Auto Repair Tips

If Your Car Breaks Down
  • Get the car as far off the road as possible
  • Set out flares or reflective triangles to indicate you have stopped.
  • Stay with your car until help arrives. If you feel in any danger, stay inside the car with the doors locked until the police arrive.
  • If your car must be towed check the owner's manual for instructions. Some cars must be towed backwards; others require a flatbed tow.
  • Local police usually have a list available towing services if you get stranded. Inquire about costs before you allow your car to be hooked up to the truck.
  • Make every effort to remove your car from the service station to which you are towed unless you plan to have your car repaired there. You may be charged daily storage fees.
  • Remove all valuables from the car if it has to be left anywhere.
Describing the Problem
Describe the car's symptoms to the mechanic. Unless you are certain what the problem is, don't diagnose it yourself. You may end up paying for more work than is necessary.

Getting an Estimate
New Jersey auto repair regulations require that auto dealers and mechanics give you a written estimate before repairing your car. In addition, the shop cannot begin repairs without receiving your authorization first.

Diagnostic Fee
The mechanic has the right to charge a fee for diagnosing the car's problem. Ask about the fee if there is a chance you will not be having the car repaired.

Work Authorization
  • If you can't wait for an estimate, you can ask the repair shop to prepare the estimate and call you for oral approval. At that time the repair shop must note the details of the phone conversation including the time of the call, and the number where you were reached.
  • You are entitled to the return of any replaced parts provided you request them before the work is begun.
  • Ask if the parts to be replaced will be new, used, or rebuilt. Any new part should come with a warranty.
  • Ask how long the work will take.
The Work Order
Check the invoice carefully making sure you understand everything that was done and what you are paying for.
You are entitled to a legible copy of the work order. The charges for parts and labor must be itemized separately indicating the use of any new, rebuilt, reconditioned, or used parts.

Before You Pay The Bill
Test drive the car to determine whether the problem is solved.

General Maintenance
Keep a copy of all work orders and receipts.

Bring any complaints to the attention of the service manager of the repair shop. If you do not receive satisfaction Contact the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General's Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6200