When your car starts acting up and the warranty has expired, you’ll have to get it fixed at the best auto repair shop available. There are plenty of auto service centers to be sure, but how can you be sure you’re getting the best service and the mechanic isn’t ripping you off? Here are some tips.
Make Sure Everything is in Writing
Don’t let the service shop work on your car unless you understand what’s going to be done, how much it will cost and what will be included. You should ask for a cost estimate in writing, allowing some room in case they find another problem, of course.
The point is you need to be certain that the cost includes everything. For instance if the mechanic says your car requires a new water pump, ask if that includes the radiator antifreeze. A good shop will only fix the parts that need fixing, and won’t present you with a list of parts they claim need replacement. Second, a good mechanic will offer options instead of insisting you have your car repaired all at once.
Follow the Maintenance Guide
One of the ways to avoid overpaying and expensive repairs is to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendation. Rather than wait for a component to break down, it’s better to follow the recommended maintenance schedule as it can prolong the life of your car, resulting in cheaper repairs.
Cars have different maintenance schedules, but the rule of thumb for the oil change is every 5,000 or 10,000 miles. The old “change every 3,000 miles” rule is no longer applicable with new cars as they’re more efficient. Just remember, if the mechanic or anyone recommends doing something to the car that isn’t in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, be wary.
Ask the Right Questions
If you’re a car owner, it pays to learn something about the way these vehicles work. You don’t need to learn everything, but you ought to know a few things so there’s no misunderstanding between you and the mechanic. And before you call or go to the shop, prepare a note of what’s wrong with your car. Make sure you include everything such as unusual noises, performance issues, and under what conditions these occur. You should be as detailed as possible so you can avoid return trips to the shop.
With your notes in hand, head over to the auto shop and ask for assistance. Note that some of these shops can get busy so make sure that the customer rep or mechanic is paying full attention. In other words, don’t let a mechanic work on your car until you’ve been heard out.
Finally, you should only let the mechanic work on your car once the two of you have reached an agreement on the proper course of action and you have obtained a written cost of estimate and inspection form. And don’t hesitate to ask questions if there are things about the repair process you don’t understand.