Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Auto Repair Fraud
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


Every consumer, at one time or another, will face the need to get their car fixed. Auto repair rip-offs consistently rank as one of the most common categories of consumer complaints throughout the nation. To avoid these pitfalls and still keep your car in working order, consider the following:

Find an auto repair shop before you need one.
This will avoid the pressure of a last minute choice. Ask friends, family members or co-workers to recommend repair shops they trust.

Be certain the repair shop honors any existing warranty on your car.
If not, you may be paying for parts or labor covered by your manufacturer's or extended warranty.

Be certain the shop is qualified to complete the necessary repair.
Ask if the shop has experience working on the same type of vehicle as yours and whether its mechanics have done this type of repair before. In Florida, each repair shop must register with the State of Florida. Ask to see the shop’s registration. Check to see if complaints have been filed against the shop.

If the repair exceeds $100, the shop MUST give a written estimate.
Be certain the estimate specifically identifies the condition to be repaired, the parts needed and the anticipated labor charge.

The repair shop must contact you before exceeding the estimate by $10 or 10 percent whichever is greater. Shop around for the best deal.
Compare the estimates of the shops.

After the work is completed, the repair shop must provide documentation of what was done.
You should be able to obtain a legible copy of the repair invoice showing the repair work done to correct the problem, an itemized description of parts and labor charges, as well as any guarantees. Review this document carefully. Ask questions if you do not understand anything contained in the estimate or repair invoice.

If you have complaints:
Contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA or visit their website at www.800helpfla.com.