubt about what the problem is, let the shop diagnosis the problem. You may cost yourself money by requesting a specific repair, which may not in fact solve the problem. Nevertheless, be as specific and accurate as possible in describing the problem. Insist that your car be road tested before repairs begin.
Be sure to get an estimate for parts and labor. Make sure the service advisor notes on the repair order form to have the shop call you with an estimate of repair costs before any work is done. Some shops require owner authorization of repairs and/or notification if the job exceeds the estimate, and the return of any replaced parts.
When you pick up your car, ask the service manager to explain all work completed and all replacements made. If you don't understand, ask follow-up questions until you do. Also, ask that any major new parts that have been installed be pointed out to you, if possible. If the shop guarantees its work, get the guarantee in writing. Be sure that your bill itemizes the repairs so if a problem occurs later, you can prove that the item in question is covered by the guarantee.