The Manitoba government is bringing in new rules to protect car owners from surprise repair bills.

A bill being introduced in the legislature would require repair shops to give customers written estimates and the right to authorize work before it was done.

Repair shops would also have to ensure their final bill is within a certain range of the estimate.

Premier Greg Selinger says the range hasn't been determined, but he is eyeing 10 per cent as a limit.

"Most car repair businesses treat customers fairly but, unfortunately, there are some situations where consumers need protection," said Selinger.

"Our plan will take what many businesses do already as good business practices and make them the standard, helping to ensure that Manitobans know what will be done and how much it will cost to repair their vehicle."

The increased sophistication of vehicles can make it hard for consumers to understand what is involved with repairs and often makes them feel vulnerable, said Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau.

"The complexities of today's vehicles can create honest misunderstandings between repairers and consumers, but can also put consumers in a position where they do not receive all the information they need to make informed choices," he said.

"These new rules will provide greater protection for consumers and raise the bar for the industry."

The Consumers Association of Canada says it supports the changes because car owners deserve to be informed.

The government says customers who feel cheated will be able to file complaints, and repair shops who break the law will face fines.

Claude Lemoine, who owns DeGagne Motors, said his employees have always done that, but he is happy there will be regulations for the industry.

"Part of me is almost a little bit sheepish that we're having to do this in the automotive industry, you know? This is not the way that we do things, but I'm sure it's out there, no doubt."

The rules would apply to repairs done by businesses to vehicles such as cars, trucks, or motorcycles.

They would not apply to repairs completed as part of a claim through Manitoba Public Insurance, since it has its own procedures and protective measures.

With files from The Canadian Press