1. DON'T BE OVERSOLD
When it comes to car maintenance and repair, 66% of car owners believe they have been ripped-off by an auto repair provider. Most shops will tell you if you need other work done on your car, but the best ones will give you options rather than pressuring you into doing it all at once and hitting you with a bigger bill than you expected. Any time you feel a repair shop is trying to sell you something you don't need, get a second opinion.
2. GET IT IN WRITING, BACKED BY A GUARANTEE
Before getting any work done on your car, get a written commitment of what it will cost for the complete job. Remember, a good mechanic will stand behind his work, so ask for a guarantee. Most factory-authorized dealers offer guarantees on service work and are more adept at identifying problems that might be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
3. CHEAPER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER
While 82% of consumers say choosing a repair provider with fair prices is an important consideration, the least expensive repair estimate may not always be the best option. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 auto repair shops close within three years and many are improperly insured. One of the best ways to keep from getting scammed is to do your homework to find a service provider that has a proven reputation, offers reasonable pricing, and guarantees all work performed on your vehicle. It's best to look for shops that have earned ASE certification or seals of certification from ASA, AAA, and other auto industry groups.
4. FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDED SERVICE SCHEDULE
A few hundred bucks' worth of prevention each year can stave off thousands in repairs. Putting off maintenance until something breaks actually puts extra strain and wear on parts. Following your vehicle manufacturer's recommended service schedule will save you headaches and money. Refer to your owner's manual for a list of what you need to do and when. Sticking to the suggested schedule will help you budget for and plan your maintenance rather than waiting to fix something when it breaks.
5. FREE CAN BE COSTLY
Avoid auto parts stores that offer free diagnostics. While well-meaning, many times diagnostic programs used by parts stores render a code that calls for replacement of a certain part, leaving the underlying problem unaddressed. For example, according to Motor Age Magazine the majority of catalytic converters are unnecessarily replaced because of misguided diagnostics. Having a qualified professional check out your vehicle will ensure only the proper repairs are made - likely saving you money in the long run.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO AVOID BIGGER PROBLEMS
Your senses can help you defend against bigger vehicle problems. Small stains or an occasional drop of fluid under the vehicle may not mean much, but bigger wet spots deserve attention. Blot a small stain sample so you can report the consistency color to the repair shop. Symptoms you can feel like vibrations, difficult handling or a rough ride almost always require attention so don't wait. Prolonging service will lead to bigger, more costly repairs.