A QUICK GUIDE TO THE NORTH CAROLINA MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIR ACT
What's covered; written estimates; required notifications to customers; repair invoices; mechanic's liens
Who's Covered by the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Repair ActThe North Carolina Motor Vehicle Repair Act, N.C.G.S. Chapter 20, Article 15B, applies to almost all repairs to motor vehicles of $350 or greater. It does not apply if repairs will be made by a third party (insurance, a service contract, or manufacturer’s warranty); the customer’s share of the repairs will not exceed $350; the work involves only the sale or installation of tires; or the work only involves the coach portion of a recreational vehicle.
The Motor Vehicle Repair Act applies to any vehicle that is motor-powered, including trucks, RVs, and scooters. It does not apply to mobile homes, trailers, or watercraft without motors.
Written EstimatesRepair shops are required to provide an estimate for costs of repairs, including parts, labor, taxes and supplies, for any work exceeding $350. A copy of the estimate must be given to the customer before work is begun. If the shop believes an accurate estimate cannot be given until a diagnostic evaluation is made, a written estimate will not be required until the diagnostics are completed. A customer can only waive their right to this repair estimate in writing.
Shops cannot impose a fee for preparing a repair estimate unless they obtain written authorization from the customer. A customer cannot be billed excessive charges or threatened with refusal to perform work in order to induce them to waive their rights under the Repair Act.
A sign at least 24 inches on each side must be posted stating that the consumer has a right to receive or waive an estimate if costs of repairs will exceed $350. The sign must also state that customers have the right to inspect or have returned to them all parts that are replaced during repairs.
Estimates and NotificationsThe customer must be promptly notified when the diagnostic work is completed, or if repair costs will exceed ten percent of the written estimate. A customer and their insurer must be notified if any used, rebuilt, salvaged, or straightened parts are used as replacement parts. The customer will then authorize, modify, or cancel the repair order, either orally or in writing.
If the customer cancels the repair order and authorizes reassembly of their vehicle, the shop should quickly reassemble the vehicle in a condition reasonably similar to the condition in which it was received. As long as the customer was notified of potential costs in the written repair estimate, he or she is still obligated to pay the cost of authorized repairs that were actually completed, costs of parts and labor to replace items destroyed by the teardown, and cost of reassembly. The shop may not charge more than the written estimate and any authorizations to exceed the estimate, plus ten percent. The customer is entitled to inspect the parts that were removed from the vehicle.
Repair InvoicesAfter repairs have been completed, a customer must be provided with a legible copy of the repair invoice, including a statement describing the services performed to correct the problem or, an itemized description of all labor, parts, and merchandise supplied. This description does not have to be provided when a third party, such as an insurer, is paying for the repairs. Any replacement part that is used, rebuilt, or reconditioned, must be identified.
The customer must be given a copy of any document that he or she has signed. A customer who can prove they were injured by a violation of this Article may be entitled to damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
Mechanic's LiensMechanics and shops have an automatic lien on vehicles for authorized repairs that are not paid. They do not have to file a mechanic’s lien to keep the vehicle. Do not try to take back your vehicle from the mechanic, as they have legal possession. It is usually best to pay for the authorized repairs, then sue to recover any unjust amounts in court.