There’s more than a few ways to keep your auto repair bill affordable when your car needs work. Discover your best options, along with the pros and cons of each.
Finding a good auto mechanic or repair shop can bring out all your worst trust issues. Is this a rip-off? Will they do a good job?
Here are some tips on finding an affordable and reliable auto repair shop, along with the pros and cons of each option.
1. Deal with the dealership
If your vehicle is new, still under warranty, or leased, get a quote from the dealership service department first.
Pro: Dealerships are eager to build long-term relationships with customers, even in the service department. If your vehicle is new, the dealership may be privy to “proprietary information” on your vehicle’s latest technology that regular repair shops won’t have. Plus, their technicians have been trained specifically to service your make of car.
Con: Dealership service departments often have higher hourly rates because of overhead, specialized tools, and training. If your car is older or not the same model, the technicians may take longer because they aren’t as familiar with the repair needs.
2. Ask a friend
Word of mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to finding an affordable auto mechanic.
Pro: Once someone has had a great auto repair experience, the news will spread. Ask your friends who they recommend and who to avoid. Post your request on Facebook or Twitter and see how much people love sharing their great and awful repair stories.
Con: If your friend’s recommendation turns out terrible for you, the friendship may also need to be repaired. There’s also the chance their single experience isn’t representative of the overall level of service with this mechanic.
3. Become a detective
Once you find a possible auto repair shop, Google the shop to see if there are any online reviews.
Pro: Organizations like CAA, APA and the Better Business Bureau are going to show you the good, bad, and ugly details about the shops you’re investigating.
Con: Individual online reviews may not be as reliable. It’s difficult to weed out actual negative experiences from hysterical whiners who complain about everything.
4. Check out the facilities
You’re choosing a doctor for your car, so make sure you’re taking your baby to a quality place. Is the waiting room grungy? The shop disorganized? The technicians certified?
Pro: Taking the time to physically visit potential shops will give you a better idea of the professionalism and likely skill level of the technicians.
Con: You can’t always judge a book by its cover. A fancy waiting room with leather couches, a flat-screen TV, and free coffee might make the wait comfy, but could also jack up the price.