Owners of antique car restoration and hot rod shops in Washington are cheering a bill that would excuse them from having to prepare cost estimates for customers with custom and classic vehicles.
Substitute Senate Bill 6005 cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote Tuesday, barely a month after being introduced.
It also sailed through a public hearing with no opposition Friday before the House Committee for Business and Financial Services. The committee will take it to a vote Tuesday.
Sponsored by 8th District Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, and 28th District Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, the measure is intended to fix a problem in which vehicle rebuilders and restorers have been required to provide written estimates, which are required for general auto repair businesses.
"This is a huge benefit for consumers and us," said Kevin Jack, who owns Thunder Road Street Rods and Customs in Benton City.
Jack said custom shops like his and Horse Heaven in rural Benton City, where Harland Lippold does restoration and preservation of classic Ford Mustangs, often take on jobs that have unforeseen problems and expenses.
While auto repair businesses can reasonably estimate the cost for an engine tune-up or overhaul or the cost to replace a windshield or fix a dented door, restoration shops often can't provide a detailed estimate until they get into the project and discover hidden issues, Lippold said.
The current law creates an opportunity for customers to sue restoration shops that fail to provide detailed estimates.
"We called shops all around the state and found a bunch of litigation," Lippold said.
The specter of litigation pushed him and Jack to contact Delvin and Carrell last year about a legislative remedy, Lippold said.
The bill doesn't exempt the shops. Rather, it excuses the shop owners from having to provide written estimates up front for vehicles that would qualify for horseless carriage or collector car license plates, or are street rods or custom vehicles or would be a parts car as defined by state law.
"You'd be surprised at the billable hours we put in on pulling parts," Lippold said.
The bill also allows customers and shop owners to agree on a two-week cycle for billing on time and materials.
"Getting customer trust can be difficult. It will be better for our customers to go with time and materials. And it will keep a lot of us out of court," Jack said.
Friday's testimony focused on the benefits to customers as well as the restoration shop owners.
Delvin noted in a press release that auto repair shops and auto restoration shops are classified differently by Washington Labor and Industries, which adds to the confusion. He said the proposed law will help affirm the distinction.