Avoiding Auto Repair Despair

July 24, 2017

The cost of owning a car does not end after the purchase. Whether you need to schedule an oil change or have repairs to deal with, it’s important to use a mechanic or auto shop who is worthy of your trust. In 2016, BBB received over 8,500 complaints on auto repair shops. Customer service issues was the largest complaint received with 2,785 complainants and 1,884 complaints had repair issues. BBB urges consumers to do their homework before choosing a mechanic for vehicle repairs and maintenance.  

“Vehicle repair requires in depth knowledge and skill, and unfortunately, there are some shops who will try to make a quick buck off of someone’s lack of expertise,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “That’s why it’s important to do research before choosing a company to work with.”

BBB offers the following tips to help you find the right shop and ensure a smooth experience:

  • Do your research. Ask friends and family for mechanics they trust. Check bbb.org for a mechanic’s Business Profile to read customer reviews and any complaints. Look for certifications like an Automotive Service Excellence seal indicating the technicians have met basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas.

  • Have a professional diagnose the problem. Describe the problems you are experiencing, with as much detail as possible, but have the auto body shop do a diagnostic to determine what should be done.

  • Maintain your car properly. Read your vehicle's manual for suggested routine maintenance to keep it humming along and reduce the need for repairs. Pay close attention to any changes in how your car performs, any lit dashboard signals and unusual smoke or odors.

  • Get everything in writing. Be sure to get a detailed estimate including repairs, labor, parts and expected time to complete the repairs before signing to have the work done. If the shop guarantees its work make sure to get it in writing including what it will cover, how long parts are covered, if the guarantee is adjusted for time and mileage, and whether the guarantee will transfer to a new owner if you sell the car and any exclusions.

  • Understand your warranty. If you are getting work done while the car is still under warranty, check to see if there are guidelines you must follow and if you must take the car to a specific location. If in doubt, ask questions at the dealership where you bought your car.

  • Pay attention when you pick up your car. When you pick up your car, get a complete and detailed written summary describing everything the mechanic did. Ask the service manager to go over it with you and explain all the work completed including major parts that might have been replaced. Be sure that your bill itemizes the repairs so if a problem occurs later, you can show what was done.

  • Follow up with problems. If you continue to have problems with your car after the work is complete, take it back to the shop that performed the original repair. If issues continue, it will be easier to identify who is responsible for the repair.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.