Mechanic charging for unauthorized repairs

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can a mechanic make repairs to your vehicle that were not discussed and agreed to ahead of time and charge you for them?

Consumer Ed says:

No, a mechanic should not charge you for different repairs to your vehicle that are unrelated to the repairs that were discussed and agreed to by you ahead of time. If you bring your car in for one issue and the mechanic finds an unrelated problem, the mechanic needs to get your permission before doing additional work.

You should always ask for a written estimate from the mechanic that specifies the repairs to be made and the estimated cost. The estimate is proof that you and the mechanic understood the problem that needed to be fixed. Of course, mechanics will sometimes find that the issue you brought the car in for is more involved than expected and the actual cost to repair that issue will be more than the original estimated cost. In that situation you are still responsible for paying the mechanic, even though the cost is more than estimated.

If you paid for the unauthorized work already and want to be refunded, or you refused to pay and the mechanic is trying to collect payment, you should consider contacting an attorney. And before you take your car to the shop again, consider taking a look at Consumer Ed’s guide to car repairs and maintenance. You can also submit a complaint to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

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