Minnesota Car Laws
Truth in Repairs Act
Your Rights When Your Car Is Repaired
Minnesota’s Truth in Repairs Act (Minn. Stat. §§ 325F.56–325F.66) spells out the rights and obligations of repair shops and their customers for repairs that cost 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 before the work commences, if you request one. A shop may impose an additional charge for making the estimate, including a charge for disassembly, diagnosis, and reassembly needed to make the estimate, if the customer is told about the charge before the estimate is issued.
- Once you receive this estimate, the shop generally may not charge more than 10 percent above the estimated cost.
- 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. 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 business 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 give you more than a bill with the repair cost when repairs are complete. They should give you a complete breakdown of the repair work, 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 with whom you dealt.
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. There also may be a low-cost alternative dispute resolution program 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.
For additional information about small claims/conciliation court, see Conciliation Court: A User's Guide to Small Claims Court, published by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Oftentimes buyers are not aware that they are buying a rebuilt or salvaged car. 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 a vehicle’s prior salvage history. Don’t be fooled by a freshly painted car.
For additional information on buying, leasing, and owning a car see The Car Handbook published by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.