If you’ve ever been hit with a bill for shockingly expensive car repairs, you’ll know there’s not a whole heck of a lot that you can do at that point – other than dig deep and pay for the damages so you can have your keys back. A lot of suspicious car owners cry “Ripoff!” at this, but the truth of the matter is, finding yourself in that position is most commonly the result of a few things; (1) not maintaining your vehicle according to the manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule, and (2) lack of communication with the shop performing the service. Here are just a few things that you can do to avoid finding yourself in that situation.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for the vehicle
In the vehicle’s owner manual you’ll find the recommended maintenance schedule. The schedule describes what to inspect and components to replace at each major mileage interval. Following this guideline will lead to reduced overall operating expenses and potentially eliminating expensive repair bills.
Ask for a diagnostic service
If the technician you’re communicating with doesn’t know the extent of your vehicle’s problems and unable to give you an accurate estimate, at very least ask for a diagnostic estimate. Some mechanics will offer this service for free. It’s always worth asking! When possible, find out if the mechanic can give you a “worst case scenario” estimate so you’ll at least have an idea of the extent of the financial bill if things don’t go as smoothly as you’re hoping they will.
Get a written price estimate
This is a no-brainer – at least it should be – but you’d be surprised at how many people automatically assume that the charges for a repair job won’t be too high to handle. Even if you’re only taking your car in for a routine oil change and the prices are posted on the wall for everyone to see, get the cost in writing and take a copy for yourself. After a diagnosis, the mechanic will likely be able to tell you the cost to expect.
Don’t give the mechanic free rein
Don’t authorize the mechanic to perform any additional work without getting your approval first. Far too many people take the “whatever it takes to fix it” approach and wind up having to fork over hundreds of dollars for something they thought would only run them a few twenties. Make it clear that you want to know the cost of everything ahead of time and make yourself available to answer the mechanic’s call if and when it comes.
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