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Educational Consumer Tips

Auto Repair and Services

Author: Better Business Bureau
Category: Auto

If you are a typical car owner, you may not be aware of all of the inner workings of your vehicle. However, the time will arise when repairs will become a necessity. It is very important you have the knowledge to acquire a reliable shop to complete the repairs and a qualified mechanic to undertake them as well. 

If you have a problem with your car while it's still under warranty, follow the manufacturer's requirements, which may include having repairs made at an authorized, franchised dealership, to keep your warranty in effect. If your car is no longer under warranty and you're looking for a qualified, independent repair shop, ask friends and family for recommendations; and check with your Better Business Bureau about the shop's reliability.

Look for shops that display certification - like an Automotive Service Excellence Seal. ASE certification indicates that some or all of the technicians have met basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certificates are recently obtained. Remember, however, that certification alone is not an absolute guarantee of good or honest work. If major repairs are required, you may want to find a dealer or repair shop specializing in the type of repair needed. You can also ask to see current licensing if state or local laws request the shop be licensed or registered. You can check with your local attorney general's office or local consumer protection agency to see if the shop has a record complaints as well. 

If you are in doubt about what the problem is, let the shop diagnose the problem. You may cost yourself money by requesting a specific repair that may not in fact solve the problem. Nevertheless, be as specific and accurate as possible in describing the problem. Always get an estimate for parts and labors. Make sure the estimates states that the shop will contact you for approval before performing any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money.

When you pick up your car, ask the service manager to explain all work completed and all replacements made. 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. For more information on auto repair, contact your local Better Business Bureau or visit the BBB central web site at

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