Diversified Automotive Media
automotive event coverage, special automotive media assignments and more!
Auto Repair Basics – What You Need To Know First!
Written by Phil White - Posted October 15, 2019
When your vehicle experiences a breakdown, it may become a panic situation due to the fact you have to find a reputable auto repair shop fast.
Finding a reputable auto repair shop can be a challenge, but this article will help guide you through the process of this trying ordeal.
Before deciding on which auto repair shop or facility you should take your vehicle to, you should ask for recommendations from family, friends and
other people that you trust. Look for an auto repair shop before you need one to avoid being rushed into a tough last-minute decision that could
cost you a small fortune, or worst, a failed or dangerous repair on your vehicle. Your vehicle has to be repaired correctly with the correct quality
parts to ensure you and your family will be safe on the road.
You should always shop around via telephone for the best auto repair prices which will include the best replacement part pricing too. Always
compare warranty policies on the various repairs. Don’t always depend on advertised repair specials; they may end up costing you more in the long
You should always ask to see the repair shop’s current licenses if state or local law requires the auto repair shop to be licensed or registered, which
in most cases they do. Also, your state Attorney General’s office or local consumer protection agency may know whether there’s a record of
complaints in regards to a particular auto repair shop or facility that you may be considering having your vehicle repaired at.
Make sure the repair shop will honor your vehicle’s warranty if still under warranty or has an extended warranty. Many times people pay for a
repair that was actually may be covered under some sort of warranty, be it a factory, emissions or other type of warranty. This may save you
thousands of dollars.
Make sure the auto repair technician is qualified to work on your particular vehicle. Look for a repair facility that displays various certifications. For
example, Automotive Service Excellence Seal (ASE) certification indicates that some or all of the automotive technicians meet basic standards of
knowledge and competence in specific technical automotive repair areas. Also ask if the technician has had factory training in regards to your
particular make and model, this is very important for a quality and timely repair. Make sure the technician’s certifications are current, but
remember that certification alone does not guarantee the quality of a repair or an honest repair shop.
Before you arrange to have any repair work performed on your vehicle, ask about the repair and replacement part(s) pricing policies, this will
hopefully prevent any surprises when you return to the repair shop to pick up your vehicle. Some repair facilities charge a flat rate for labor. This
published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer’s estimate of the time required to complete a particular type of repair. Other repair
shops charge on the basis of the actual time the technician worked on the repair, this may become rather expensive at times, especially if the
repair technician does not have the required experience to work on your make and model.
If your vehicle requires an expensive or complicated repair, or if you have questions about a recommended repair, consider getting a second
opinion from another repair shop.
Always ask if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work done elsewhere. Many repair shops charge for diagnostic time which
in many cases could be a minimum of one or two hours of labor time.
Repair shops that do only diagnostic work and do not sell service or parts may be able to give you an objective opinion about which repairs are
actually necessary for your vehicle. Sometimes this is a better way to go.
If you decide to get the work done, always ask for a written estimate. In some state this may be the law.
A written estimate should always identify the problem that needs to be repaired, the actual part(s) that will be needed for the particular repair, and
the anticipated labor charge. Make sure you get a signed copy of the repair order. It should state that the repair shop will contact you for approval
before they do any kind of repair work that would exceed a specified amount of labor time or money that was agreed on. State law may require
Also consider which replacement parts that the repair shop will be using to repair your vehicle. In most cases the facility will use new parts. These
parts generally are made to original manufacturer’s specifications, either by the vehicle manufacturer or an independent parts company. Your state
may require the repair facility to tell you if non-original replacement part will be used in the repair of your vehicle. Prices and quality of these parts
Replacement parts that are labeled rebuilt; remanufactured or reconditioned. These terms generally mean the same thing; parts have been
restored to a factory standards or quality.
Salvage parts. These are used parts taken from another vehicle without alteration. Salvage parts may be the only source for certain parts, though
their reliability is seldom guaranteed and the buyer takes all the risk. This may be an expensive way to repair your vehicle due to the fact that a
salvage part may be no good, and the same repair will need to be performed again with a new or remanufactured part.
Tip: Many part manufacturers offer a warranty covering replacement parts, but not the labor to install a failed replacement part. The
repair labor cost may be at the repair shop’s discretion. Ask first and prevent financial surprises.
Always get a completed Repair Order (RO) that describes in detail about the work that was performed and which parts were replaced. It should list
each vehicle repair and each part that was replaced, plus the cost of each part, labor charges, and the vehicle’s odometer reading when you
brought the vehicle to the repair facility as well as the date when the repair order was completed. You should always ask for all the replaced parts.
Many states have laws in regards to having a repair facility return your old parts.
In regards to various vehicle warranties, there is no “standard warranty” on repairs. Make sure you understand what is covered under a particular
warranty and always get it in writing. Be aware that warranties may be subject to various limitations, which may include time, mileage, various
deductibles, repair shops that are authorized to perform certain warranty work or special procedures required to obtain reimbursement monies.
Check with your state or local consumer protection agency for information in regards your warranty rights.
How do I resolve an issue regarding billing, quality of a repair or warranty issue? Always document all transactions as well as your experiences with
actual dates, times, expenses, and the names of people you dealt with in regards to your vehicle repair. Talk to the repair shop manager or repair
shop’s owner first in regards to the issue at hand. If that approach doesn’t work, contact your Attorney General or local consumer protection
agency for help. These offices may have information on alternative dispute resolution programs in your community. Another option is to file a
claim in small claims court. You don’t need an attorney to do this and may be the way to go in many cases. Plus the repair shop may want to avoid
small claims court and resolve the issue without court or legal intervention.
Hopefully this article has shed some light in regards to the process of having your vehicle repaired. Do your research first in regards to automotive
repair options before you actually need them.