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Avoiding costly auto repairs

Carbon County residents may think the best mechanic is one they do not visit very often.

In recognition of October Car Care Month, AAA Utah has compiled a list of tips designed to assist consumers in avoiding costly motor vehicle repairs and selecting auto technicians for maintenance.

"Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid the expensive headache of car repair," said Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson. "Keep to the service schedule laid out in your owner's manual for oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks, battery replacements and the like, and you'll spend as little time and money as possible at the shop."

When vehicles require auto maintenance or repair, AAA Utah recommends that Carbon County consumerst:

•Determine what type of repair facility is needed.

Most vehicles can be repaired and maintained by full-service repair facility, but if there is a major problem with a specific vehicle system, a shop specializing in that area might be the best choice.

Vehicles still under warranty must be repaired by the dealer.

•Select a repair facility people trust.

Local residents should not hesitate to solicit input from friends, relatives and co-workers.

•Make an appointment.

If the facility manager knows a motorist is coming and has a rough idea of the problem, the right technician can be assigned to the job and allowed enough time to get it done properly.

•Describe the problem.

Don't tell the technician what needs to be repaired or replaced unless it's obvious. Instead, describe the problem and its symptoms, and let the technician determine the appropriate solution.

•Read the repair order.

Local consumers should be wary of blanket statements such as "check and correct transmission noise" or "fix engine."

The blanket statements could result in an unexpected and costly major repair.

People should never sign a blank repair order or tell the shop to "just fix it" or "do what's necessary" unless the problem is covered under warranty, advised the AAA Utah spokesperson.

•Request and obtain a written estimate.

Oral estimates can be disputed or forgotten. consumers should always ask for a written estimate prior to approving work on their vehicles, indicated the AAA Utah representative.

•Insist on a call if repair costs will exceed the estimate.

Predicting exact repair costs can be difficult so most written estimates allow up to a 10 percent overrun, pointed out the AAA Utah spokesperson.

However, Carbon County residents should make certain that the request to be contacted if the costs will exceed the allowance is written on the repair order.

•Ask for replaced parts.

When dropping a vehicle off for service, consumers should tell the shop they will want to see any replaced parts.

Consumers are also entitled to keep those parts, unless the facility must return them under a warranty or exchange program.

Replaced parts and a well-documented repair order can be useful if there is a problem later.

•Take a test drive.

If a problem remains or the vehicle does not run properly after it's picked up, local residents should not go home. Instead, the consumers should return to the shop immediately.

If a problem arises after leaving the shop, people should make an appointment to bring the vehicle back as soon as possible.

•Get a detailed copy of the repair order.

In addition, local consumers should make sure the repair order specifies the cost of labor and all parts.

Residents should deteremine whether the facility's warranty is available in writing if it is not printed on the bill.

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