We’ve all heard it before, “So when I picked up my car ….. AND THEY CHARGED ME SO MUCH! ….and 2 miles down the road it started doing the same thing!” Or phrases to that effect. And lets not forget the nightmare stories about someone dropping their car off at a repair shop for some simple repair that may cost $100 and in the span of 2 hours or so, it turns into “Your car is ready to fall apart and it will cost $1000” And you wonder to yourself if this is really the case? Is the Shop Owner really being honest with me? Do I really need all these parts and labor costs, just to get my car road worthy?
I am going to give you first hand knowledge and sound advice on how NOT to get scammed or ripped off by your Local, Chain Store or Dealership Auto Repair Facility. If you follow some of these simple steps and ask the right questions, you will save yourself allot of money in the process! And more importantly, find a shop and technicians you can trust.
We’ll start off with your Independent Local Shop. I guess a common scenario would be you’ve just moved to a new town and your car is ready for some maintenance. Now its been my experience that most folks would just open up the phone book and start “dialing for dollars”. I don’t recommend this! Its like a “crap shoot” and the odds are not in your favor!
What I do recommend is this and its pretty simple. Ask around! You have to go to the grocery store, the hardware store, the drug store, the school, etc… basically your every day errands can help you find a good shop. If in your travels the same shops name comes up over and again, then its a good bet they run an honest business! Next call or go online and check with the Better Business Bureau.
Of course you can still pick up the phone and call around, but there are some other things you should do before you commit to any major repairs on your vehicle. Stop in and introduce yourself. Ask a variety of questions like:
1. Are your technicians ASE certified? (look for the ASE sign!)
2. What is your warranty policy on parts and labor?
3. Do you save the old parts so I can look at them?
4. Is there a technician on staff for advanced diagnostic work? (VERY important for the dreaded “check engine light” and emissions failures!)
I’m sure you can think of more questions! But basically get a feel for the owner and the way he or she runs their business. Additionally, look around the shop a bit at overall cleanliness and organization. A clean and well organized shop says allot!
Now lets talk about the Chain Stores and Dealerships ( and I’m probably going to anger some people out there, but truth be told, you need to be aware of some things!) I’ll make 3 very important points:
1. Chain Sores and Dealerships, for the most part, have HUGE overheads. Simply put that’s what it costs them to do business. So, huge overhead equates to higher labor and parts pricing, as much as double as what you would find at a local shop!
2. 98% of the technicians are paid on a “Flat Rate” system. Meaning if a job listed in the Labor Guide says it should take the technician 2 hours to perform a certain task, he or she gets paid for the 2 hours plus bonus time if its completed sooner. This, in my opinion, all too often can lead to some serious problems because the technician isn’t thinking about the task, they’re thinking about “how fast can I get this done”. And if the technician goes over the alloted time then they’re only paid for the 2 hours and it hurts the technicians paycheck. Not a fair deal for you or the technician! But its the nature of the business, sad to say.
3. This applies to the Dealership only. Don’t believe for a second that just because you take your vehicle to the dealership for repairs that the technicians are any better trained or more capable than any other place. Don’t let the big names fool you! The learning curve is the same and experience matters, plain and simple.
It’s all about trust! Do your research and you’ll save yourself a lot of money and frustration. I also strongly recommend this publication at my website www.advancediag.com [http://www.advancediag.com] It costs less than the price of and oil change and is filled with many more ways for you to prevent yourself from being ripped off or scammed. Plus some added bonuses included too!