If you need to take your car into the shop for repairs, read the following tips to find a reputable repair shop and learn your rights under the law. North Carolina’s Motor Vehicle Repair Act protects consumers when auto repairs cost more than $350. Here’s how the law works:
- The repair shop should give you a written estimate and ask you to sign an authorization for the repair. When you authorize the repair, you have the right to request that you get back or examine any of your car’s old parts.
- The repair shop must notify you of any storage charges you’ll owe if you don’t pick up the car once the repair is completed. The repair shop may not exceed the cost you authorized by more than 10 percent without first getting your permission.
- If the problem is unknown, the repair shop must tell you how much it will cost to diagnose the problem. Once they’ve diagnosed the problem, the shop must contact you with an estimate and to get authorization to do the work.
- The repair shop must provide you with a detailed invoice that itemizes charges for labor and parts and identifies all parts as new, used, or reconditioned. Keep in mind that repair shops have flexibility in marking up the charge for parts and that you must pay for authorized repairs even if they do not solve the problem. The Motor Vehicle Repair Act does not apply to agricultural equipment and vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
- Ask friends and neighbors, particularly those who drive cars like yours, to recommend a good mechanic. Beware of any shop that asks for payment in advance and always ask about warranty terms before you agree to any repairs.
- Check to see that mechanics are ASE (National Institute for Automotive Excellence) certified and that a sign is posted explaining your rights under the North Carolina law. Confirm the cost of the mechanic’s examination of the vehicle, preferably in writing, before permitting the mechanic to examine it.
Even if your repair is not covered by the Motor Vehicle Repair Act, you are still protected by the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If you have a complaint about auto repairs, call (within North Carolina) 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
Source: NC Attorney General