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Car Repair and Warranty Tips

What should I look for when choosing a repair shop for my car?

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other people you trust. Look for an auto repair shop before you need one to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision. If you buy your car used or preowned, ask the dealer where your car used to be serviced at the vehicle service maintenance history report. Many big dealership can pull out service history of cars that has been serviced in their place. Lexus has a very good service history online database. You can go to their web site and after registration and confirmation of ownership, you can pull out the service history. Don't make a mistake of buying a used car without asking this report or service receipt from the previous owner.
    • I learned this the hard way. The previous owner of my car seemed honest and said that he has done all the required service maintenance up to 120,000 miles. And he showed me the 120,000 mile maintenance receipt from a local Lexus dealer, but what he did not tell me was that his wife (its his wife car) refused to repair many recommended repair for wear and tear (cracked and old) parts that need to be replaced soon. I asked the dealer to quote me for the repair and came up with over $5000 estimate. Well, what at first seemed like a good deal on a used car became not a good deal. So I went to my friend auto repair shop and fixed it there and end up with $2000 invoice, which is not bad compared to the dealers's inflated charged.
  • Shop around by telephone for the best deal, and compare warranty policies on repairs. Go visit www.Auto-Extended-Warranty.com for detailed report and articles on how to find auto warranty and get your car fixed free. Learn the about secret warranty that is enforced by government.
  • Ask if the technician auto mechanics or auto service shop has experience working on the same make or model vehicle as yours. You don't want un-trained mechanics to work on the engine or moving parts of your car. There have been many auto accidents happened because of failure in the engine, brake, transmission and many other parts that was not fixed correctly. A work done by a certified auto service will preserve the warranty on your car.

Free Car Fact VIN Check - vehicle history report find out if a car is a lemon, which might explain the continuous problem you have on the car.

Car Repair Charges: Unlocking the Mystery

  1. Before you arrange to have any work performed, ask how the shop prices its work. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer's estimate of the time required to complete repairs. Others charge on the basis of the actual time the technician worked on the repair.
  2. If you need expensive or complicated repairs, or if you have questions about recommended work, consider getting a second opinion.
  3. Find out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work performed elsewhere. Many repair shops charge for diagnostic time.
  4. Shops that do only diagnostic work and do not sell parts or repairs may be able to give you an objective opinion about which repairs are necessary.
  5. If you decide to get the work done, ask for a written estimate.

What should a written estimate on car repair include?

  • It should identify the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the anticipated labor charge. Make sure you get a signed copy.
  • It should state that the shop will contact you for approval before they do any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money. State law may require this.

What do I need after the repair work is done?
  • Get a completed repair order describing the work done. It should list each car repair, parts supplied, the cost of each part, labor charges, and the vehicle's odometer reading when you brought the vehicle in as well as when the repair order was completed. The odometer reading is important to note as there have been many incidents where some irresponsible mechanics had been abusing cars by driving them at high speed and unnecessary for the car test. Luckily, a few of them was caught and fired. Ask for all replaced parts. State law may require this.

TIPS TO REMEMBER
Following these six tips may help you when your vehicle is in the shop:

NEVER LEAVE THE REPAIR FACILITY without a copy of the work orders. A complete record of the vehicle history is very important, especially with repeated problems. Although not absolutely necessary to prove your claim at a later date, copies of the records prevent the dealer from writing several repair visits as one, a common practice.

ASK ABOUT TSBs - TSB(Technical Service Bulletins) are instructions from the manufacturer that alert dealerships about defects or repairs in certain models. However, dealerships do not generally tell the customer about TSBs unless asked! So speak up. Ask the dealership to write your TSB request on the repair order even if told no TSBs exist for the concerns you are experiencing.

DEMAND RESPECT-You paid a lot for your vehicle...so don't be afraid to go over anyone's head if your vehicle isn't repaired properly. Part of the price of the car is the warranty service for which repairs are being made. You paid for it, you should get your moneys worth.

