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THE REPAIR CONTRACT
Q. What should appear in a repair contract?
A.
The repair contract, often called the repair order, is essential for getting a satisfactory
repair job done on your car. The repair order describes the work to be done, and, once
signed, creates a contract authorizing the mechanic to make the described repairs.

The repair order should contain:

  • the make, model, and year of your car;
  • the repair date; an accurate description of the problem;
  • a list of parts to be used and their charges; the amount of labor estimated to be needed
    (time to be spent fixing your car);
  • the rate to be charged, either per hour or the flat rate to do the work; and your name,
    address, and telephone number.

The mileage and repair date are important. They verify warranty terms and simplify
service records. Also, your telephone number is critical should unexpected problems arise.
If the mechanic cannot reach you, the mechanic has to decide whether or not to proceed,
and you may have to live with the results of that decision.
Note that in many states, if you do not sign the repair order, you do not have to pay for
any services done by the mechanic.

Q. Must I receive a cost estimate for the repairs before work actually begins?
A.
It is a good idea, and a required practice in some states. In those states, the final cost
must not exceed a certain percentage or dollar value of the original estimate without the
customer's consent. Repair shops generally have the right to charge for making estimates,
but you must receive advance notice.

Repair Warranties
The law may entitle you to some repair warranties. If the repair shop makes an express
warranty, you are protected as long as you abide by the terms of the warranty. Likewise, if
a manufacturers warranty covers the car or part, you should not have to pay as long as you
satisfy warranty conditions. Some state courts have held that the implied warranty of
merchantability covers car repairs.
Beware of "unconditional" guarantees offered by many franchise repair shops. There are
always some limitations on written guarantees. Be sure to read the fine print; there may be
special procedures that you are required to follow in order to obtain the benefits of the
warranty.

- False and Deceptive Repair Practices

- The Mechanic's Lien

- Service Contracts

 

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