5 ways to avoid overpaying for car repairs

Do you have a sneaking suspicion you paid too much for that muffler? Here's how to make sure your mechanic doesn't rip you off.

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Feb 10, 2014 9:06AM
Can someone tell me what vehicle manual say's to go 30,000 on your oil change like the first slide says?

 "Another option for figuring out what's wrong with your car is to purchase a diagnostic code reader. Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya at Santa Monica, Calif.-based says it costs $50, but some cost much more. It plugs into your car to diagnose when the check engine light is on."



This comment is pure Bullsh!t. I have never seen a code reader Diag and car yet. It will give you the code and the problem area, but the technician will still have to diag the problem. All the code tells you is the PCM is receiving a signal that is out of the expected range it is programed to receive. Now the technician needs to find out why.

Find a mechanic you can build a good,trustful relationship and be the only mechanic that works on your vehicle just like that hairdresser or barber who does your hair.I always go to the same mechanic and the same barbershop for my needs. 
Feb 10, 2014 9:16AM

"You need to know that at 30,000 miles your car needs to have an oil change and the tires rotated so a dishonest mechanic doesn't do it at 5,000 miles."

Uh...my manual says oil changes at every 7,500 miles. I do it every 5,000, and tire rotation every other change.

Feb 10, 2014 11:47AM
If you wait until 30,000 miles  to change your oil and rotate your tires as the example in this article you will end op frying your engine. Your oil should be changed at three to five thousand miles.
Feb 11, 2014 9:30AM
I'm a tech and asking for the old part to be returned to the owner in the new box it came in doesn't always pan out.... especially when it is a remanufactured part that has to be returned for a credit in the box or package it came in...... You can ask to see the part and the box, but be prepared for an additional charge on your bill if you decide you want the old starter, alternator, water pump, fuel injectors, etc...... all of these plus others carry some pretty hefty core charges, especially when you start getting into the more exotic foreign models.... Some times the core can have a charge that is higher than the cost of the replacement part depending on the rarity of the parts in the rebuilding market..... Some times these so called "Experts" writing these info articles never cease to amaze me on their perspective of the auto repair industry.... I've always found that people that don't trust other people usually are the untrustworthy of the two.... I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "My car wasn't doing that before you fixed it".... How do we know how a car was acting or driving like when it is towed into our shop "Not Running".... Communication is the KEY
Feb 10, 2014 12:43PM

I have a sign in my shop , that says get an estimate , get more than one , ask for your old parts , and if it is not fixed , take it back and demand some thing for your money . would you buy a TV and keep it if it did not work , and those oil changes for cheap , by the dealers , is to get your car in there so the can , tell you how much work you need , its a scam . that's why my oil changes cost around 50.oo bucks , no cheap oil no cheap filters , and if we see some thing that can cause future problems or just need to be serviced , we tell the cutomers how much how long , and the amount of time they would have before its a real problem , no horror storys of exsplosions or acceident involving bus loads of orphans

Feb 10, 2014 8:08AM
Let's just face it! This is a specialty field. Their not gouging anyone. The average hourly rate for an auto shop is $85.00-$110.00 per hour plus parts (33.3%mark up). They go by the book and have a minimum time for each job and each manufacturer specific. Unless you have the tools and the know how you are going to a Mechanic.
Feb 7, 2014 10:57PM
Marry a mechanic ,or get a bike End of problem 
Feb 8, 2014 12:01AM
We are fortunate to have a well respected Ford/Lincoln dealer who is family owned and on their 59th year in business. In the service department all normal repairs are posted on a huge bulletin board. Oil changes, batteries, brakes per axle, shocks, transmission flushes, coolant flushes, serpentine belts etc. All repairs and labor charges are in a written quote and must be signed off on before work will begin. The old parts are given back as part of the work except for batteries and tires. Are the repairs expensive? When we consider the price and payments of 'NEW', keeping old Betsy in good running condition is a good investment.
Feb 11, 2014 11:27AM

This article was obviously written by someone who knows NOTHING about the auto repair business.  Over paying and 'upselling' are mostly done by facilities that pay their service writers or techs very little money UNLESS they sell additional work, in which case the seller gets a percentage of the fees.  Mostly, when you are told that your vehicle needs additional work, it is true, and you were unaware of it. 

    As previous commenters wrote,  many parts have a 'core charge', meaning, the shop HAS TO RETURN the part to the supplier, in the original packaging, or pay an additional fee, anywhere from a few dollars for a battery, to hundreds of dollars for a transmission or engine assembly.  Also, if I handed you an alternator, how on God's green earth are you going to determine that it is working or not?  That would require a test bench, or, remounting it on the car and testing it, something you couldn't do in the first place or you wouldn't have brought it to me to fix it! 

