Shifting into Gear - Motor Vehicle Repair
According to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the median age for automobiles in the United States is 9.4 years, while trucks are slightly younger at 7.6 years. Even with vehicles that are well-maintained, the likelihood that repairs will become necessary increases dramatically as your car or truck ages. When repairs or service are required, it's important for consumers to have a certain level of confidence that the work will be done correctly and for a reasonable price.
- Start shopping for a repair shop before you actually need one. You will be more likely to make a better decision if you are not rushed or in a panic. When you do select a business, make sure they will honor your vehicle's warranty, if applicable. It's always a good idea to ask friends/ associates for their recommendations.
- Read your owner's manual. Become familiar with your vehicle and follow the manufacturer's suggested service schedule.
- Research whether or not the repair shop is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and if any complaints have been filed against the business. This can be done by utilizing our Business/Complaint Lookup, or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) and asking for the information from a member of our Consumer Assistance Center staff. If there are complaints on file, be sure to find out how they were resolved.
- If you are unsure that you actually need a specific repair, get a second opinion – particularly if the suggested repair is expensive and you didn't think the issue was problematic in the first place.
- Do not choose a motor vehicle repair shop just because they offer the least expensive repair. Saving a few dollars and not having your vehicle repaired properly may end up costing you more in the long run.
- Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area: civic and community service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau, AAA Approved Auto Repair status, customer service awards, etc. Look for evidence of qualified technicians, such as trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work, or Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications (a national standard of technician competence). Look for a neat, well-organized facility with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.
Once You've Selected a Motor Vehicle Repair Shop
- BEFORE you arrange to have any repairs made, ask how the shop prices are estimated. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor on repairs while others may charge for labor based on the type of work performed. If the repair work will cost more than $100, the repair shop MUST give you the option of:
- Requesting a written estimate;
- Being notified by the shop if the repair exceeds an amount you specify; or
- Not requiring a written estimate at all.
After Repairs Have Been Completed
- Check the repair invoice carefully. Make sure you understand the work that was performed and what you are paying for. Keep a copy of all work orders and receipts. Keep in mind, warranties for service and parts may be different - ask for any guarantees in writing. Make sure the repair invoice includes: date and odometer reading, description of work preformed, labor, parts and other merchandise costs, nature of parts (new, used, rebuilt, etc.), warranty (if applicable), and the registration number of the business (located on the certificate issued by FDACS) identifying their shop.
- Reward good service with repeat business. It is mutually beneficial to you and the shop owner to establish a quality relationship.
- If the service was not all you expected, don't rush to another shop. Give the business a chance to resolve the problem. Discuss the problem with the service manager, owner or president of the company. Reputable shops value customer feedback and will make a sincere effort to keep your business. If you still do not feel satisfied, a complaint may be filed by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).
Remember, we're here for you! The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates motor vehicle repair facilities in Florida. If you need additional information, visit our website at www.800helpfla.com or call our Consumer Assistance Center. They will answer your questions or direct you to the best resource for assistance. If you are calling within Florida simply dial 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), outside of Florida 850-410-3800, or en Español 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).