There are laws that auto shops must follow in the state of California. These laws are in effect to protect consumers from fraud and general misunderstandings. If it isn’t in writing, then there’s going to be confusion on both the mechanic’s and the customer’s end. Here is some of what’s covered by these laws.

Car Repair Estimate

The California car repair estimate laws cover a few different points.

Whether or not there is a charge for the estimate is up to the mechanic. They can charge for estimates if they want, but most auto shops offer this for free for their customers. The law requires, however, that the estimate is written down.

This written estimate must include:

  • The total estimated price of parts and labor for this repair. And the mechanic is to be held to those exact parts and labor costs, unless you agree in writing in advance.
  • You must sign the estimate or work order before the mechanic does the work. Never sign a blank one. Your signature is approving the cost of the repair on that estimate or work order. If you sign a blank work order, then you are responsible for whatever the mechanic charges you.
  • Make sure the estimate specifies if it’s for both the diagnostics and the repair, or just one of them.
  • If you want the old parts given to you, you must tell the mechanic at the time of the estimate. Have him put it in the estimate.
  • It’s up to you to understand what’s in the estimate. You must ask for clarification or you’ll waive your right to those explanations.
  • You can give your approval for the repair by phone, email or fax. The mechanic will note it on the work order.
  • When it turns out that the repair is going to cost more due to unforeseen issues, the mechanic must contact you for your approval and note that on the work order.

California Bureau of Automotive Repair

There are more finer points on this topic. See the California Bureau of Automotive Repair for all the details on the laws pertaining to car repair estimates.

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