RESOLVING YOUR AUTO REPAIR COMPLAINTS
Office of Consumer Affairs
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230
These tips can help you resolve auto repair problems. Follow the tips in the order listed. For recall information or to report an auto safety problem, call the U.S. Department of Transportation's Auto Safety Hotline toll-free at 1-800-424-9393 (202/366-0123 in Washington, D.C.).
1. Contact the dealer or shop that attempted the repair. Don't go to a different shop, or you may end up paying twice. Describe your problem:
to the service manager; be pleasant, but firm; support your case with repair records and dates of repairs; talk to the owner or manager if your problem isn't resolved.
2. Contact the manufacturer if you have a problem with the dealer or if:
a manufacturing defect is involved, or the car is under warranty.
The manufacturer's address and phone number should be in your owner's manual. Ask the manufacturer to set up an appointment for the factory representative to meet with you and inspect your car.
SEEK THIRD-PARTY HELP
3. Contact the consumer protection office where the business is located for help if your car is long out of warranty or your complaint is about an independent repair shop. Better Business Bureaus, consumer groups, or media programs might also help.
4. Consider arbitration* if your problem hasn't been resolved. The auto maker can tell you what arbitration program they use. Most arbitration programs will:
first try to informally resolve your complaint; have an unbiased arbitrator(s) review both sides of the case; and make a decision which is binding on the dealer or manufacturer, but not on you.
USE YOUR LEMON LAW
5. Most states have lemon laws to protect owners of defective new cars. Check with your state Attorney General's Office to see if your car is a lemon, and what steps you must take under the law.
GO TO COURT
6. Small claims court may help if your car isn't a lemon, no agency is able to help, and the amount in dispute is small.
7. Talk to a lawyer as a last resort. The company may not want to mediate or arbitrate if you start legal action.
PREVENT CAR PROBLEMS
* Arbitration is a way to resolve consumer disputes in which both parties present their cases before an impartial person who acts as a judge (arbitrator). The arbitrator's decision can be legally enforced.