Save On Car Repairs
If you’re anything like me, when the car breaks down and the fuel gauge is not on “E,” you have no clue what’s wrong with the car. I’m mechanically challenged and really don’t know how a car works other than the fact that you stick the key in the ignition, turn it and hopefully the car starts.
That means for me, when it comes to repairing my car, I’m at the mercy of the auto mechanic and trusting everything they say. The problem gets worse since cars today — with all the technology they have inside of them — make the lunar module carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon look like something from the Flintstones. So, what are some things we can do in order not to get ripped off?
Know Thy Car
So many times we think we can save money by telling the mechanic what we think the problem is. What happens is the mechanic fixes what you tell them to, and if that isn’t the problem then you’ve paid for something and you’re no better off.
Make sure you describe the car’s problems in excruciating detail; include all variables that you think are remotely responsible for the problem, such as outside air temperature. Let the mechanic figure out what’s wrong.
Never delay repairs; if you think something is wrong, take it to the mechanic immediately. Most concerns, if not treated at the beginning, will cost you a lot more in the long run.
As for the warranty, make sure that when you purchase your vehicle — especially if you’re not buying a new car — the warranty is as comprehensive as possible. Be sure to understand all that the warranty covers, and what it doesn’t cover.
Know Thy Mechanic
Remember in pre-school when the teacher whispered something to one kid, then that kid whispered it to the next kid, and by the time it got around the room, it was totally different? Speak directly to the mechanic that will be working on your car.
Take it a step further and take the mechanic on a ride so he doesn’t take you for a ride. Let him see and hear for himself what’s wrong with the car. That includes taking a test drive after they’ve worked on the car, but before you pay for the repairs.
Also get a written estimate of the repairs before they begin work on your car and ask them to call you to authorize any further work that may become necessary once they “open the hood.”
Know Thy Facts
Now that we have the Internet, make sure you go online and research the problem (include the make of your car in the search) so you can speak intelligently about the situation when you take the car to the mechanic. Once the mechanic makes their diagnosis, take out your smartphone and validate their assessment online.
Being educated will also help in that the mechanic may be wrong in their analysis; not that mechanics are dishonest, but they are indeed human, and humans make mistakes.
Above all, make sure you’re persistent; if you don’t understand something, continue to ask questions until you do. After all, you’re the one spending the big bucks!