Updated 04/03/2012 12:56 PM
The Car Coach: Saving at the Auto Shop
When you own a car, maintaining it is critical. Lauren Fix, the Car Coach, shows you some ways to save money at your auto shop.
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If you own a car you should also expect to repair and maintain it. Don't let a visit to the repair shop put a dent in your wallet. Make the most of your time and repair money with these tips. Consider these six tips:
1. Stick to the owner’s manual recommendations. Most manuals lay out a lifetime maintenance plan to keep your vehicle running reliably with minimal repairs and costs. The manual also provides solid information to refer to before you get your car serviced. It’s harder for the service writer to up-sell you when you’re properly informed.
2. Get several quotes in writing. One quote isn’t enough for big repairs, you want to get at least two. Make sure the quotes are documented so that you know what you’ve agreed to pay before the work begins.
3. Take a hands-on approach. Educate yourself about repairs beforehand. Don’t shy away from asking questions. Ask the service person—who should be Automotive Service Excellence certified—to show you the old parts and exactly what work is being done. Never feel intimidated! A technician should be able to show you exactly what’s wrong and explain how to repair it.
4. Go “indie.” Find an independently owned service center or a small chain that you’ll use routinely. In exchange for your loyalty, you may also get a few perks, such as preferred appointment times or a discount on routine oil changes.
5. Get it done for free. If there’s been a recall or technical-service bulletin (TSB), your repair may be done free at a local dealership. Check the automaker’s website for recall notices before you book an appointment at a service center. Why pay for a repair that can be done at no charge? The dealer will cover recalls and some technical issues.
6. Don’t bother with engine or transmission flushes. These techniques are often recommended to clean up dirty engine oil or transmission fluid but they can cause problems too, including a lack of engine lubrication and faulty shifting in a transmission. Don’t waste your money. If you keep up with the maintenance work recommended in your owner’s manual, you don’t need these procedures.
For more information, visit www.carcare.org.