It’s inevitable. If you own a car for any length of time, eventually it will need some type of repair. The big question is how do you ensure that when that time comes, you don’t end up paying too much for auto repair at the auto shop? There are a couple ways to make sure that you avoid overpaying and get the best auto repair for the best price.
The first piece of advice to avoid overpaying at the auto shop is probably the most obvious one: shop around. If you only get an estimate from one auto technician or at one auto shop, it’s very difficult to know whether or not the price that was quoted to you is a good price, simply because you have no basis for comparison and unless you are an auto technician yourself, you probably have no idea what the work should cost just by knowing the type of job. For example, the average person has no idea whether replacing a catalytic converter should cost them $200 or $1,000 (the answer is that its likely to be closer to the second figure). By simply shopping around and getting quotes from other technicians at other auto shops, you can determine which one has the best price. This is how market competition works.
It may also be beneficial to tell the auto technician ahead of time that you will be shopping around for other quotes (or that you already have received other quotes for the auto repair if that is true), because this will give the technician an incentive to quote you their most competitive price for your auto repair so that they don’t avoid losing your business. This doesn’t always work because some auto shops have prices for repairs that are fairly set in stone, but it can’t hurt and you could save hundreds.
Another good piece of advice when trying to get the best price for your auto repair is to find a reputable auto shop prior to needing repairs. Talk to friends and ask around town. Look at online reviews of auto shops and auto technicians on Google Places or Angie’s List. Once you narrow it down to the best one or two go speak to them and compare the prices on simple things like oil changes and tire rotations. Get their business cards and get your next basic maintenance service, like an oil change, done at your auto shop of choice. Focus on building a relationship with your auto technician so that they get to know you and learn to value your business and are thus less likely to try to suggest repairs that may not be necessary in order to make money, or to try and charge you more than normal for a particular repair.
Remember, auto technicians are usually good people who are honest, especially when working with someone that they know. However, the need to make money can provide a powerful incentive for some less scrupulous auto repair shops to try and pull one over on consumers who don’t protect themselves by following the simple tips above. Be ready, and follow these simple tips to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.