One of the most frustrating aspects of auto repair is wondering whether or not your car repair prices are fair. Few have access to, or the understanding of repair billing, and so have to rely on what the repair shop says. Here are a few tips that will help hold your mechanic accountable, lesson the chances for excess charges, and allow you to save a little money.
1) When you’re told a repair will cost $500 ask for a complete break down of the parts and labor in writing. You need this data so you at least have something. It also serves as a warning that you’re a discerning customer. Don’t just agree when your mechanic says “yeah – that’ll run ya bout $500 bucks or so. There can be a lot of money hidden in “so.”
2) Many of today’s repair shops are turning to “job pricing.” That is, the job pays X, regardless of parts or labor. Job pricing is an extremely effective and fast way to sell auto repair. It’s not necessarily bad, provided the methodology that arrived at the job price is fair. The reality is that it’s usually not. Shops have labor rates and they bill parts – make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for.
3) When you’re told that a certain amount of money will fix your car, ensure your repair shop delivers. In other words, if you had a particular issue where your car made a noise at such and such a speed on bumpy roads, make sure the noise is gone. Don’t just drive home assuming they fixed it right the first time . Evidence shows that you only a 30% chance of getting your car fixed right the first time. If you still have the problem notify your shop immediately, even if you just call on your cell on the way home to schedule another appointment.
4) Car repair prices are often inflated. You almost always have room to negotiate. If you’re having multiple repairs and services (e.g., oil change, brakes, exhaust) ask for a bulk discount. If the auto repair estimate is $780, tell them you have a deal at $680 – you’ll be surprised how willing they’ll be to work with you.
Repair shops have little accountability. In the end, it’s up to you.
I hope this helps…