If you own a car, you should know a mechanic.
Sure, car owners can abuse their rides, neglect maintenance and hope things are OK. When cars don’t get the attention they need, though, they have a nasty habit of eventually striking back by draining their owners’ bank accounts. Cars don’t thrive on neglect.
Fluids, brakes, drivetrain components, electronics and engine mechanics are all parts of a precision system that must work in perfect harmony to maintain performance and longevity in a car.
If you wait on maintenance and don’t have an established relationship with a good mechanic when your car starts giving you problems, be careful what you say when bringing your vehicle to a shop you’ve never visited. If you value your money at all, be absolutely sure you don’t say anything like this:
“I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I hope it doesn’t cost me a thousand bucks.”
Nope, it won’t cost a thousand bucks. But now the shop knows your limit and may roll out a $995 bill.
“Just do what you gotta do to fix the car.”
This is an open invitation to take you for all your worth. Instead, tell the mechanic the problem and ask to see a written description of what will be done to fix it and how much it will cost. Otherwise you risk being charged for unnecessary repairs.
“Sure, I’ll take the Lifetime Muffler.”
I’ve seen advertisements for these “Lifetime Mufflers” at various repair shops, both national chains and local shops. Be careful, because while the muffler itself may be replaced for free, the pipes and labor surely won’t. There have been complaints of Lifetime Mufflers being poor quality and corroding after a year, which of course takes all the pipes with it, because everything has been welded together. You’re better off buying high-quality parts, accepting a 90-day warranty and watching the system last 100,000 miles. Don’t let any mechanic weld your exhaust pipes together.
“I don’t have a clue about cars.”
Once again, this seemingly innocent little phrase opens the doors for mechanics looking for ways to perform unneeded work at a high cost.
“Use the cheapest parts you have.”
The market is being flooded with cheap, poor-quality parts. Request a name-brand, original-equipment replacement part and ask to see its box. Otherwise you risk paying more than you should for a poor-quality substitute.
Many of the mechanics I know are not trying to scam or deceive their customers. However, if given the chance to make a few extra bucks for performing some quality work, I bet every one of them would do it. Your responsibility, as a consumer, is to know what you’re paying for before you pay for it.
Better yet, have a trusted mechanic perform your basic maintenance, so when a major repair comes up, you know a real professional has your back. Need help finding one? Check out the reviews of mechanics in your city at CarGurus.
Have you ever been burned by a mechanic? Do you have one you trust?