Getting your car repaired is always an expensive experience. There are a lot of variables that go into how much you should expect to pay. Some shops have a bad reputation for being expensive and not doing necessary repairs, while others have a terrible reputation for being fast and poor quality. No matter the shop, though, there are some things you can do to minimize your chances of being scammed.
Here are nine ways to avoid getting ripped off at the mechanic so you can keep your hard-earned money in your wallet.
1. Ask For an Estimate
When your car is making strange noises, or you’re trying to diagnose what’s wrong with it, bring it into a mechanic shop and ask the mechanics about the problem.
If they try to charge you without providing any information whatsoever, run out of there as fast as you can! You need to know what the problem is before you pay money for services that may not even fix your issue.
2. Get Several Estimates
Don’t just go with the first one who tells you their price; get two or three different opinions so that you can be sure this isn’t all some kind of scam… because it probably is.
Mechanics don’t like working with each other, so sometimes they’ll tell you different things about your car’s issue, so they can do all the work and get all the money.
3. Look at Similar Cars
If you find another car with the same make and model as yours, look up the maintenance history of their car.
This could give you a good idea of what kinds of problems are common with the make and model. The information will help you to determine if your car has similar issues or not.
4. Don’t Accept Anything without Asking Questions
If the mechanic’s estimate sounds too high, tell them that you want to get another opinion from another mechanic shop before they do any work.
They might be offended, but it doesn’t matter because at least then you know how much more money you’re going to have to spend! Ask why each part needs to be replaced, what kind of condition it was in when they pulled it out, etc.
For example, before getting a brake replacement for your Subaru, ask the mechanic to show you the brakes on your car.
5. Get a Second Opinion
If you still think the first shop’s estimate sounds too high, get another estimate from somewhere else as soon as possible!
The more time that elapses between getting the first and second estimates, the greater chance you have of being overcharged by both shops. If they can bill you for both estimates, they’ll do it to make extra money off of you!
6. Ask about Taxes and Fees
Sometimes mechanics will charge you taxes and other fees on top of their labor and parts costs without mentioning this until after they’ve done all their work.
This is usually because they know most people won’t notice or complain if they’re charged $25 or so for something like that. Don’t be afraid to ask about any fees you might not understand or that seem out of place.
7. Avoid Mechanics with a Bad Track Record
You can usually find information about bad mechanics by searching for their name or business online, but you might also want to take the word of your family and friends.
They probably wouldn’t refer someone to you if they weren’t happy with that person’s service in the past! Plus, it only takes one instance of getting ripped off before you lose all trust in a mechanic. Even worse, once your trust is broken in that relationship, there’s nothing the mechanic can do to fix it!
8. Look at Reviews Online
After checking out their reputation via word-of-mouth, look them up online using sites like Yelp or Google Reviews if there are still doubts.
Make sure you read the reviews written by past customers, especially those with negative comments.
9. Go to a Shop with a Warranty
These mechanics usually have to provide good service and parts or face losing business, so they’ll try harder than most shops.
The best part is that they also offer warranties for their labor, so you don’t have to worry about them charging you extra when something unexpected comes up in your car. Plus, the warranty will protect you if the mechanic does actually decide to pull some kind of scam on you!
As you can see, there are some very easy ways to avoid getting scammed by mechanic shops. These tips should help you ensure that the mechanic working on your car is honest and reputable.