10 Things Every Consumer Should Know About Auto Repair
When faced with the possibility of costly auto repair work, most consumers want to get the best deal for their money. It is equally important to know that the repair service is dependable. In Chicago, consumers have certain rights when it comes to working with an auto repair shop outlined in the Chicago Municipal Code. Chapter 4-228.
Consumers are entitled to the following:
- A written estimate for repair work. Read your estimate carefully!
- A detailed invoice of work done and parts supplied.
- Charges which do not exceed 10% or $15.00 over the estimated price, unless you have given permission.
- Return of replaced parts, excluding warranty and exchange parts, if requested in writing at the time a work order is placed.
- A statement on your invoice that all repair work and parts used are warranted for a minimum of 90 days, and/or 3,000 miles, or a statement on your invoice that the work and parts are not warranted for that amount.
- The right to inspect the vehicle before payment.
- The right to state in writing any problem you notice which is directly related to the repair work performed.
- If a warranty is given, the right to return the vehicle for corrections of problems directly associated with the repair work within the warranty period or 10 days, whichever is greater.
- Questions concerning the above should be directed to the manager of the repair facility.
- Unresolved questions regarding service work may be submitted to:
Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection
121 North LaSalle Street Room 800
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Call 311 to file a complaint or file an online complaint here.
The following consumer rights regulating Motor Vehicle Repair Shops are outlined in the Chicago Municipal Code Chapter 4-228
More tips to help you choose a good motor vehicle repair (MVR) shop:
- Go only to licensed MVR’s. If a motor vehicle repair shop is not licensed, it may have “alley mechanics” who are not trained in proper auto repair. These shops are operating illegally and do more harm than good. Legal recourse is difficult because alley repair shops move from location to location making it difficult to track down. You can check to see if a motor vehicle repair shop is licensed.
- Consumers should do their research by checking online reviews and making sure the shop they're interested in does not appear on BACP's list of businesses found liable of fraud in the last 3 years.
- Don’t let small problems become large ones. What may seem to be a minor problem could jeopardize one’s safety.
- Before a vehicle is checked by any repair shop, ask for referrals from people who have had similar problems. Ask for all estimates and warranties in writing, as is required by the Chicago Municipal Code. Read the warranty careful in order to understand what future services are included or excluded.
- Compare shops to get the best deal. Remember, though, it is better to pay a little more for a complete job from a reputable company than to choose the alley repair shop that is unlicensed.
- After deciding on a repair service, make sure a written contract is obtained, detailing all the work to be done and all the parts to be used. The more written details obtained, the more protection you have in case of problems.
- Make sure it is understood by the repair service that any unexpected repairs not previously authorized in writing should not be done without prior approval. Never waive the right to approve unexpected repairs.
- If an insurance company is paying for the repairs, make sure it is known exactly what the insurance covers and the amount it will pay.
- Always keep a repair history of any vehicle. Details are important for any duplicate work that may need to be done in place of sloppy or incompetent work. Such a record may help if a dispute ends up in court.
- If dissatisfied with any motor vehicle repair work, speak with the manager of the establishment. If an amicable arrangement cannot be made, file a complaint with BACP by calling 311 or file an online complaint here.