How To Avoid Auto Repair Fraud
How To Avoid Auto Repair Fraud
By Kerry Sanders @ NBC NEWS

Researching the right facility is one of the first steps
Complaints about auto repair facilities rank in the top five of all complaints tracked by the Better Business Bureau. But it's not difficult to learn how to avoid becoming a victim of auto repair fraud.

They take your money, your confidence and now they can possibly put your life at risk. But crooked auto mechanics can be tough to spot. When buying a used car, have a thorough evaluation done by a trusted mechanic who has no conflict of interest with the seller of the car. Competent mechanics that know what to look for can spot fraud easily.

Researching the right auto repair facility is also key. Here's what to check:

Current Certification: Top auto repair facilities make sure their mechanics are trained and certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certified mechanics must pass comprehensive exams in each specialized area they service, like for cars, trucks or collision repair. Plus, they must be re-certified every five years, an important qualifier since auto repair technology is constantly changing.

Watch warranties: Check what length of warranty the shop offers on repairs. Ninety days is good, six months is better. If your repair includes new parts, find out what warranty is offered by the part's manufacturer. Part warranties are important if you break down far from the original shop that made the repair and could save you from having to pay for the same part.

Determine Pricing Policy: There are two methods for pricing repairs and knowing which one your shop uses says a lot about how much you'll ultimately pay for a repair. If your shop uses "Book Rate" pricing, they are relying on a nationally published estimating manual which establishes the number of hours you should be charged for a specific job, regardless of how long it actually takes to do the job. This pricing cuts both ways. For example, under "book rate" pricing, you might expect to pay for 2 hours to replace an exhaust system. But if the mechanic only takes an 1 1/2 hours to do the job, you'll still pay for two. The other way is to pay based on the "actual time" it takes to do the job. Under the best scenario, you should ask to be charged for actual time, not to exceed book rate for a particular job.