Auto Repair Fees

Do you ever feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when you’re vehicle breaks down and its been towed to a repair shop. You know the quote isn’t going to be pretty. The cost is as about as much as a new car and what do you do now?

It’s a blood-curdling, almost completely helpless feeling. Are you really going to spend the money to tow it somewhere else for the chance of getting a lower quote? And how much lower and may it actually be higher at another shop. Plus go through the hassle and lost time…or just agree to move forward where you’re at and suck it up.   

Check to see if your insurance covers any portion or all of the repairs but be prepared to know your deductible which you’ll be likely to pay. If you can afford to wait it may help to get a lower price by agreeing to a time that best fits the shop’s schedule.

Help your fellow peers out and leave your comments, strategies, and experiences below. 

Estimates

Make sure you get an ALL-IN price which means all the fees and taxes using new Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. The good news is these numbers are usually negotiable. The bad news is the quote is usually an estimate. Depending on the job, there can be unknowns and this is where research, trust, loyalty are paramount. 

Whether you have a firm quote or an estimate, avoid negotiating until you have their top line price using new OEM parts. You may bring up similar competitor offers if the repairs are comparable. Once the deal is done, apply discounts, redemptions or coupon codes.  

Research

When a choice exist, find a repair shop you trust and give them your loyalty as long as they reciprocate. The repair business can come with surprises and uncertainty and loyalty can get you favors and the benefit of the doubt in desperate times. 

There are many shops small and large, some specialize and others cover it all. Make sure the mechanics are qualified and certified to do the work needed. The company should be licensed and insured.

Ensure the repair shop is using new Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) parts specifically for your vehicle. They’re normally the most expensive but generally the highest quality and you can negotiate other options if you wish to reduce the costs. The other options are:  

  • New aftermarket parts are made by someone other than the manufacturer and may be just as good as OEM parts but less expensive. The risk here is that not all aftermarket parts are of good quality and you get what you pay for. 
  • Re-manufactured parts are OEM parts that have been rebuilt. Again, a lot of risk depending on the item, who rebuilt it, types of parts used in the rebuild, etc.
  • Used parts are usually lowest in cost and are purchased from a auto scrap yard. It’s a risk/reward decision but a good mechanic could advise on this option and normally this is an option only presented by the vehicle owner. 

Any lesser option than the one presented by the shop may void the warranty or reduce its duration. 

Add-ons

Ask for some add-ons for no additional charge such as changing the oil, adding washer fluid, a new set of windshield wipers, detail, wash, tire rotation, longer warranty, etc. All they can say is “no“. 

There may be some other nuisances on your vehicle that you’ve been putting off. Since the vehicle is already at the shop you may be able to get these fixed at a small cost. Try to make the overall situation better than it was before.

Replaced Parts

As part of the final negotiation, and this is standard practice and required (with some terms) in most cases and depending on the item, ask for the parts that were replaced. These parts could be earn a few bucks as scrap or resale on a marketplace even if they are poor or not performing. 

This also helps keep the repair shop honest. You could take the replaced parts to be evaluated by another expert to determine if they were in fact defective.

Extra Fees

There is no shortage of fees in some of these cases. When you get a quote there should be an itemized breakdown of all the costs and additional fees, all of which are negotiable. Examples are: 

1) Environmental Fees – good luck.

2) Disposal Fees – is it possible you can dispose of the item(s) yourself if non-hazardous?

3) Hazardous Waste Fee – probably best to let the shop handle this but the cost may be negotiable.

4) Taxes – reducing the cost of the repair reduces the amount of taxes – double impact.

5) Expediting Fee – if you’re in a rush this can come at a premium.

Extra Fees

Filing a Complaint

Complaints

Most states have an agency or bureau that accept complaints and help negotiate rework, refunds, and adjustments on behalf of consumers. Search by your “state” and “automotive repair complaints” and you should find the process after a few clicks. If you’re unsure you can contact us to help identify it for you. 

When you have a problem the first steps is to:

  • Talk to the shop manager about it right away.
  • As with any complaint be respectful and calm. 
  • Explain the problem accurately.
  • If applicable, ask the mechanic to take the vehicle on a test drive with you.
  • Provide facts, dates, invoices, lost time, consequential and inconsequential damages or other evidence.
  • Ask for their proposal to make it right and maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised to get more than you planned. If it falls short, be prepared to state what you’ll accept.

Often times a problem isn’t black and white and both sides may have to concede to get a settlement. If the shop damaged your car and you can prove it then you certainly should have recourse for compensation.

If you’re still unhappy with the settlement and have not agreed to one, then elevate to the corporate office (if it exist), the State agency, and/or the Better Business Bureau.  These are viable options but none guarantee a particular outcome. 

Social Media gets attention

Don’t forget about the power of Twitter, Facebook, and the host of others media platforms. These are simple yet effective forums that surely have the attention of someone at these companies looking to deflect anything that can portay a negative reputation. 

Ultimately you can sue the shop but that’s usually a risk or much more money and time. The link below summarize the a few paths to issue complaints related to vehicles.

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