Keep records of your car repairs with labor, parts, dates, mileage and who did it. don’t always rely on shop records. Make your own record book and look at the estimate and repair bill and if you don’t understand any thing on it call the shop to explain it to you as soon as possible.
Your records will keep you from having things done twice like transmission service or if your brakes are only lasting 6,000 miles maybe a caliper is sticking or a brake hose or line is stopping the fluid from returning.
Before you have any work done, ask how the shop prices its work. Some repair shops charge a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer’s estimate of time required to complete repairs. Others charge the actual time the technician worked on the repair.
Check your car yourself listen for noises make a note when you hear it. Dose it happen all the time or just when the car is cold or hot. When you hear the noise try turning the AC or heater on and off. Turn the steering wheel. Put the car in drive or push the clutch down. Did the noise change? If the noise happens when you are driving have someone help you listen to it. Does it happen while driving on certain types of roads, over bumps, up or down hills or when turning.
Describe the noise, what dose it sound like. Use descriptive things like, It sounds like someone is hammering nails every time I step on the brakes. If possible go on a test drive with the technician or service writer and point out the noise, this is the best way to pinpoint the problem. If you just tell them that there is a noise and don’t tell them when it happens, they may not hear it and they might charge you for checking your car.
You actually have a better chance of getting scammed by an auto repair shop because most people don’t know about how a car works. You most likely have paid for unneeded or misdiagnosed auto repair. Asking certain questions before you get your car worked on is the first step.
Some repair shops charge you for parts and never even place them in the car and other shops make the repair but do such a bad job that the customer has to bring the car back two or three times.
Here is a good example of a repair gone wrong. A customer asked me to look at his truck that he just had work done on it a few weeks ago. First he took the truck to his mechanic, the mechanic said he checked the car out and found that it needed a tune up. The mechanic changed the spark plugs and charged the customer $60.00. A week later the truck had the same problem again. The customer came to me and told me his story. He said that the truck would not start in the morning when it was cold. He said it started fine when it was warm or in the afternoon. I checked the truck out and tried to start after sitting overnight. The truck would not start. I did notice that there was a gasoline smell, it was coming from the tail pipe. I pulled a spark plug out and it was soaked with gas. I put the plug back in and did a fuel pressure test. A normal reading would be 47 psi but his was 80 psi. This is why I smelled gas when I tried to start the truck. This is why the truck would not start. The old spark plugs were still good and replaced because of a misdiagnosis.
I changed the fuel pressure regulator. After cranking the truck over with the fuel pump disabled (I pulled out the fuel pump relay) to clean out all the gas that was on the spark plugs I then plugged the fuel pump back in and it started up. I checked the fuel pressure it was 47 psi and no gas smell was coming from the truck now. I asked the customer if he told the mechanic that changed the spark plugs about the truck not starting when it was cold. He said no he just told him that the truck was hard to start. Now who`s fault was it that the spark plugs were changed for no reason? Was it the mechanic who didn`t know that the problem was happing only when the truck was cold or the customer for not telling him that it only happens when it`s cold. This is why you need to give details about any repair problems because if they check the car and don`t see the problem they may find something that looks bad but is not the problem that you brought the car in for.
Not knowing your car can cost you money. If your power window stops working on the passenger side of the car and you take it to the shop to get it fixed. If you did not read your owners manual there may be a switch that turns off all but the drivers window. The shop may find that you pushed the switch by mistake and did not know it and charge you for unneeded repairs.