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Missouri Auto Repair Laws

February 8, 2022Vehicle Safety

While it is impossible to avoid all problems associated with repairing a vehicle, there are laws in place to help you avoid a dispute or getting ripped off. If a mechanic is deceptive or misleads you in some way, you may have the right to sue them, and they may be subject to penalties.

Consumer Protections in Missouri

Missouri has the following laws in place to protect consumers.

  • Vehicle owners must be made aware when non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts will be used in a repair;
  • Vehicle owners must see a listing of non-OEM parts on an estimate prior to work taking place;
  • Non-OEM parts that an insurer specifies must be similar in kind and quality to OEM parts when it comes to fit, quality and performance;
  • The manufacturer name or logo must be visible on all non-OEM parts installed when practicable.
  • When an insurer specifies the use of non-OEM parts, the costs of any modifications which may be needed to make the repair must also be considered.
  • The vehicle owner must be notified that any non-OEM parts warranties will be provided by the manufacturer or distributor of the parts rather than the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Any violation of these provisions is regarded as unfair settlement practices. In addition, an insurance company cannot require a vehicle owner to travel an unreasonable distance to obtain a repair estimate, have the car repaired at a specific repair shop, or inspect a replacement vehicle. If an insurer does require a particular repair shop, the insurer is responsible for restoring the car to its prior condition at no additional cost to the owner unless otherwise stated in their policy.

Tips to Follow When Finding a Repair Shop

Before taking your car to a repair shop, complete some research to make sure you find a reliable mechanic. Ask family or friends for suggestions. When narrowing down your options, search for online reviews and contact your local Better Business Bureau to check a repair shop’s reputation. Additionally, you can see if any complaints have been made about the shop by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline.

Limiting Unexpected Costs

Once you decide on a repair shop, list all of the parts and areas of your vehicle that are damaged. Although not all damage is visible, pay particular attention to how it runs and feels when driven. When the mechanic tells you their diagnosis, you may not completely understand the technical terms. Take notes and be sure to get a cost estimate in writing. Instruct the mechanic to call you before any additional repairs are made that are not listed on the original repair order. If you believe unnecessary work is being recommended or you are unhappy with the estimate, it won’t hurt to get a second opinion.

How to Avoid Disputes

  • List the labor and related parts or services performed. Make sure the repair order covers all problems described in your description of the damage to the mechanic.
  • Get all warranty information in writing if the work being performed is guaranteed.
  • The best way to resolve any dispute is through communication and patience. If you have a problem with your service, such as excessive costs compared to the estimate or improper repairs, discuss the issues with the original mechanic. When both sides remain calm, these problems can often be solved quickly.
  • If the business refuses to discuss your issues or correct their errors, you may have legal options. These include contacting the Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau, and hiring a St. Louis car accident attorney for assistance.

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