Spending too much money on auto repairs has always been a concern for many. Before the internet, you were largely at the mercy of what repair shops would tell you. If the shop said you needed a new timing belt costing X amount of dollars to replace, then that’s generally what you did. Unless you wanted to go to the library and research do-it-yourself manuals, you had few alternatives.
- Fake It ‘til You Make It – This is an old trick from my dad, who knew a little about cars but liked to pretend he knew a lot. He’d walk into the garage with the manual in hand, passages highlighted with a yellow marker and a notebook. Thanks to the internet and YouTube, you can learn enough about cars and repair services to talk shop a little bit, or at least know the difference between the engine and the transmission. Talk intelligently enough about auto repair and you are less likely to get burned. Walk into the shop saying, something is wrong with my car and I don’t know anything about it, and you’re more likely to be overcharged.
- Research Costs – The internet has changed car buying and repair dramatically in recent years. With transparency being the expectation of the day, car dealerships and repair shops cannot easily overcharge customers. Take advantage of sites like Driver’s Side so you know the true cost of repairs in advance. These sites have done to car repair what TrueCar.com and Carfax.com have done for car buying. If you look up the cost of compressor replacement for automotive AC repair and it says $1200 but the shop tells you it will cost more than twice that, then there’s a problem.
- Chat and Lurk Online – Thanks to social media, review sites, and forums, everyone has a place to blast their opinions online. While you should take Yelp reviews and all social media comments with some perspective, you can gain some worthwhile information from these outlets. Lurk on AutomotiveForums.com to learn specifics about how to deal with problems for your make and model vehicle. By taking advice from do-it-yourself and car enthusiasts, you can learn a lot. One bad review on Yelp may be subjective but it might be advisable to avoid any auto repair shop with a one-star rating that is universally hammered.