John Nielsen: Every vehicle requires periodic maintenance and repair, but no one wants to pay for unnecessary work or get over charged. If you don't have a trustworthy auto mechanic, or you need repairs away from home, use these tricks to spot repair scams.
When it comes to routine maintenance, service your vehicle according to the factory recommended schedule to avoid unneeded work. If you feel pressure to buy other services without a good explanation of the necessity, take your business elsewhere.
Pay attention to cost. Auto repair labor rates vary widely across the country and even within the same city. Now cheaper is not automatically better. But if you feel the shop is quoting an accessibly high labor rate, call a few other shops to determine if a less expensive repair is available.
Stop overcharges and their traps by always getting a written repair estimate. Insist the estimate clearly states what will be done and how much it'll cost before any work is begun. If the estimate says something vague like check for noise, request the work to be clarified before you approve it.
To avoid added charges, ask the shop to explain why each recommended part is needed. When you drop off your car for service, ask to inspect the old parts when the work is done to make sure the parts you pay for are actually installed.
Finally, as soon as you pick up your vehicle, take it for a short drive and confirm that all of your concerns have been addressed; if any problems remain, return to the shop immediately and make arrangements to have them addressed.
Remember, the best time to look for a quality repair shop is before you actually have an unexpected break down. Find a shop that you trust by taking your basic oil change and tire rotation to them. With these tips, you can prevent being taken for a ride the next time you need work done.