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BBB complaints up 15 pct for auto repair

February 29, 2012 4:37:18 AM PST
When your vehicle needs repairs, you don't need a crash course in auto mechanics, but you should know how to find a reliable shop and mechanic.

The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) recommends a few key points to ensure your automobile gets fixed without a glitch.

While most auto repair shops are legitimate, there are always an unscrupulous few that end up taking thousands of unnecessary repair dollars from consumers. In the last 12 months, the Chicago BBB received more than 1,070 complaints against auto repair services, up 15-percent over the previous 12 month period; the BBB also fielded more than 38,180 inquiries in the last 12 months from consumers looking to find a reliable business in the industry.

"Whenever you take your car to the shop, never try to diagnose the problem yourself. Describe the symptoms and ensure the work cannot begin until you have a written estimate for the scope of work and given your okay," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. The BBB recommends considering the following when taking your car in for auto repair services:

Check your warranty. If you have a problem with your vehicle while it is still under warranty, follow the manufacturer's instructions which may require that repairs be made at an authorized dealership.

Ask around. Look for shops that display certification. For major work, such as brakes, transmission or engine repair, you will need to find a shop employing a specialist.

If you are looking for a qualified, independent shop, get a list of BBB Accredited Businesses that do the type of auto repair you need for free at www.bbb.org http://www.bbb.org/

Ask all the questions that you need. Don't be embarrassed to request thorough explanations. Make sure you are clear on their appraisal of the problem, suggested course of action and cost of work before you reach a decision.

Before authorizing repairs, get a written estimate for parts and labor. Tell the shop to get your permission before making additional repairs. Ensure you receive notification by having the service manager write a request on the bottom of the repair order. Give phone numbers where you can be reached and, before you leave, be sure to understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees, and acceptable methods of payment.

Get everything in writing. When you pick up your vehicle, get an explanation of all work completed and get all guarantees in writing. Ask for any major new parts that have been installed be pointed out to you. Your repair bill should be itemized so, if a problem occurs later, you can prove the item is covered by the guarantee. For more information about auto repair dealers, visit www.bbb.org


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