Going to a automotive shop can be a very intimidating experience, especially if you do not know a lot about car repairs modifications etc. Always remember that even shops that are known to be “reputable” can see a rookie from a mile away, and will take advantage in any way they can. In some cases that may mean simply selling you something you don’t need, in others, its outright price gouging. The following tips will help you not only avoid these practices but get a better deal than you might have gotten otherwise.
If you haven’t already done so, visit a mechanic and have them write a detailed list of what work needs to be done. You might want to get the phone book and call around and the price for simply looking at your car can vary greatly. In the case of modifications determine which modifications you are looking to have done and do a little online research about parts, brands, and price estimates.
Once you know what needs to be done grab the phone book and start calling around to get price estimates. Make sure to ask questions like does that price include all labor and parts? Or is the price for parts only. Many shops will want you to bring you car in, as long as they aren’t charging you to look at your car there isn’t any harm in letting them look at your car. Make sure that they provide you with a written (printed) estimate and that somewhere on the estimate it says what parts specifically they will be installing and that labor is included in the price.
Once you have a number of estimates you now have the leverage you need to get a better deal on the work you need. Many mechanic/mod shops want your business, call them, or go in, tell them what price another shop has offered you. Many times, that shop will try to earn your business by beating the other shops prices. Look for the best bargain, at some point shops wont be able to beat the price, this is usually a good indication that they are giving you a fair price, the one you should have been offered from the beginning.
Get this price put in writing, make sure to read the fine print. Watch out for terms that say things like, at their discretion they can perform necessary work without asking. When you go in, get done what you planned on. This is critical when you are talking about modification, you go in for a truck bed cover, but you come out with siderails, truck bed liner and cold air intake because according to the salesman, you just couldn’t live without it. At a mechanic they may insist that a particular part is ‘close to going out’ and should be replaced. Just stick to your plan
Some other tips:
- Read the fine print, always read the fine print
- Avoid sales pitches
- Stick within your budget (maybe that part is only 15 dollars more but the big benefit for you buying the product is for the shop owner not your vehicle)
- Women should be warned that this process will be more difficult for you. AVOID acting dumb, even if you don’t know exactly what is being done, play smart, if you need belts and the guy is talking about replacing air conditioning components run the other way.
- If a shop ever does work that you did not agree to, or sign for you have the right to demand that they take out the parts