Let’s face it: If you don’t know a spark plug from a cylinder head, going into a mechanic shop can be intimidating.
While the vast majority of mechanics are ethical professionals, there’s always a few bad apples. And that can make it easy for consumers to find their way into a bad deal. Too much trust and some slick jargon may leave you spending money on unnecessary or nonexistent repairs.
Here are some ways you can prepare for a mechanic visit and avoid wasting your money:
Check to see if there is an Automotive Service Excellence certification at the shop or a blue ASE patch on your mechanic’s uniform. If so, you can trust that your mechanic has been trained and tested with nationwide automotive standards. You should also research the shop’s reputation with customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau and other business sites.
Every car model is different so don’t take your mechanic’s word for “typical” replacements. Oil changes and oil filters are prime examples. Check your car’s manual and factory suggestions. Many newer automobiles can go upward of 7,500 miles before an oil change.
Before you go to the mechanic, discretely mark certain parts of your car you know will be worked on. If you’re getting your tires rotated, mark one and verify that it was repositioned.
Superior Car Talk mentions that mechanics often charge for work they don’t do and parts they don’t replace. Ask to see the old parts that were replaced and check for your mark. Sometimes mechanics will use a random part from a junk pile, so be vigilant. Also, ask your mechanic to show you the actual wear on the part in need of replacement. That way you’re not paying for a premature or nonexistent replacement.
You should be able to view the working area and check your car’s progress throughout the service. Be wary of mechanics who don’t ask questions or offer a test-drive for you to actually experience the diagnosis. Take your time to get multiple opinions. Check to see if different shops diagnose the same problem and research common prices for needed repairs.
You can also take your car in without any problems, but tell the mechanic it’s been making funny noises and grinding. If your mechanic tells you they can’t find a problem, you may have found a winner
Photo thanks to ocean yamaha under a creative commons license from Flickr