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Car Repairs – Don’t Get Ripped Off

Along with a general lack of faith in the honesty of used car salesmen, consumers have a widespread distrust of the auto repair industry, and they feel anxious about trusting mechanics. Kind of the same level of anxiety you’d have by driving without car insurance.

According to results from auto information website RepairPal’s Second Annual Car Care survey, many consumers believe mechanics are scamming them on car repairs.

• Over half of consumers (52 percent) still believe they’ve been ripped off at an auto repair shop.
• 61 percent believe mechanics perform more unnecessary repairs for women than men.
• 68 percent feel the costs associated with repairs and finding an honest mechanic are what they hate most about taking their car to a repair shop.
• Over half of those surveyed (56 percent) say they conduct research on suggested repairs before agreeing to recommended services.

So how can you best protect yourself from being ripped off at your next visit to a mechanic? Read on.

Keep the following in mind when considering car repairs and maintenance:

1. Check for the mechanic’s certifications.
o ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) or AAA (America Automobile Association) certification offers proof of proof of their technical knowledge.

2. Never sign a blank authorization form.
o Always get a signed work order with a specific estimate for each job and warranties that apply.

3. Look for a clean, well-maintained garage.
o Pride in the work space means pride in their work

4. Use synthetic motor oil.
o Although it costs more, you’ll get a lot more miles between changes.

5. Don’t waste money on these unnecessary items:
o Power steering, coolant or transmission flushes

6. Don’t waste money on cleaning fuel injectors.
o There are additives on the market that do a great job for under $10.

7. Don’t go for the cheap brake job – always ask for original equipment brake pads or at least equivalent material.
o A $59.95 brake job uses the cheapest material – it’s not where you want to skimp on quality when your safety is at risk.

8. Ask about your new tire’s “build date.”
o Tire life doesn’t have expiration dates set in stone, but because rubber begins to crack and deteriorate over time, most experts suggest that eight years is the maximum safe life expectancy of a tire
o The U.S Department of Transportation requires that all tires manufactured since 2000 have serial numbers, to identify their age. Using the last four digits, the first two numbers will identify the week and last two the year. For example, a serial number ending in 2910 tells you the tires were made during the 29th week of 2010.

9. Forget “Lifetime mufflers”
o They will cost you more in the long run with expensive pipe repairs.

10. Catalytic converter or emissions parts repairs
o Check with your dealer first; you may be covered by a long warranty for a free replacement.

And if you have an extended car warranty, check your liability limits. Like having good car insurance, it pays to know what’s covered.

Have you felt you were ever ripped off by a mechanic? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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