9 Things Mechanic Won’t Tell You

Of course, every one of us on this planet wants to protect ourselves from spending too much money or paying for unnecessary parts or services.

Today we make a list of the 9 things your mechanic won’t tell you, when it comes to car maintenance and repair.

1. Beware of the Upsell

You’re pulling into your local fast-service lube garage for a quick oil change.

But when you take your car into a fast-service lube garage, you’ll find that sometimes the customer representative or mechanic will try to push unnecessary services on you.

    At the top of the list are things like the following:

  • Air filter changes
  • Power steering
  • Coolant fluid flushes
  • Fuel system cleanings

These services are often suggested under the pretense that they are necessary when, in fact, your car might have thousands of miles left to drive before you start worrying about it.

2. Be Aware of the “Lifetime Mufflers”

Mufflers are rarely, if ever, able to last a lifetime of a car.

Sure, many places will sell you on a muffler under the promise that they will issue you a free replacement whenever it breaks down and therefore it is a “lifetime muffler.”

However, where they get you is by requiring you to come back to their store for replacements, which removes any chance of you shopping around for the best prices later.

Ultimately, you’ll still pay the shop for labor to install or repair the “lifetime” muffler, so they’ve just secured your business through the life of your vehicle.

3. There’s a Pricing Manual

Most mechanics do not set their own prices.

Instead, they rely on the prices outlined in industry trade manuals that dictate what hourly prices should be at a flat rate.

To make sure these charges are within a fair range, check Car Repair Estimator: https://www.consumerreports.org/cars/car-repair-assistant/

You can enter your year, make, model, repair needed and zip code.

You’ll then know if the estimate provided by your mechanic is competitive, or if you should shop around for a better price.

4. Brakes Don’t Need To Be Replaced As Often As You Think

You don’t need to replace your brakes by a set amount of miles.

Instead, you should ride out your brakes until they’re at least 90 percent worn.

When it’s time to replace brake pads? When you’re experiencing the following:

  • Your car pulls to one side when you hit the brakes
  • Your brake pedal goes all the way to the floor
  • Your brakes squeal, scrape, or grind when you apply them
  • Your brake light is lit on the dashboard
5. Let’s Talk Tires

Have you ever found yourself with one ruined tire, only to be talked into buying a set of four brand new tires?

Believe it or not, there is no need to replace all four tires at the same time.

The condition of the tires is really what should drive your decision to replace – not the current sale at the tire place.

6. You Need a Second Opinion

If there are multiple garages in your area, chances are they are competing to see who can offer the lowest price possible.

Some may even offer price matching or attempt to give you a better deal than the competition.

So, seek out a few estimates, especially for repairs that are typically higher priced.

7. Shop Around For Promo Deals

Many shops offer deals online and in the local newspaper. Check around and even ask at the garage what kind of promotions they offer.

This is especially true for standard maintenance items like oil changes or new tires.

Additionally, some services are offered with the purchase and can save you some money on the life of your vehicle if you plan on having it for years.

8. Never Sign a Blank Authorization Form

Keep in mind: in most states, accurate estimates with a small contingency (normally 10- or 15 percent) must be provided for authorization, and anything beyond the repairs listed require additional authorization from you before the work is complete.

However, there is always a chance you may run into someone who isn’t doing business on the up and up. So, be mindful and make sure you know exactly what work you are authorizing.

This will prevent any surprise charges when you pick up your car.

9. If There’s A Light on Your Dash, Don’t Panic

Many things can trigger a check engine light, the least severe being something as simple as a loose gas cap.

The best thing, in this case, is to visit an auto parts store and ask the associate to use an OBD2 scanner to diagnose the problem.