Q: I know I need new brakes, but my funds are low. I went online and found an ad on a classified site saying that someone would come to my home and fix my brakes for a really low price if I would supply the parts. Does this make sense to you, and would I really be saving money?
A: In the long run, this will probably end up costing you more than you thought, and it could also be hazardous to your health.
To meet the state of California’s requirements to run a legal auto repair business, the business must pay the California State Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) an annual fee. Most, if not all, the mobile auto repair advertisers on the Internet are operating illegally by not having paid that required fee.
BAR recently ran a sting in Sacramento to address this issue. They scheduled appointments with a number of online advertisers to come to someone’s home and perform brake repairs. They discovered that, in addition to not having paid the fees, a number of these people had active warrants for their arrest or in some cases did not possess legal drivers’ licenses.
Aside from the danger of possibly having someone with an outstanding warrant come to your home, having that same person work on the most important system in your car is probably not a good avenue to take for saving money.
Another point to remember is that when you buy your own auto parts, you may not be getting the correct part needed for your vehicle. Whether the part is right or wrong, once it is installed, you will not be able to return it for a refund. Note that even repair shops ordering parts for multiple vehicles on a daily basis are frequently delivered the wrong parts, but they can recognize the error before installation takes place. The people who ask you to get your own parts most likely would not know the difference.
Then there’s the issue of warranty. How many of these online, illegal auto repair individuals do you believe would provide or subsequently honor a warranty? Because they don’t provide a home address for their businesses, if they do not respond to your phone calls, you have little recourse. If any of the parts provided fail or do not work correctly, they will definitely not help you with that – they did not provide the parts, so you are the one responsible.
The best value for your dollar in auto repair is to take your car to a reputable auto service center with a long history of conducting business and a long parts and labor warranty. The established repair shop desires to create a long-term relationship with its customers based on trust and quality care, not on a one-time, questionable cost savings.