I am not a car guy. As long as the darn thing gets me from point A to point B, I’m fine with it. This doesn’t mean I do not have my favorites when it comes to makes & models, as well as amenities. It just means I’ve never taken the time to learn the mechanics, or more importantly, how to repair the mechanics of a working vehicle. However, over the years, I do try to listen & learn from those in the know, as well as from my own unfortunate repair experiences (how many people, after all, can claim they’ve had a chipped flywheel?!). But my last trip to the car repair “store” was a bit more than my wallet wanted to handle. You might be able to save some money, and drive a safe vehicle if you make some judicious decisions at the auto repair shop.
Listen to what’s going on around you. While I was waiting for my oil change, I noticed that the repair shop manager was reviewing repairs with other customers. Amazingly, each one of those in front of me needed an alignment! So, imagine my lack of surprise when the manager informed me I also needed to have an alignment done on my car. It was all professional, with a complete with a color-coded computer printout of the problem area. The real problem was that I wasn’t buying it. I know that living in the northeast can be punishing on a car, but what are the odds that four customers in a row need an alignment?! In this case, I chose not to get the alignment work done. To boot, in telling the story to friends later in the week, I discovered that they too were informed that they needed an alignment. They also chose not to have the alignment done. By listening what was going on around me, I was fortunate enough to make a better decision.
Make a phone call. Even though I’m a novice in the world of cars, I do have friends and family members that have better a working knowledge. Also during my visit to get the oil change, the manager outlined some repairs that should be made that were “no big deal” when you break it down. Well, the “no big deal” repairs would have cost me a little over $500. I asked the manager to excuse me while I made a phone call. In giving the details over the phone, it was decided that the manager’s repair estimate was out of line for the age of my car, as well as with the most recent repairs made at the dealership. If you’re not sure about what repairs to should be made to your car, it’s a good idea to make a phone call before wasting your money.
Get a second opinion. Some people are justifiably loyal to their mechanic or auto repair shop, so the thought of going somewhere else is almost blasphemous. While I was sitting in the repair shop waiting area, I struck up a conversation with another patron. He had overheard the review of my “needed” repairs, and commented that he definitely thought the cost was high. When I asked him why he continued to have the shop service his car, he said that a few years back, the shop fixed a repair that had been under warranty for free. I don’t know if this is reason enough to stay loyal to a shop. In my case, I took my car in for an oil change, and they tried to rope me in to $500 in repairs. Maybe when I take the car to the dealership, I’ll find out that some of the repairs outlined at the other shop are necessary. Getting a second opinion will make me feel more comfortable about spending money on those repairs.
Sinking money into auto repairs is never fun, but it is necessary in order to keep your car in safe running condition. However, it’s important to make good decisions when it comes to car repairs. Not all repair quotes are questionable, but it is still a good idea to get all the information available regarding the repairs needed. Paying attention to the repairs needed on other cars, making a phone call when repairs are questionable, and getting a second professional opinion can help you make the best decision regarding repairs to your vehicle.