It is inevitable. At some point or another, no matter how lovingly you may dote on it, your car is going to need to receive some repair work. This can be anything as simple as a quick tune up to keep things in shape, to serious bodywork after a road accident. This means taking it in to be seen by a mechanic.
While some car owners take the point of learning how to maintain a car themselves as a matter of pride and independence, not everyone has the time, patience, or equipment. Thus most usually this means taking the car in to see a mechanic.
The problem with this, of course, is expense. Every trip to an auto-repair shop will take a little out of your pocket no matter how rudimentary the issue with the car is. To make matters worse, not every mechanic is entirely honest about the value of their work. While most are very honest and sincerely interested in giving you a good deal, you will encounter less scrupulous individuals who’ll try to squeeze a few extra dollars more out of you than the work is actually worth.
Other times, it is just a genuine mistake – the mechanic may have accidentally added an extra digit when calculating the bill or charged for a phantom service. Learning how to tell if a mechanic is overcharging allows you to prevent this from occurring, and can even assist you if you decide to take the matter to court if you think they were especially dishonest.
If you suspect a mechanic of overcharging, compare the prices of their services with nearby competitors and try to gauge an average pricing from them. There is a chance that the high price may be more related to the local economy rather than the integrity of the mechanic in question, after all. State and municipal taxes can often create variances in prices from place to place.
If that is the case, then you can just blame the taxman and leave it at that. In addition, you may find a cheaper garage somewhere close by.
Thanks to modern technology, it is entirely possible to compare prices online. As well as checking individual repair shop websites, assuming they have one, you can also make use of price comparison websites to help you find an average pricing in your area.
If the bill you’ve been given still seems very high in comparison to other auto repair stores, then you may have been overcharged. Of course, this tactic assumes that A) there are other repair shops nearby and B) you have the time and ability to check them out in the first place. If neither of those are the case, then you may want to consider another method.
Ask Past Customers
If you happen to know anyone who has used the mechanic’s services in the past, or at least a way to get in touch with them such as by a forum, then you can use that to see if the mechanic has a history of overcharging their customers. Everybody is on the lookout for shady dealers, and are subsequently very happy to point them out whenever they encounter one.
Ask Them to Show You Things
If the mechanic mentions that something is broken and needs repair, simply ask them to show you the item in question. A good mechanic will always take time to take you into the garage and show you the things that need repairing on your vehicle, even if they are a little tricky to spot or get to. Equally, they’ll be happy to explain why it needs fixing in the first place.
A lot of the time, though, anything that needs maintenance will be visible and easily spotted. Using this tactic will prevent dishonest mechanics from charging you for repairs that your car never needed in the first place.
Know Your Vehicle
Every good car owner should know their vehicle. By this, we mean you should be familiar with the layout of your vehicle’s inner workings and how it all fits together. This is very practical in two respects.
First, it may allow you to diagnose what’s wrong with your car if it breaks down to begin with, and maybe even allow you to attempt a repair yourself if you think you can, or else point it out to the mechanic to cut down diagnosis time. Second, it allows you to know if mechanics are overcharging you for a service that your car does not actually need.
Stand Your Ground
You should not ever be pressured into making purchases. Upselling is one thing, but if a mechanic is leaning heavily on you for a suspicious service or seems overly aggressive about adding additional charges, then you should not cave into pressure to pay for it. Also, be very careful with the phrase “Do whatever’s necessary”. That is an open invitation for dishonest mechanics to tack on all kinds of charges to your final bill.
The writer, Christian Mills, loves his car but sometimes has to turn to professionals, and on very rare occasions dealt with mechanics who tried to take him for a ride. That is why, for good, honest service he recommends visiting rayweatherspoonauto.com. You can learn more about Christian on Google+.