10 tips saving money and your nerves at the car repair shop
Going to the car repair shop for whatever reason is typically causing stress and almost always costs more than you expected. There are a few tips though that will help saving you quite a few Dollars and thus should help you spare your nerves for the other bad stuff life can throw into your way. And no, you do not have to know much about cars and car maintenance.
- Ask for your old parts back. Always, and I mean always, tell your service person that you want the old parts back. Especially hard to reach service and tune up parts sometimes get “forgotten” in the process and you end up paying for stuff that actually did not get done. For instance, if you have a 6 cylinder engine there had better be 6 spark plugs that all look alike when they are shown to you. It is just a good practice. Take a friend who knows about car repairs with you for the first few times if you are not comfortable or do not know what you are looking at. Ask for the old stuff back anyway.
- Shop online and browse for online solutions while you wait. This is my favorite money saver. When the service person tells you what you need to have done to your car check online for more information. Make good use of the service shop’s Wifi and browse for common problems and their fixes. Just ask for some time such that you can make up your mind. Shop for alternative parts solutions, e.g. tires are often more expensive at car dealerships. Get them elsewhere and let them be installed at a shop of your choice. Some parts like cabin air filters are so easy to replace and there are Youtube videos about how to do this that it is silly paying a lot of money at the shop for a tech to do this for you.
- Take care of the easy stuff yourself. Youtube and car forums are incredible resources for saving car maintenance and repair money. Changing wiper blades, air filter change, even rotating tires front to back, etc are not as daunting as you may think.
- Beware of cheap aftermarket parts. Sometimes spending the extra money on genuine parts IS the way to go. You may find yourself doing stuff all over again if you try saving money at the wrong end. You may have to pay for parts again if they fail or do not fit and this time you pay even more since you will pick the genuine parts this time (which you should have done in the first place).
- Click and save before going. The best money saver is of course saving before you even go to the shop in the first place. Make sure you check online for shops and dealerships in your area. Call them and get a quote for what you need to have done. It should be really very much self-evident which one you can go to in order to save money right off the bat.
- Generate a shop check list. This comes down which shop you can trust. Make sure you feel comfortable with your choice of a service outfit. This cheat sheet should contain some or all of the following criteria:
- You can actually get a written quote for everything.
- You can ask for and get the old parts back once the service is done.
- You are being treated nicely during the call and also at the shop.
- You do not hear a lot of wishy washy answers and explanations.
- You are being told up front what you can expect will happen during the service visit.
- Your tech does not take off with your vehicle inexplicably for doing service on your car.
- You are being greeted by the same folks and the mechanics are typically the same also. A good sign that the shop is a good one to work for.
- You are not facing one service issue after the other (a good hint that you need to change shops).
- You just feel comfortable with your decision to go to the shop of your choice. If you do not get that feeling, change places right away.
- Have a good rapport with your service writer. A good service writer is like how nurses know a lot more about your health than most doctors at the hospital. The same is true here. The mechanic may “operate” on your car, but how much you are going to pay and what options you have is typically up to the service writer (that is the person that writes up your service ticket). Having a good rapport will almost always make sure this will cost less.
- Asking for a ride to work does not hurt anyone. Unless you drive a luxury car, you will most likely not ride home or to work for free until your car is fixed. But most shops offer driving you where you need to go. Make good use of it.
- Schedule your state inspection smartly. Do NOT do this at the beginning or end of the month. Shops tend to be busy and you may have to either wait or it will be very difficult getting an appointment. Really important is that you do not schedule the inspection when your old one has already expired or is expected to do so within a few days. When you are out of time things tend to cost so much more when you have fewer options and you must make up your mind in a rush. That is never good.
Please make good use of the above tips. Much like anything in life, I learned these tricks of the trade through some really sour grape experiences. May you be able avoiding this altogether and save right away. Like what you read? Please pass the article on to friends of yours.