|CARL’S CORNER – AUTO REPAIR HELP|
TIPS FOR AT THE MECHANIC’S SHOP
The follow information is offered to keep you savvy when it comes to communicating with your mechanic. Also, there is advice on what to do if you should run into a problem or have some sort of dispute with a garage.
FOR AVOIDING SERVICE PROBLEMS
Consider paying the bill with a credit card. If there is a problem, you may withhold payment on the disputed portion of your bill until the problem is resolved (by way of the federal Fair Credit Billing Act).
Find shops that adhere to a certain standard of service. For example, AAA approved garages must have ASE certified mechanics, up to date equipment, and must not have any complaints filed about their operations. Additionally, if you do have a problem with the work done, you’ll have some recourse in that you’ll be able to contact the local AAA office and complain in order to get your problem resolved. Along these lines, you may want to check with your local Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against a shop you are considering.
Avoid shops that still charge for automotive diagnostic time even when you authorize them to do the necessary auto repairs. Most shops will charge you for diagnostic time if you decide to take your vehicle elsewhere for auto repairs. This is reasonable. However, if you can find a shop that will do a free diagnostic evaluation, all the better. Otherwise, when first approaching the mechanic, ask him if the diagnostic charge will be applied to the auto repair costs. If he says no, find another garage.
Do all you can to understand the nature of the auto problem before you approach the garage. Gather information about the car problem with, say, someone who is known to be fairly knowledgeable about car repair (e.g. a friend or neighbor). The better you understand what is causing the problem you’re having, the more likely you’ll be able to get a fair repair job.
Always get more than one estimate, especially on big repair items. Never take the first bid for a job since you’ll usually be able to find a better price once you start shopping around.
Always have the mechanic list the symptoms of the problem on the estimate. This way, if the problem is not fixed when you pick your vehicle up, the mechanic won’t be able to dispute what it was you took your vehicle in for to begin with.
Make sure you always tell the mechanic to call you and get your approval if the repair cost will exceed the estimate. This way there will be no surprises when you pick your vehicle up after it has been repaired.
Last but not least, keep your vehicle in top shape so as to minimize your visits to repair facilities. Refer to the Avoiding Breakdowns topic for tips along these lines.
CAN YOU DO IF THERE IS A SERVICE OR REPAIR PROBLEM?
1. Try to settle the matter with the shop
2. Seek third-party help
3. Sue in small-claims court