A customer can authorize a repair shop to perform work on their vehicle as long as they provide them with a written estimate of the cost of the repairs. That estimate must list the type of repairs, cost of parts, and labor charges. A shop cannot exceed the amount listed on the written estimate, and the customer has the right to refuse to authorize work that is over the authorized cost. A written estimate also outlines the scope of work and expense caps, and a customer can sue the shop for non-compliance.
When a repair shop performs mechanical work on a customer’s vehicle without his or her written consent, it has a responsibility to provide a written estimate. Although some shops charge for the written estimate, it should be reasonable and detailed. The estimate must include the cost of parts and labor, and whether they are new or used. If a customer authorizes repairs over the phone, they must provide written documentation detailing the parts and labor charges.
While a customer may have an issue with the price of a repair, the mechanic can’t make a decision without your written consent. Usually, a repair shop will keep the parts they replace as long as they are under warranty or an exchange part warranty. However, if you authorize work over the phone, you should insist on seeing those replaced parts when the car is returned. If you are unsure, take the car to another shop and get a second opinion.