Car Repairs: How Not to Get Ripped Off

Finding a good mechanic isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and even if you think you found on whom you can trust, they may not be so trusting after all. 

To avoid being ripped off in the future, here are six things to look out for to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to:

#1 Ask For an Estimate

No mechanic shop can give you an accurate estimate over the phone; however, they can give a rough estimate.  If a shop offers an exact estimate, it can backfire because even though you may think you know what’s wrong, there may be other things wrong with your car.  Plus, they may entice you to come in by saying they can do it for X, when in reality, they will charge three times the amount.  A good mechanic will always want to give an estimate in person unless you know exactly what you want such as an oil change or new tires.

#2 Get a Solid Estimate in Writing

Before the car repair shop gets to work on your vehicle, ask them to give you a solid estimate on all the work that’s going to be done. You want to know exactly how much the end job will cost. Allowing a mechanic to get to work on your vehicle without giving you a solid estimate beforehand is a recipe for disaster, and if a mechanic doesn’t automatically do that, chances are they’re not honest and may charge you a lot more than you think.

#3 Talk With Other Customers

When you pull up to the shop, there’s a good chance there are going to be other customers waiting for their vehicle. If you get a chance, ask some of these customers if this is their first time coming to the shop. If not, that’s a good sign; it means they like the work that’s being done.  It also gives you a chance to see who they may have used in the past.  It’s always great to talk with other customers to see why they go there.  Don’t just talk with the customers in the shop, either.  Talk with friends, neighbors and family to see who they use as well.

#4 Search for Reviews

While not all reviews reflect the quality of a mechanic shop’s service, they’re still worth looking at. If the mechanic has good reviews, then perhaps their services are what these reviews say they are. However, you shouldn’t stop there and assume that they’re honest.  Again, while you should take these reviews with a grain of salt, see why people like them and why people don’t like them.

#5 Settle for the Best Deal

Try to get the best deal possible, and never settle for the first estimate you receive. Make sure that no work is performed unless you specifically give permission. If you feel that the cost for parts are too high, it may be possible for you to obtain those parts yourself if you would like, and then simply pay the mechanic for labor.  However, keep in mind some mechanics won’t install parts you bring in, so be sure to ask ahead of time before you invest your money in parts.  If they do allow you to purchase parts, then it may be better to shop yourself to see if you can save.

#6 Pay Close Attention to the Shop

When inspecting a shop, there are a few things you will want to pay close attention to.  How clean is the shop?  A clean shop means the mechanics care for your space and it’s safe to say they will do the same for your car.  How knowledgeable is the staff?  The minute you walk into the shop, you should be greeted with someone who knows what they are talking about.  If they are hymning and hawing, then this could be a red flag.  Lastly, talk to the mechanics.  How old are they?  Are they knowledgeable?  A good mechanic will have been with the shop for quite some time and will be able to answer any question you have.

Doing your due diligence and talking with at least three to five shops will save you a lot of headaches.  Be sure to apply some of these tips mentioned above to ensure you’re paying the fairest price possible.

This was a guest post written by Stephanie Lynch, a freelance writer who resides in Gilbert, Arizona.  She is the co-founder of Howmuchisit.org, a cost-helping database.

Carsurfer Admin

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