The Top 10 Things Mechanics don't Want You to Know

Mechanics are generally a shady bunch. It is an industry that thrives in the dark. Very few mechanics actually promote open and transparent interaction with their customers. Think of how often you go into a shop and the price they originally quoted goes up by... $100? $200? 200%? Sound familiar? It is.

Americans waste 2 billion days and $90 billion dollars a year on car repair. That is equal to over 3 million years of savings for the average American. 3 MILLION YEARS - every year. It is a colossal waste of money.

So how do you avoid wasting your savings on car repair?

Here are the top 10 things that mechanics don't want you to know:

10) You can request parts back from the mechanic. They get around this because most parts have a core charge - in which case they don't have to give them back. However, you can still request to see the old part and to have them show you where/how it is broken.

9) You can always get your car towed out of a shop. Even if the work has started - it can often be cheaper to get competing quotes and pay the $65 (AAA will not typically tow from one shop to another) for towing than it is to get the repair done at a shop which overcharges you.

8) ASE Certification is on an individual basis. It is the closest thing the industry has to being accredited, but anyone (and I mean anyone) can call themselves a mechanic and work on your car. ASE tests are given in different subject matters - so someone can be "ASE Certified" but only for brakes... and he's telling you he's a transmission expert. See where I'm going with this?

7) It's not just mechanics either, shops are generally also not certified. Shops are generally meant to be licensed with the state, but a large percentage of them are not. You should ask to see their state certification if you are not sure.

6) They drive your car, a lot. Mechanics test drive all the time, but the less reputable shops this means you are getting charge "hours of labor" for going and picking up the groceries, getting a beer, or just driving fast around the neighborhood.

5) Most parts are available same day - usually within hours. If a mechanic is telling you that they are just waiting on the part - there is a 95% chance that they are lying to you. These days, you can order a part and get it delivered typically within a few hours. Even something very rare and dealer only you can usually get within one day. If your car is sitting for over a week while your mechanic is "waiting for parts" you are being had.

4) You can find out what parts cost! Most shops use either Advanced Auto Parts or Auto Zone for most of their parts. Take about 30-50% off retail pricing and you should have what the shop would pay for parts. Try to avoid paying more part than the retail price from one of these shops.

3) You can get competing quotes for your repair. Openbay.com is a new service which lets you get multiple quotes for a repair from pre-screened service providers.

2) There are websites which give you full estimates for the repair. The biggest of these are AutoMD and RepairPal - beware the estimates though. Sometimes they are significantly different from what the actual repair calls for, or they fail to include the price of parts etc.

1) Prices are always negotiable. And more than that, you can hire a negotiator! A new service called CarFixd lets you hire an ASE Certified mechanic to negotiate car repair for you. Otherwise you can always bring in someone you know and trust and you feel has a good handle on car repair (or maybe just a good negotiator).

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