All About Autos
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In Missouri, state consumer laws prohibit unfair and deceptive practices in auto repair. Mechanics who mislead, deceive or make misrepresentations to consumers may be subject to penalties under the Merchandising Practices Act found in Chapter 407 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.
Good judgment, advance planning and a little caution can help you avoid many common auto repair difficulties.
Tips to follow when you have car repair problems
Research repair shops. Ask friends and neighbors if they know a reliable mechanic. Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check a shop's reputation, or call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline to see if there are any complaints about the shop.
Before you take your car to the shop, pay attention to your car's problem. Be specific in describing your car's symptoms and tell the mechanic about any past repairs for similar trouble.
Although you may not fully understand the technical terms, carefully listen to the mechanic's diagnosis. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something. Get a cost estimate in writing and instruct the mechanic to call for authorization before making repairs not listed on the original repair order.
If you believe the mechanic has recommended unnecessary work or you are dissatisfied with the estimate, get a second opinion. This is an especially good idea when your car needs major repairs.
Know the law
The state consumer protection laws are found in Chapter 407 of the Missouri Revised Statues.
If the mechanic recommends replacing certain parts, ask for the old parts. You may receive credit on some parts if the mechanic wants to keep them. It's a particularly good idea to keep the old parts if you are concerned that unnecessary work is being done. If you want the old parts returned, that information must be included on the repair order before the work begins.
Dealing with disputes over car repairs
Many disputes arise when consumers pick up their cars and see the service bills. How to avoid disputes:
- Make sure the repair order specifically lists the labor, parts and services performed. Be sure the repairs listed on the repair order cover all the problems you described.
- If the work is guaranteed, get all the warranty information in writing on the repair order or bill.
- If you do have a problem, such as the bill greatly exceeds the estimate or the repairs were made improperly, always go back to the original mechanic. Often, a dispute can be settled quickly and calmly.
- If the business refuses to correct the problem or answer your questions about the bill, legal action may be appropriate. Your options include contacting the Attorney General's Office, the Better Business Bureau and your own attorney.