Business: AUTOS: THE MESS IN THE GARAGE

AUTOMOBILES are costly to buy and to maintain. Although motor-happy Americans are buying more and more of them (see following story), they have reason to cringe when it comes to repairing aged or ailing cars. As Economist William N. Leonard, a professor at Long Island's Hofstra University, told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee last week: "No matter where you go for auto repairs, you run the risk of a fleecing. The automobile-service business has become a jungle for the consumer."

That harsh charge was echoed repeatedly during a three-day congressional hearing on the $25 billion-a-year auto-repair industry—a branch of U.S. business that collects...

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