Don’t Get Overcharged for Car Repairs
Find out if you’re getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
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One of the most dreaded things about car ownership is the inevitable car repairs that come with any set of wheels. For the less mechanically inclined, there is a fear of being scammed into paying for unnecessary repairs like headlight fluid.
To make matters worse, a mechanic shortage means car repairs will be more expensive in the coming years. Even in normal times, car repairs could easily reach the five-figure range even with an honest mechanic.
With that in mind, we decided to share some of our knowledge to ensure you're getting fair car repair costs.
How can you tell if a mechanic is honest?
Is your check engine light on? While normally a dreaded situation, it does provide an opportunity to do an honesty check on your mechanic. Most car parts stores, like O'Reilly or AutoZone, will let you use their diagnostic tool for free.
Simply go to one of these car part shops to get your free scan before going to the mechanic. Heck, many problems can be easily fixed at the car part store, like just adding fuel injector cleaner. If a mechanic is needed, now you know what the diagnostic is, allowing you to know if your mechanic is pulling something fishy.
Helpful tools for car repairs
If your car must go to a mechanic, try using Consumer Reports' Car Repair Assistant. The helpful widget will provide you with repair cost estimates based on make, model, year, repair needed, and your location. A Consumer Reports membership is needed to use the tool.
If you're looking for a new mechanic, make sure they are certified with the National Institution of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE administers over 52 tests to ensure that local mechanics know their stuff.
Recertification is required every five years. Unfortunately, ASE doesn't have an online database. You'll have to check with the mechanic over the phone or in-person to verify their accreditation.
Tips for car repairs
Again, we can't overemphasize the value of car parts stores. In many cases, they'll even provide you with some direction to perform simple repairs. Part of their business model is to teach customers how to do basic repairs with the goal of winning their future business.
Even if you don't know the difference between a wiper blade and an air filter, car parts stores can help you replace both. Of course, avoid car parts stores if you have a newer vehicle still under warranty. Even the most basic repairs can nullify said warranty.
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