Repair rip-offs

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Updated: 3/28/2003 1:53 pm
To find a good repair shop, ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Word of mouth is a good way of getting to know who's reliable and who charges what amount. Auto clubs are another good source for finding repair shops. Call the auto clubs in your area for more information. Also be sure to check your auto shop's reputation. A quick call to the Consumer Complaint Division of your attorney general's office or the Better Business Bureau should tell you if the shop you've chosen is a good one. Often it's best to deal with a specialist--someone trained to work on your specific type of vehicle, or your specific type of problem. Call various places, compare prices, and ask questions. Get to know your mechanic. Establish rapport regarding your car and exactly what it needs. When talking to your mechanic, be sure to describe in your own words what your car has been doing. Don't diagnose--let the experts do that for you. If you diagnose, you may get a repair job on something that wasn't even a problem in the first place. And never sign a repair order until you know exactly what your mechanic plans to do or to check. Also ask for all the old parts up front and get a written estimate of repairs. If you aren't satisfied with your service and have been unable to get your repair shop to correct what's wrong, contact the company manager or president. As a last resort, you may want to consider legal action. But don't always expect perfection. Even the very best auto mechanics sometimes make mistakes.

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