ARBITRATION- At present, the Federal Trade Commission has determined that no manufacturer has in place an "arbitration program" which complies with Federal minimum standards. What this means is that the FTC finds these programs to be unfair to consumers.

DON'T BE MISLED-In some situations, the dealership may claim that the consumer is causing the problem. This is a common tactic when the dealership cannot fix the problem or the manufacturer has no repair to correct the condition. Ask about the TSBs as stated above and stick to your guns. Your situation is not as unique as the dealership represents.

Read and understand the warranty BEFORE the sale/lease. Make sure you know exactly what is covered and for how long. Before taking delivery of your new vehicle, inspect it. If any problems are noticed, refuse delivery until they are corrected. Read, understand and follow maintenance requirements in the owner's manual. Keep records of all car maintenance to prove, if necessary, the defect was not caused by your abuse or negligence. If problems develop, contact the dealer as soon as possible. Keep a record of the date and nature of all repairs made to your car. Be sure to obtain a copy of the service order from the dealer stating exactly what repairs were made to your vehicle. Keep a record of all contacts made to the dealer or manufacturer. Keep copies of all letters and records of all telephone calls. This may later help prove what was said and may also avoid misunderstandings.

What Steps Should I Take?

1. When you buy your car, read your warranty and owner's manual carefully. Follow all maintenance guidelines.

2. When you notice a defect, take the vehicle to an authorized dealer for repairs as soon as possible. Prepare and leave a detailed list describing each defect each time you take the vehicle in for repair. Keep a copy for yourself.

3. Get repair orders for all warranty work. Ask for detailed repair orders and keep them.

4. Be sure the repair orders show how many days the vehicle was in the shop.

5. Keep a personal record of the number of days the vehicle is in the shop, dates, and mileage.

6. Keep a record of all related expenses, such as towing charges and rental car fees, and save all receipts.

7. After the third repair for the same defect or if the vehicle has been out of service for 15 business days, notify the manufacturer and the finance company in writing (if you have not done so already) and send the notification by certified mail, return receipt requested. Ask the manufacturer to have the car fixed. Send a copy to the dealer. You will probably find the address of the manufacturer in your warranty or owner's manual or you can get it from the dealer.

8. Keep copies of all correspondence.

9. Do not return the car or stop making payments. Talk to an attorney if you are at this point.

What About Arbitration?

Many auto manufacturers have established dispute resolution programs for customers with warranty problems. Some require you to use these programs before you go to court. Some do not. Read your warranty to see if the manufacturer has established a "dispute resolution" program and if you must use it before going to court. Ford and Chrysler operate their own programs. As of October 1, 1992, the following manufacturers participate in an arbitration program run by the Better Business Bureau: Acura, Audi, General Motors (all divisions), Honda, Infiniti, Isuzu, Nissan, Saab/Scania, Saturn, Sterling, and Volkswagen. If your warranty requires you to use the dispute resolution program, follow the instructions in the warranty to start the procedure. If your warranty does not require dispute resolution, decide if you want to try it.

Seeing a Lawyer

If arbitration fails, or if you did not have to use arbitration and did not want to, you should consider seeing a private attorney. Many people are reluctant to do this, but we encourage it. Some manufacturers, unfortunately, do not take consumer complaints too seriously until they hear from an attorney. Your attorney can advise you best what to do with the car and whether to stop making payments.

The lemon law provides that you can recover triple damages and attorney's fees if the manufacturer is found to have unreasonably refused to resolve your complaint.

You are, of course, welcome to contact the Consumer Protection Section of the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General's Office can provide you or your attorney with useful information, or we can try to mediate your complaint. However, it cannot act as private counsel to particular individuals. The Attorney General is interested in receiving information from individuals regarding how manufacturers handle these matters because the Attorney General can sue to enforce the lemon law when the public interest requires it.

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