Repairs are one of the costs that come with car ownership, but it sure is confusing when you don’t speak the lingo. How do you make sure you’re being billed fairly? Here’s some advice for those who aren’t so mechanically inclined.
Check to see if your car is under warranty.
If it is, you’ll need to take it to the dealer or an authorized repair facility.
Find a good auto shop.
Ask coworkers, friends, and neighbors where they take their vehicles for repairs. Is the shop affiliated with AAA or does it have technicians certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)? Do you like the look of the place (clean, organized, etc.)?
Ask for a written estimate before the work starts.
It’s not uncommon for the actual bill to be 10-20% higher, or more if the mechanic finds that the problem is more complicated.
Ask for the mechanic to review your bill with you.
It might seem tedious, but it can save you money. Mistakes happen all of the time. Compare the charges with your estimate.
If you have a bad feeling about the work performed, dispute your bill carefully.
If you can’t find a resolution, ask for the old parts (should you need evidence) and take your dispute, in writing, through the chain of command. If necessary, you might turn to the Better Business Bureau or, as a last resort, legal action.