Car accidents can be extremely devastating and frustrating experiences, especially when your vehicle is severely damaged. On top of suffering injuries, worrying about getting our car fixed may seem like an overwhelming feat at the moment. However, it is important that you take the necessary precautions to ensure you not only get the vehicle repairs you need, but that you avoid fraudulent and faulty repair work.
If your car isn’t taken care of properly following an accident, it could be more prone to cause future accidents and results in more complications down the road. That is why it is essential for you to find a trustworthy and reputable mechanic or shop to take care of your car damage.
Determining a Mechanic’s Reliability
One simple way to discover a reliable mechanic is to ask around. Talk with your friends, family members, co-workers, and other individuals to see if they recommend anyone. You can also use social sites, such as Yelp, to see what type of reviews and customer feedback a local shop has gotten in the past. Keep in mind, not all people will review a mechanic or shop online or provide negative comments, so you may also want to call the Better Business Bureau or the Office of the Attorney General in your area to see if there are any hidden complaints.
It is important that you understand that it is illegal for a mechanic to:
- Intentionally give a false/misleading estimate for the parts or repairs needed.
- Claim that repairs were done, labor performed, or parts replaced when they weren’t.
- Allege that the parts put in your vehicle were original or new when they are actually old.
If you trust your car accident repairs to a repair shop that you believe engaged in any of the above illegal activity, you need to take action to bring this deceptive party to justice.
Get Everything in Writing—Including the Estimate
When you go in to a shop you think is trustworthy, you should always ask for a written estimate before they begin doing any work on your vehicle. With this baseline in mind, you should also let them know that any additional repairs or parts should be run by you before moving forward. This ensures that you know what you are getting and can help you avoid unexpected or surprise costs. Your final bill for the repair work may not be the exact same as the original estimate, but it should be rather close.
I didn’t agree to the final work and bill. Now what?
After the work has been finished on your car, if the bills is much higher than what was previously discussed, do not bet afraid to challenge it or ask the shop questions. Request that they write out the reason for any additional charges and make sure you keep that information. Though they can keep your vehicle if you refuse to pay, you should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection office in your area if you believe that the shop has blatantly overcharged you. Under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, you have the right to bring legal action against a fraudulent mechanic or shop. Even if you don’t agree with the bill, it may be in your best interests to pay it up front and then sue the shop for the return of the excessive amount with additional penalties.
Another step you can take is to bring your car to a second mechanic and have them review the receipt of the alleged work done. Then, they should inspect your vehicle to determine if the receipt was accurate or if there are any remaining problems with your car. Make sure you also get this report in writing so that you can bring it back to the first shop. Most importantly, you want to make sure that your vehicle has had all the proper repairs and new parts it needs to provide the safe transportation you need.