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Donít Let Your Mechanic Take You to the Cleaners



f you need to use your car on a daily basis, or you need your car to buy your basic food supplies, then finding a good mechanic is as important as finding a good surgeon. And just like finding a good surgeon is a difficult task, finding a good mechanic is not all that easy to do either. It requires research, word-of-mouth, and luck.

In the same vein, when youíre sick, you are desperate to find the one right doctor who can cure you. When your car is out of service, you may feel youíre at the mercy of your mechanic. You bite your fingernails to shreds as you wonder how experienced he or she may be. And how do you know that every repair is necessary, or being carried out honestly?

For starters, ask for recommendations from friends and family. Compare the warranty policy each mechanic offers. Check out the kind of certification each mechanic has. When you are in the shop, notice how are other customers are being treated. You are looking for a mechanic who will listen to you, who will consider the symptoms you are concerned about, and who will then explain what he plans to do in clear and understandable language.

You must get everything in writing. This includes estimates, work orders and the warranty policy. If a mechanic tells you he canít provide a written estimate, heís a charlatan and you should immediately take your car elsewhere. For major work, be sure to be quoted a maximum possible charge. Estimates should identify the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the anticipated labor charge. It is especially important that your estimate states that the shop will notify you if the work exceeds their quote, and will not commence that work until you give your approval. NEVER sign a blank work order ó itís the equivalent of handing over a signed blank check.

Request that old parts from the car be returned to you. If there is any question that the alternator was indeed broken or that a frayed belt has actually been replaced, you will have the part to verify this. This makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for a dishonest mechanic to rip you off.

When the work is completed, take the car for a test drive to verify the problem has been solved. Get a completed repair order describing the work done, listing each repair, parts supplied, the cost of each part, labor charges, and the vehicle's odometer reading when you brought the vehicle in as well as when the repair order was completed.

Keep all paperwork. Not only will you need it if the car is returned to the shop under warranty, but service records will help if you eventually re-sell your car, as many used car buyers request them.

The majority of auto mechanics are honest and competent businessmen and women. When you find a good mechanic that you ďclickĒ with, hang on to him. Express your satisfaction, and promise to recommend him to your friends and family. Treat your mechanic well, and your mechanic will treat your car well.

But if you feel you are dealing with a dishonest shop or mechanic, trust your instincts and find another one. Even if you have to pay to have your car towed elsewhere, itís a small price to pay to keep from being taken for a ride.


Also see

Your Car's Mechanical Condition

Rebuilt vs. Remanufactured Engines -Your engine has failed and must be replaced.  Which type do you choose?

Change Your Oil Once a Year or Every 35000 Miles! -learn about synthetic oil and it's advantages for you.

Glossary of Automotive Terms -from crankshaft to horsepower to spark plugs, find out what those auto terms mean!

Troubleshooting Basic Problems -a handy little checklist covering an area of potential problems.



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