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When to Break Up With Your Auto Mechanic

by Shari Smith

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"An honest mechanic is worth his weight in gold." ~ Wayne Hunt

That saying may be true, but when does that "gold" get too expensive? Our vehicles are one of our most expensive possessions, and there are a thousand parts that can break, quit working, or just cause havoc on our pocketbook. You might have a good mechanic or auto repair shop that you've been going to for years, but what if it becomes too pricey?

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  1. The prices keep going up. It is common for prices to increase, but if they suddenly jump to a ridiculous amount, a red flag should pop up.
  2. They want to do a complete replacement when a smaller repair would be adequate. How would you know? By researching major repairs on Repairpal, it will give you an estimate of what it should cost in your area. It also breaks down exactly what should be replaced, or fixed if it is cheaper. If your shop is consistently on the higher end of the scale, it might be time to ditch them.
  3. Oil changes double or you are charged extra fees that used to be included. Since oil changes are the bread and butter of an auto repair shop, they might increase the prices or add extras to the bill to bring in more money.
  4. Things start to feel hinky. You know that feeling when you feel like you're being tricked because you don't know the difference between a tie-rod and a power steering axle? No problem. We'll just charge you for both!
When to Break Up With Your Auto Mechanic

So what can an ordinary consumer do? Plenty! Here are some steps to take when you're ready to break up with your mechanic:

  1. Go back to Repairpal. It lists several names of certified shops in your area that do the work you need done. Look for ones on the lower end of the scale and call the shop to confirm prices.
  2. Ask around. Word of mouth is a huge asset. Ask friends and family if they have a good shop that they recommend.
  3. Call around. Take a look at the yellow pages. You can get an idea from the ads. As a general rule, the bigger the ad, the more expensive the shop.
  4. Are you paying too much for auto insurance?
    Make sure you're getting the lowest rate.

  5. Location is important. If the cheapest shop is more than ten miles away, it might be better to find one a bit closer. If your vehicle needs to be towed, the charge is usually higher. Plus, it is more convenient if you need someone to give you a ride there.
  6. Start small. If you are not ready to trust the new shop with a complete overhaul of your engine, bring it in for an oil change. Note how you are treated. Did they forget your name or hurry through the explanation? Did they answer all of your questions?
  7. Compare prices. Most reputable shops post their prices for common repairs.
  8. Look for coupons. A lot of shops mail out coupons or have them on their website. Use them! You can usually save 10% to 50% by watching for sales or coupons.

Change is not always comfortable, but sometimes it is necessary. Our vehicles are an important part of our lives and can be a huge drain on our wallets. Protect your investment by knowing when to break up with your mechanic.

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