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Discovering a mechanical problem with your car can be stressful and getting it repaired can be overwhelming. That’s why we put together some helpful tips for consumers when choosing a reliable auto shop for their vehicle. Keep in mind, caring for your vehicle with preventative maintenance increases your vehicle’s performance and fuel efficiency; it can also help you avoid more extensive and more costly repairs down the road.

To find a good repair shop, our Office offers the following advice:

  • Ask family, friends and co-workers for recommendations.
  • Check if the shop provides a customer satisfaction policy.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau and local consumer organizations to check the shop’s reliability and performance, as well as any complaints that have been filed.

Get a written estimate for repairs and storage charges:

Before beginning any work, a repair shop must give you a written and signed estimate listing the specific repairs to be made. The estimate must include the specific parts, labor, and cost of the repairs, unless the charges are posted where they may readily be seen. The repair shop does not need to provide you with this written estimate if:

  • they are unable to diagnose the specific problem when the vehicle is delivered to the repair shop, and they obtain your authorization for needed repairs after determining the required work; or
  • you bring the vehicle to a repair shop before or after its usual business hours; or
  • the repair services are performed off the premises of the repair shop, at your request; or
  • you sign a written waiver prior to the repair work.

If your Massachusetts auto insurance covers the costs of repairing your vehicle, it must also cover “reasonable” costs for storage. Before you agree to the auto shop’s price for storage, check to see what your insurance company’s rate is.

Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if you suspect the mechanic is recommending unnecessary repairs.

If a mechanic discovers unexpected and costly defects while servicing your vehicle, get a second opinion from another mechanic if you are questioning the vehicle’s diagnosis. A mechanic cannot knowingly deceive you and tell you that:

  • Repairs to your vehicle are necessary when, in fact, they are not;
  • Repairs have been made to your vehicle when no such repairs have been made;
  • Your vehicle is in dangerous condition, or that continued use of the vehicle would be a danger to yourself, your vehicle or others, when your vehicle is actually in no such condition.

You have the right to retain old parts if you request them.

If the repair shop must return the old parts to the manufacturer or another entity under a warranty arrangement, you are allowed to inspect the parts before they are returned. You can also ask to inspect any new parts for your vehicle. Be sure that you do not receive a second-rate or used part if you are being charged for a new one or one from the original equipment manufacturer.

Ask about warranties provided by the auto repair shop.  According to Massachusetts state law, you have the right to have poor or inadequate work repaired at no charge.

Remember, when dealing with a mechanic or an auto repair shop, you have rights. Visit our website and the Division of Standard’s website for more information about auto repair shops.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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