A little research can be valuable when it comes to vehicle repairs
A car is one of the biggest purchases made in a lifetime, so taking good care of it should be a priority. Many people don't get the regular maintenance needed to keep their vehicle in prime condition, and sometimes it's due to fear of high costs and faulty repairs.
I recently received a response to a column regarding car repair, and the reader was concerned with extremely high charges for labor. He wanted to know if there were any regulations on auto repair labor costs. There are no laws or statutes that put a cap on labor prices, but there are many steps you can take to make sure you're getting the most for those prices.
The following are tips from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on how to make sure you choose the right automobile professional for you.
As the agency says, "Your mechanic is your car's doctor, and your car requires the highest quality care to have a long and happy life."
Before you need repairs:
• Read your owner's manual. You should familiarize yourself with the suggested maintenance plan and follow it.
• Start shopping for a repair shop before you need one. If you don't, you could end up somewhere you don't want to be because you had to decide quickly and under pressure.
• Be aware that the cheapest auto repair is not always the least expensive. It's no bargain if your vehicle isn't repaired properly; it will cost you more in the long run.
• Check with your local consumer organization, the Better Business Bureau or call the Division of Consumer Services toll-free at 1-800-435-7352 to find out about the shop's reputation.
What to look for in a repair facility:
• Look for a neat, well organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own.
• Expect a courteous, helpful and knowledgeable staff.
• Look for evidence of qualified technicians, such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work and ASE certification, which are a national standard of technician competence.
• Start with small repairs once you choose a shop. This way if you aren't satisfied you haven't spent too much money and your car won't be severely affected.
• All policies should be posted or explained to your satisfaction.
• Be sure that the facility you choose has the knowledge and equipment that the vehicle's manufacturer recommends.
• If you are unsure you need a repair, get a second opinion.
After the repairs:
• Be sure to keep good records. Keep everything from estimates to receipts.
• Reward good service with repeat business.
• If the service was not all you expected, don't rush to another shop. Discuss the problem and give the business a chance to resolve it. Reputable shops value customer feedback and will make a sincere effort to keep your business.
Check Wednesday's column for vehicle repair laws and regulations that are in place to protect you.