When you get car repair estimates, unfortunately, there are many shops that’ll try and take advantage of you. If you don’t know much about cars, it’s not uncommon to end up paying upwards of $100 extra.
That amount of money is no small matter. It can easily pay some bills off! If you want to avoid getting ripped off, you should take some of the following points into consideration.
Know When They’re Trying to Scam You
Shady auto shops have a few techniques up their sleeves which they’ll use to get away with overcharging you.
Typically, they’re looking for customers who don’t know very much about cars. They’ll ask a few probing questions in order to establish just how much you know. If you don’t know the first thing about cars, they’ll probably add hundreds of dollars onto your bill.
They might ask you questions like how many cylinders does your engine have, or what weight of oil your car takes. Of course, they know exactly what the answers are to these questions. They’re simply testing you to see if you know.
If you can’t answer these questions, it suggests you don’t know much about cars and can therefore be scammed with impunity. You can try and learn some basic facts about your car and the engine before you go into the shop, but unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to fake knowing what you’re talking about.
Of course, a solution is to learn a bit more about cars. But if you’ve just been involved in an auto accident, you probably don’t have time. So maybe you can try the next tip.
Bring Someone Who’s Knowledgeable About Cars
If you don’t know very much about cars, you should consider bringing someone along who does. Simply having a friend or family member who knows what they’re talking about tag along could save you hundreds of dollars.
Have your friend talk with the mechanics on your behalf and they’ll know you’re not someone who can be deceived. If you have an uncle who’s crazy about cars, now’s the time to give him a call.
Get Written Estimates
If you don’t have much knowledge about cars and can’t enlist the help of someone who does, there are other methods you can use to get a good price.
One sure way to get a good deal is to play different auto shops against each other by using written quotes. Shops will often have rivalries going with the other garages nearby, and they can’t stand to lose a customer to the competition.
If you show up to an auto shop with a written quote from another shop a few blocks away, they’ll most likely offer you a better price. You could just leave it there, or you could then take that estimate back to the original auto shop.
Depending on how good of a negotiator you are and how lucky you get, you can keep this strategy going for a while. Eventually, the mechanics will tire of your antics and refuse to go any lower. By this point, you’ll have hopefully knocked a few hundred dollars off of the price.
Negotiate Before, Not After
One of the worst things to do when you’re trying to negotiate the price is to try and do it after the work’s already been completed. Always agree on how much the work’s going to cost from the very beginning.
In some cases, the auto shop might try to avoid telling you how much the repairs are going to be until after they’re completed. If this happens, they’re probably going to try and overcharge you.
The best thing to do is to agree to the price beforehand. Get the estimate in writing as well, so the garage can’t try to claim a different price was agreed on.
There’s no point trying to argue about the price once the work’s already been completed. Once you’ve agreed to the costs and the repairs have been made, the garage is never going to budge.
In some cases, a mechanic might inform you they don’t have the authority to lower the price for you. If this happens, you should insist on speaking to someone who has that power.
They might respond by telling you that person isn’t around. If they refuse to introduce you to this person or let you talk to them on the phone, suggest that you’ll be taking your business elsewhere. Sometimes, this will lead them to magically realize the person you need to talk to is in the back.
Know the Different Types of Shops
The key to negotiating an auto repair estimate is knowing exactly what kind of shop you’re in.
There are three different types of repair shops: dealerships, franchises, and independent shops. Generally, the mechanics working at an independent shop have much more authority to lower the price for you.
On the other hand, dealerships and franchises have a much more “top-down” management style. In some cases, the prices at these locations will be set in stone and there’s nothing the mechanics can do about it.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because a mechanic says they can’t adjust the price, they’re trying to scam you. Sometimes, the mechanics are like the cashiers at Walmart. They just work there and they have no influence over the prices.
Make Use of the Internet
These days, it’s more difficult for mechanics to blatantly lie to you. This is partly because most people have access to the internet on their phones.
If you suspect you’re being lied to or overcharged, don’t be afraid to fact check on your phone. There are plenty of resources available that can help prevent scams. For example, this guide is a great resource if you’re looking to buy auto parts.
Don’t Get Scammed on Your Car Repair Estimates
Ideally, you should have a reasonable amount of auto knowledge when you step into a shop. If you can’t even talk about the basics of your car, mechanics may try to exploit your ignorance and scam you.
The key to getting a good price on your car repair estimates is to shop around. You shouldn’t necessarily go with the first quote you get. Remember that garages are quite competitive and will often undercut each other if you bring a quote from a rival.
Is your car beyond repair? Then here’s some tips on purchasing a new one.