Imagine it: you’re cruising down the highway, jamming out, when a dashboard light warns that your car is overheating. When you take your vehicle to an automotive shop, the mechanic informs you that your water pump needs replacing. And, oh, so does your air filter … and look! Your brakes are in need of replacement as well! You fork over much more money than you anticipated. Now, you can’t help but wonder if these operations are necessary, or if you’re the victim of a needless sale.
Auto repair can be tricky business. There are plenty of competent, honest mechanics out there, but like any profession, there are also some bad apples. Some mechanics have no druthers about selling you unneeded repairs to rip you off. Every consumer should know how to sort the former from the latter.
Know Your Car and its History
A good mechanic will save you a tremendous amount of money and headache. Your first line of defense is to know your car. Start by reading its owners’ manual, familiarizing yourself with your car’s specific parts and learning how each system works.
Secondly, keep a record of all repairs your car has had. If a mechanic is recommending repairs, just flip through your repair history folder. If they’ve been done within the past year or so, you probably don’t need them done again or its still under warranty from the last time.
Once you’ve learned how your vehicle operates and logged its previous repairs, you’re better-equipped to know if you’re being swindled. But how do you go about finding a trustworthy automotive pro who won’t swindle you in the first place? Start by doing your homework. Get referrals from friends and family, and make a visit to the facility just to introduce yourself and look around. If the repair shop takes the time and effort to walk you through, answer your questions without making you feel rushed or bothersome, and tell you a little about themselves, you’re on the right path.
Start off Simple
Another important tip is to start with a small, routine job. Go in for an oil change or a simple inspection. Just like with your health, it’s better to build a relationship with a doctor through regular check-ups than to try and find a new doc when you’ve got a major problem. After the job is complete, assess your experience. Was it positive overall? Did the shop give you their full attention and go out of their way to empower you to understand their services and why they provided them? If your first experience goes well, you can start to trust them with bigger jobs.
Finding that “special someone” who embodies all the qualities you’d ever hope to find in a mechanic is crucial, no matter how well-versed you are when it comes to your car. You need a repair shop that blends technologically-advanced training with the old-fashioned values of trust and transparency, so you are always assured that you’re getting only what your car needs, at precisely the right time. With a bit of homework on your end, and thoughtful engagement with the repair shop, you can be sure you’re getting good work done for a valuable price. Man or woman, expert or novice, everyone should get the honest car repair experience they deserve.