Repair Your Car On The CheapCar repairs cost money, sometimes a lot of it. We have all experienced getting a bill from a smiling mechanic and sprouted some new gray hairs when we saw what we owed. If repair costs have put you in a financial bind, you might benefit from some tips designed to keep dollars in your pocket.
Shop aroundShopping around is a given with the regular purchases we make in life, so why don't we do it with car repairs? Look closely at past invoices from different shops, and you might notice that the mechanic's labor costs more money than the new parts! If you can take your vehicle to various shops, then do it. Get estimates, and feel free to show those estimates wherever you go. Typically, local shops will always price-match their competitors, and if you're lucky, you'll even find places willing to beat them.
Being stuck with the disadvantage of having to tow your vehicle will make shopping around much harder. You're not completely out of luck, though! Get your car checked out at whatever shop it was towed to, ask the mechanics for a quote, and then call other locations asking about the same service. Not only does this give you the chance to find a shop willing to give you a lower price for the same work, but they'll also probably even pick up your vehicle without charge!
Local shops, not national chainsHumans are creatures of habit, and we frequent the same places. Most folks tend to use national chains, like Discount Tire, Jiffy Lube, Midas, and Pep Boys. These places are often excellent for small mechanical jobs and services, but they usually can't deliver the same level of service as many local mechanics. Local shops often have competitive prices and tend to get the job done right the first time. You're also more likely to be able to develop a friendly personal relationship with the boss at a local shop than at a national chain where mechanics come and go on a daily basis. Knowing the people in charge personally can be useful down the line!
Get educatedEmpower yourself by learning how your car works and what might be causing your issue. Mechanics love customers who have no idea what is wrong with their vehicle. If you seem clueless, don't be surprised if the mechanic bills you just to diagnose the problem, without actually fixing anything.
Before you know it, your mechanic is telling you that your onboard computer is having trouble relaying information between the Flux Capacitor and the main Warp Drive. This can be fixed only through the delicate process of deploying Nano-machines under the watchful eyes of an inter-dimensional witch-doctor, all of which just happens to be available, at a price.
We all know that knowledge is power, but many don't want to bother learning about cars or don't realize that they can save a lot of money by understanding what's under their hoods. If you confidently stroll into a shop and tell the folks working there what you believe your issue is, they will think twice about trying to sell you a bunch of services you don't need. If you can talk to them in their language and demonstrate knowledge, they are a lot less likely to try to rip you off. For instance, if you've taken your car into the shop for an oil change, don't let them sweet-talk (or scare) you into flushing all of the engine fluids. That's often an unnecessary service, costing you money without fixing any of your car's problems.
Don't forget to read the owner's manual! There's a wealth of knowledge right there.
Bring your parts to the partyBuying your parts won't work in all shops, but if you locate one that allows it, you can save big money. Repair shops sometimes slap on a very high price tag for parts that you could buy for less at your local auto-parts store. Check out locations such as Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, or O'Reilly. Along with auto parts, they also carry a wide array of car paints that can be color matched exactly to the make and model of your vehicles, making DIY bodywork a great option. Many manufacturers are starting to sell their products on Amazon. If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can get parts shipped quickly, and with free shipping! They even have a parts finder section.
Ask your chosen shop if you can bring your parts. Many will say yes, but they won't provide a warranty on the parts you buy. That doesn't matter because the manufacturer will provide one. Don't get mixed up, though. The mechanic should still offer a warranty on the service. Don't be afraid to go to another shop if not allowed to bring your parts. You'll find that local shops are more likely than big chains to install your parts for you.