State regulators yanked the licenses of 18 company-owned Econo Lube N' Tune auto repair shops, settling a 1998 lawsuit that accused the Newport Beach-based chain of pressuring customers to buy unnecessary parts and service. The move will shut down as many as six of the shops, including one in Lawndale, said Kim Canevari, spokeswoman for the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The Lawndale location and stores in Fresno, Barstow, Santa Rosa and La Mesa must close or change owners by Aug. 16, when the settlement is finalized, she said. The remaining shops targeted in the state's investigation will stay open because they already have changed hands or are in the process of doing so, Canevari said. Econo Lube N' Tune also has agreed to pay about $250,000 to cover the state's investigative costs, she said. The state's action does not involve 110 California Econo Lubes operated by independent franchisees. State regulators opened their case in 1997 after receiving consumer complaints about company-owned shops. Undercover agents took cars into nine Econo Lube N' Tune shops for repairs and were billed anywhere from $150 to $550 for unneeded work, Canevari said.
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