1. You should always be given the option to choose a written, an oral, or no estimate at all BEFORE repairs or services are performed. The State of Ohio strictly regulates automotive repair shops. Refer to The Ohio Administration Consumer Protection #109:4-3-13 regarding Motor vehicle repairs or services. This Code requires a repair center to offer a customer, (at face to face contact at the repair center), the right to an Estimate before work is performed. This should happen before they “check out” your car. A shop should give you a form to sign asking you to sign how you want your estimate along with your contact information. If they do not have one or are unfamiliar with the form, think twice about doing business with them. This form protects you as well as lets the repair center know your preferred means of quoting. There should also be a sign posted stating “If the expected cost of a repair or service is more than twenty-five dollars, you have the right to receive a written estimate, oral estimate, or you can choose to receive no estimate before we begin work. Your bill will not be higher than the estimate by more than ten per cent unless you approve a larger amount before repairs are finished.”
2. Check with the BBB and be sure they have an “A” rating. The Better Business Bureau in the last year or so changed their rating system. You can go tohttp://www.clevelandbbb.org/ and enter a phone number and instantly see the rating of A-F. An F rating is for extremely poor service, unscrupulous dealings, not answering complaints, etc. You can now also read the complaints by consumers as well as the company’s response. This gives you the ability know both sides of the story. This was a change by the Better Business Bureau in response to consumer/business requests.
3. Always obtain a quote in writing, itemizing the parts to be replaced or the Diagnostic Services being performed. Be sure that the Parts and Labor are separate. Ask why the part(s) are being recommended for replacement. For instance, is the part(s) broken, loose, damaged, or unsafe? For example, today, brake rotors are generally replaced rather than machined (as in years past, they were often machined). The reason is that the new ones are almost as inexpensive as having the rotors machined and you would have a much longer life out of the new replacements. But, if a shop recommended for instance a part replacement because it was broken or unsafe, then you might consider having the repair done. Always ask to see it and consider getting a second opinion.
4. Ask what the warranty is on the repairs to be performed. Again, be sure to have that in writing on the quote that you receive before you authorize the work (not after it has been completed).
5. It is always best to use a AAA certified repair shop. Find out if the company is certified by the American Automobile Association (AAA). If they are, they have completed a thorough inspection and have qualified technicians. AAA also contacts and surveys the repair shops customers before giving them certification. The shops customers answer a written survey relative to their service experience before being accredited by AAA