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
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
service records. Also, your telephone number is critical should unexpected
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
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
customer's consent. Repair shops generally have the right to charge for
but you must receive advance notice.
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
False and Deceptive Repair Practices
The Mechanic's Lien