Dealing with auto repair establishments can be a nail-biting experience. You take your car into an auto repair shop and are sitting on pins and needles waiting for a diagnosis, then the dreaded bill which is oftentimes, nearly as much as the mortgage on your home!
Who is more often victimized by unscrupulous mechanics? Womenfolk! Nine out of ten women feel victimized, treated differently from men at auto repair shops because there is an assumption, that they know nothing about the inner workings of their cars.
The bottom line when visiting an auto repair shop is to take the reigns, act savvy and never allow anyone to make you feel like a mental midget. How can you avoid being ripped off at your friendly neighborhood mechanic shop, well here's the tea....
1) Start out with a minor job, such as an oil change or radiator flush. If you are given good service and the mechanics performed the job well, then reward the establishment with more jobs--baby steps first, build on repeat business, until the trust factor has been established.
2) Walk into a repair shop with some knowledge as to what could be going on with your car. CarMD.com oftentimes lets you diagnose potential problems before you hit a repair shop. The system uses a hand-held device that you plug into your vehicle (for cars made after 1996), which then generates automotive codes. You then take the system, plug it into your own computer to receive a full report of the problem codes, the best fix and an estimate for parts and labor in your area. It also displays all related technical service bulletins and safety recalls for your specific vehicle. CarMD--$99.00--www.carmd.com
3) Asking friends, relatives, or co-workers about referrals to trustworthy auto repair businesses is always a great move. Look for plaques or banners when you arrive at the shop indicating, whether the owner maintains a current membership in industry associations, local business groups and consumer agencies such as National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE--a nationally recognized standard of technician competence), the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals (AASP), Automotive Service Association (ASA), Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), National Auto Body Council (NABC), and the Better Business Bureau. These organizations strive to educate consumers and repairers on issues such as eliminating fraud and finding a quality repair facility. Another smart move is to verify information about the automotive repair shop on the BBB web site which will indicate whether the shop maintains a good reputation.
4) Look for a well-organized facility with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays. You probably won’t find squeaky-clean conditions at an auto repair facility but consider whether the shop’s image and level of professionalism meet your needs. And PLEASE don’t make your selection based solely on location convenience.
5) Labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, methods of payment, all this info should be posted in an area for all to see.
6) Make sure the mechanics have previously worked on your specific vehicle. There are some facilities that only repair certain makes of vehicles.
7) Ask the mechanic to show you, what needs to be replaced in the vehicle. If your car needs a new air filter for example, ask to see the old dirty one.
8) If something is fixed on your vehicle without your authorization, then don't pay for it! ALWAYS get your vehicle's intended repairs in writing before the job is done; the paper will serve as your legal document as to the work you have agreed upon to have completed.
9) Steer clear of shops that give you a long list of repairs when you brought the car in for only one thing, When in doubt about a laundry list of car repairs, take the vehicle to get a second opinion.
10) A good mechanic should ALWAYS stand behind his work, so ask for a guarantee.
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