Tips for dealing with car repairs

- Car repairs, whether expected or not, can be very stressful.  Where do you go?  How do you know you're getting great service and parts?  BBB has tips on the before, during and after of the car repair process. Plus, information on what types of automotive repair scams typically go around.


  1. Know your options before you need the repair.
    • The BBB's Auto Resource Center is a great place to start when looking for trusted auto mechanics, body shops or auto dealerships.
    • Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations now rather than when you need it most.  
    • Auto repair shops that maintain current automotive industry certifications provide evidence that staying on top of current repair standards is important to them.
  2. Shop around.
    • Don't shop on price alone. A mechanic may be the cheapest for a reason. If the work isn't done right the first time, you could end up with bigger problems later. 
    • Find a shop with a customer satisfaction guarantee. If they're not willing to back their work, they're probably not going to treat you or your car right.
    • Make sure they can service your type of vehicle.  Get references.
  1. Write down all issues with your car and your expectations to repair.  The service manager is generally not the one repairing your car.  Having a written explanation of your problems can avoid unnecessary repairs.
  2. Require a written estimate, before performing any repair(s), identifying the cost of labor and all materials, including all warranties. 
  3. Beware of unexpected 'overcharging':  Add on repairs that you didn't need or authorize,  phantom  repairs that never happened, or charging for repairs covered under warranty. 


  1. Have the mechanic review all repairs with you.
  2. Pay by credit card so if the repair didn't fix the problem, you may have the ability to get a refund. 
  3. If you cannot get your car repaired to your satisfaction, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  4. If your car is experiencing an issue that you think could be a result of a failure covered under the manufacturer's warranty or a vehicle recall program, check out BBB AUTO LINE, a dispute resolution program that may be able to help you resolve your lemon law complaint without having to get a lawyer.

Our automobiles are complex machines that require a knowledgeable service team.  Doing your homework to identify those "in the know" early, can prevent headaches, heartache and money lost.  For more tips you can trust, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Overcharging Auto Scams

Be vigilant about methods of overcharging.

  • Add on repairs: they do additional work that you don't need, and didn't authorize.
  • Phantom repairs: charging you for repairs they don't do.
  • Bait and switch: advertising great specials, then pressuring you to buy more services once you're in the door.
  • Periodic maintenance: selling maintenance packages beyond what the manufacturer recommends.
  • Warranty items: charging you for work that is covered by your warranty.

Additional Resources: The BBB is a public service agency with a mission to protect consumers by fostering high standards of responsibility in business practices and services. BBB Serving Southfield, Eastern Michigan & the U.P. regularly informs consumers of scams via social media and the website.

For warnings, scam alerts and consumer tips visit:

If you want to look up information on any federal government recalls for your vehicle visit:

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