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Where to take your car for repairs

No one mechanic or shop is the best solution for all vehicle repairs. Obviously, there are people who do body work verses ones who fix that weird sound your car makes on the highway. Warranty-related work is best handled by the dealership, but an oil change does not need to be. Sometimes you even find a good local mechanic or a neighbor that works on cars.

The general goal is to get the work done in a timely fashion, for a reasonable price and, of course, in a way that effectively resolves the problem. The issue may dictate where it goes, but here are general guidelines for the three main groups of mechanics.

Car dealerships: These mechanics know the newer cars inside and out and can help you work out new car kinks. However they tend to be expensive, and they may not touch older cars even if they sell the brand.

Repair shops: The labor is generally less expensive and they can use off-brand parts for older cars. However, finding one that is honest, reliable and skilled can take time. Good ones will even tell you if the work is unnecessary or they are not the right people for the job.

Auto repair chains: The fast food of car repair, these outfits tend to focus on tune-ups, brakes, mufflers, radiator replacement or glass replacement. They are inexpensive, but the mechanics are best for straightforward routine maintenance.

The state regulates repair shops

The California Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR) recommends that owners choose a shop registered with them, and use their resources to see if any disciplinary action was taken against the shop. It is important to remember that mechanics cannot force you to do repairs - get a second opinion if you or the mechanic is unsure. It is also smart to check if repairs void warranties.

The Automotive Repair Act

Auto repair shops are required by law to post a notice of the customers' rights defined by the Automotive Repair Act. They are entitled to:

  • A written estimate for repair work.
  • A detailed invoice of work done and parts supplied.
  • Return replaced parts, if requested at the time a work order is placed.

An attorney may need to step in

Motor vehicle repair is like any other service. There are legal guidelines involving the consumer's rights here in California. An attorney may need to advise the car owner on their rights in regards to specific circumstances surrounding such customer disputes as overcharges, unnecessary work or other harm. If they feel unfairly treated, the vehicle owner may deem it necessary to seek compensation with help from an experienced attorney.

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