The following editorial appeared in the Akron Automobile Club's quarterly newsletter.
Go ahead and take a guess: What's the top consumer complaint in the nation?
If you guessed auto repair problems, you're correct.
It's the nation's shame that consumers can't get their cars fixed without getting ripped off.
Through the years, shoddy work and even fraud have created a climate of mistrust and suspicion. All this while less than half the states have specific laws on the books to protect consumers against auto repair fraud.
Automobile owners expect fair and honest treatment when getting their vehicles serviced and repaired. To guard against abuses in the repair business, AAA endorses auto repair laws that require honesty and prohibit deceptive repair practices.
AAA encourages states to pass laws that, at a minimum, include these provisions:
A detailed description of unfair actions and related civil or criminal penalties.
Customer rights prominently displayed at repair facilities.
A written estimate of repair costs and a guarantee that the price will be within 10 percent of the estimate unless authorized by the customer.
Repairs to be covered by a warranty for 90 days or 4,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Replaced parts returned to the customer, except those that must be returned to the manufacturer under a warranty or refund policy.
Much work remains for states lacking specific auto repair laws. Meanwhile, AAA suggests consumers find a reputable repair shop with certified mechanics.
Above all, they should avoid businesses that don't voluntarily offer reliable estimates, warranties and return of replacement parts.