An Overview of the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act
In Florida, every car owner will at one point or another, need to have their car serviced or repaired. To avoid some of the most common mistakes and pitfalls, it is important to understand your rights under the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act (FMVRA).
SummaryThe Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act applies to all repair shops except those which repair government vehicles, those for hire, those for use in agriculture, and those which are to be auctioned. The act primarily covers three main areas: repair shop registration requirements, repair estimate requirements and disclosures, and unlawful acts and practices along with remedies to obtain relief.
Repair Shop Registration Requirements:The FMVRA specifically mandates that all repair shops formally register with the state of Florida. In this regard, each motor vehicle repair shop engaged or attempting to engage in the business of motor vehicle repair work must register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services prior to doing business in Florida. The application must be on a form provided by the Department and include at least certain specified information.
Motor vehicle repair shops maintaining more than one place of business may file a single application biennially, which, along with the other information required, clearly indicates the location of and the individual in charge of each facility or in the case of a mobile motor vehicle repair shop, the home address of the owner, if different from the business address. Each registration must be renewed biennially on or before the expiration date of the current registration. The Department must issue to each applicant a registration certificate in the form and size as prescribed by the Department or in the case of an applicant with more than one place of business, the Department must issue a registration certificate for each place of business. This registration requirement protects consumers because it requires shops to include their registration number in any ads, listings, or directories and post their registration number at their place of business which allows consumers to easily look up the repair shop to see if any complaints have been made.
Written Repair Estimates:When any customer requests a motor vehicle repair shop to perform repair work on a motor vehicle, the cost of which repair work will exceed $100 to the customer, the shop must prepare a written repair estimate, which is a form setting forth the estimated cost of repair work, including diagnostic work, before performing any diagnostic work or repair. The written repair estimate must also include specified items. The estimate may be prepared by a third party, such as the owner’s insurance company. The failure to give the written estimate in advance of the repairs may result in the consumer retaining the benefits of the repairs and also recovering the amount of the repair bill. If the cost of repair work will exceed $100, the shop must present to the customer a written notice conspicuously disclosing, in a separate, blocked section, only the statutory statement, as specified. Except as otherwise provided, a copy of the written repair estimate and the disclosure statement must be given to the customer before repair work is begun. The disclosure statement may be provided on the same form as the written repair estimate. The customer may waive the right to the written estimate, either on the disclosure statement, or by dropping the motor vehicle off when the shop is closed.
To recap, a repair estimate must include the following information:• The shop’s name, address and telephone number.
• The customer’s name, address and telephone number.
• Date and time of estimate.
• The year, make, model, odometer reading and license tag number of the vehicle.
• Proposed work completion date.
• Description of customer’s problem or request.
• Labor charges based on a flat rate, hourly rate, or both.
• Estimated cost and charges for repair.
• Charges for shop supplies or for hazardous or other waste removal.
• Charges for making an estimate and the basis for the charge.
• The customer’s intended method of payment.
• Name and telephone number of any alternate person the customer would allow to authorize repairs.
• Terms of the parts and service guarantee.
• Notation if customer wants replaced parts returned.
• Charge for daily storage. Shops notify customers after repair work is completed; customers will then have three working days to pick up the vehicle before storage fees may be charged.
• Disclosure statement.
Repair Shops Cannot Force You to Waive Your Rights to an EstimateA motor vehicle repair shop must not charge for making a repair price estimate unless, prior to making the price estimate, the shop: (1) discloses to the customer the amount of the charge or, if the amount cannot be determined, the basis on which the charge will be calculated; and (2) obtains authorization on the written repair estimate to prepare an estimate; a motor vehicle repair shop must not impose or threaten to impose any such charge which is clearly excessive in relation to the work involved in making the price estimate. It is unlawful for any motor vehicle repair shop to require that any person waive his or her rights provided by statute as a precondition to the repair of his or her vehicle by the shop.