    Pricing parts on the internet is a very unrealistic way to determine the true cost of having a professional repair your car.  Remember, it is a business, not a charity.  All shops must make a profit on any part they sell or they will not be in business very long.  And, the price will vary by market, something an online supplier in Arkansas won't be aware of in Bergen County, New Jersey...Also, cheaper prices usually mean cheaper parts.  Cheap ball joints that blow out after only one year are no bargain no matter how inexpensive they are. 

   Estimates are just that, an ESTIMATE of the price to repair, not a quote.  Very often, more parts or repairs are needed and not realized until the job is being performed.  If I could see the future, I certainly wouldn't be repairing cars for a living! 

   Code readers don't always read all codes in a vehicle's computer. And codes only give you basic info, they don't diagnose the problem.  Just last week,  a customer had a code for his rear oxygen sensor.  The auto parts store who read the code sold him a sensor, code still there.  They sold him another rear sensor, (there are two rear and two front), code still there.  He bought the two front ones, code still there.  He needed a computer all along.  He wasted almost $4oo on 4 unneeded oxygen sensors and still had a $900 repair to solve the problem! 

   Owner manuals are written by the vehicle's manufacturer, so you'd think they had the most accurate info in them.  Honda stated during the mid 2000's that most of their cars only needed an oil change every 10,000 miles, that with less than 4 quarts of conventional oil.  Try to find an oil manufacturer that will tell you their conventional oil will last 10,000 miles.  We have seen sludge in these engines, and now Honda has shortened the interval to 7,500 miles.  OOOPS!  Toyota has no interval for transmission fluid flush.  Yet transmission  fluid does have a service life limit in ANY vehicle.  OOOPS again! 

    I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Find and trust a local repair facility and stick with them.  That's the best advice.  These articles are junk and just hacked out to fill the space on pages like this, and to get you to look at the ads. Feel like you've been had?  Good luck!

Feb 10, 2014 10:54AM
Or you can learn how to maintain your car and not rely on a mechanic.  My daily driver is a 1967 Cutlass.  I restored it and maintain it.  It's not complicated, no electronics, no fuel injection, no abs, etc... Just a simple car to work on.  The biggest perk is no car payments and it will probably be worth what I have in it come time to sell.
Feb 8, 2014 2:19AM
The best way to avoid overpaying for car repairs is to maintain it by the book and drive it easy.  If something isn't right, get it looked at right away.  You will avoid most problems that way.
If you cant fix em, dont drive em....

Cars are an item that needs constant maintenance and repairs. Its just the nature of the beast.

Learn to do what you can yourself to save a few bucks... Find an honest repair shop to do the rest.

Shop the repair cost online to see if its in range but if the shop is honest, pay them. They have to make a nickle too ya know. The shop, tools, technology, and training are a cost they have to pay just to stay current.

Feb 7, 2014 9:27PM
For most people it is hard to get far without someone taking advantage of you and overcharging or gouging, happens to me some of the time and I know it but can't keep it from happening because of the urgent need for the work to be done. It really pi$$es me when it happens.... 
Feb 10, 2014 9:30AM
I have learned to be very leary with some service places. One place tried to sell my daughter some brakes and found out noting was wrong with them and there is another place in my hometown that has been known to rip off people. My daughter and my dad never done business with them again either. A friend of mine does work on my car when needed and has warned me about others he knows, also. If there are any really good ones, I wished I knew where they were. Besides, women are the biggest victims in most cases.
Feb 11, 2014 10:42AM
can we please for once do a report on how you are being screwed by doctors or lawyers and leave the damn mechanics alone. this story has been around since 1907
Feb 10, 2014 8:16AM
Hey Zero....your Nuckin Futs if you think we need Government in more of our Business!
Feb 10, 2014 1:35PM
Even though you DO go to a reasonable trustworthy mechanic, there seems to be an inclination for them to make the big repairs reasonable so you'll come for all the normal maintenance items too. A casein point is a fuel filter change for my care was quoted as $110 by my trusted shop. Yes, it is fairly important to do this as dirt in the fuel system is a bad thing. But I hestitated in having them do it at that price. After looking into it, the factory part was $13. The access to it was nothing special as I could do the work laying on the ground without jacking the car up. It was simple for me to accomplish (having read instructions posted on the web). SO, if I did it in 10 minutes, without the aid of a lift, WHY was their price $110 ???  But for many other repairs (brakes, A/C, etc) they were very competitive. Very strange.
Feb 7, 2014 9:14PM
Would these same tactics work on medical procedures?  Why does CONgress allow "ask your doctor" ads such as the one for celebrex that plainly says it might cause death?  Where else can one's life be openly threatened in front of millions of people without repercussions.  We have a sorry CONgress!   I long for this rathole to be taken over and responsible leadership put in place.
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