Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
M - F 8 am - 5 pm
Truth in Repairs
Minnesota Car Laws
Your Rights When Your Car is Repaired
Minnesota’s Truth in Repairs Act spells out the rights and obligations of repair shops and their customers for repairs costing more than $100 and less than $7,500. Know your rights before you take your car in for repairs:
- You have the right to receive a written estimate for repair work, if you request one.
- Once you receive this estimate, the shop generally may not charge more than 10 percent above the estimated cost. A shop may impose an additional charge for disassembly, diagnosis and reassembly of the item in order to make the estimate if the customer is told about the charge before the estimate is issued.
- The shop is required to provide you with an invoice if the repairs cost more than $50, and/or the work is done under a manufacturer’s warranty, service contract or an insurance policy.
- The shop cannot perform any unnecessary or unauthorized repairs. If, after repairs are begun, a shop determines that additional work needs to be done, the shop may exceed the price of the written estimate, but only after it has informed you and provided you with a revised estimate. In this case, if you authorize the additional work, the shop may not charge more than 10 percent above the revised estimate.
- Before the shop actually begins repairs, you have the right to ask for and receive replaced parts, unless those parts are under warranty or other restrictions. In that case, they must be returned by the shop to the manufacturer, distributor or other person. You may pay an additional charge for retrieving parts because the shop usually can sell them. However if you are not allowed to keep the old parts you will have an opportunity to examine them for up to five days after the repair.
Resolving Repair Disputes
Billing, the quality of repairs and warranties can all lead to disputes. Don’t let it be “my word against yours.” Keep all written estimates and bills. Car repair shops should actually give you more than an invoice when repairs are complete. They should give you a complete breakdown of what they did, including the cost of each part, labor charges and the vehicle’s odometer reading when the vehicle entered the shop and when the repair was completed. Save this invoice in case you have any problems. Write down your experiences along with dates and names of the people you dealt with.
If you have a dispute over a repair or charge, try to settle the problem with the shop manager or owner first. Some businesses have special programs for handling disputes. If this doesn’t work, you may want to seek help from the Attorney General’s Office. Or, a low-cost alternative dispute resolution program may be available in your community. In addition, you may want to consider filing a claim in small claims court (also called conciliation court), where you don’t need a lawyer to represent you.
Three Day “Cooling-Off” Law
Many Minnesotans believe that the three day “cooling-off” law applies to an auto purchase. It does not. Once you sign an auto contract and take delivery of the vehicle, you are obligated.
Often times buyers are not aware that they are buying a rebuilt or salvaged car. If a car is less than six years old, Minnesota law requires car dealers to tell buyers if the car they’re interested in buying has been branded as salvaged or rebuilt. The law requires that the title documents for salvaged cars receive a “brand,” or a permanent written disclosure about an auto’s prior salvage history. Don’t be fooled by a freshly painted car.