If you have a car but you can’t fix it yourself and you don’t have an uncle who is a mechanic, you’ve probably already had your share of problems. It’s perfect when you find yourself a professional that you can trust and stay with him or her for 20 years, but unfortunately, it’s not always the case. It’s true that there are mechanics who want to make use of the fact that you don’t know anything about cars to make some more profit. It’s not like you have a choice – you can’t avoid mechanics forever if you want your car to be in the best shape. Luckily, there are some ways that may help you stay vigilant and protect yourself from getting ripped off.
Demand an up-front estimate
Of course, it’s almost never possible to get an exact amount, but that’s why it’s important to keep track of all the changes. Never just drop your car off at the mechanic without proper consultations. Ask for an up-front estimate while you’re there to have an idea of how much the repairs will cost you – you can even ask to physically show you what the problem is; then, you have the right to demand that the mechanic calls you to get your permission if there appears to be something that can get the estimated prize higher. Thanks to that, you will be the one in charge of the price and you will be able to check it before agreeing to anything. If you want to know more from the very beginning, there are diagnostic devices and apps (like Fixdapp) you can use to see what’s wrong and check how costly it will be to repair – things like p0303 code error won’t be a mystery to you anymore.
Don’t leave your old parts behind
This may seem paranoid, but actually, there are mechanics who charge you for replacements that never really happened. The best way to avoid it is to ask for the parts that were supposedly taken out – you have the right to take what’s yours with you. So when your mechanic calls you to say that there’s a need for a replacement, ask him to give you back your old parts afterwards. This may be enough to discourage him from trying to befool you if he would want to.
Know your car
It’s harder to get ripped off if you know your car from inside out. You may not be able to do the repairs yourself but you can still know what is what, how and why. If you’re green and oblivious, a mechanic will know it from the start and if he’s dishonest, he may try to overcharge by performing unnecessary actions (or even simply claiming that he did). It’s not necessary to learn everything, but it would be helpful to grab your owner’s manual and see how it generally works. Some mechanics propose changes that may do some good to your car, but are not really necessary. You shouldn’t always agree to everything, especially if you’re not planning to keep the car for more than a few years.
Do your research
Almost everybody has a car these days and that includes your relatives, friends and colleagues – most of them probably see a mechanic from time to time, so there’s a high possibility that one of them has someone trustworthy. These kinds of services truly rely on mouth-to-mouth marketing in gaining new customers and it’s something that you can trust as well. If neither of your friends can help you, you can always get online and find someone who is praised by other users, or who at least doesn’t have too many negative comments. It’s also good if a mechanic has some sort of certificate like ASE certification.
Check the new parts
It doesn’t matter if the price seems fair to you or you already know someone is trying to overcharge you, it’s always a good idea to call the dealer or go online to see how much the parts actually cost. Don’t be afraid to tell your mechanic that you know he’s overpricing – after all, it’s your money.
Just like in the case of any other kinds of services, you have the right to a good mechanic and a fair price. You should be bold enough to pursue that; don’t avoid confrontations if you think someone is being dishonest. You will not only save your own wallet but maybe many others as well. And don’t forget that you should complain if you’re not satisfied with the service – it’s not so unusual to have your bill reduced.