Make the most of your time and repair money with these tips. Don’t let a visit to the repair shop put a dent in your wallet. Consider these six tips that will keep you on the road and leave some cash in your pocket.
- Stick to the owner’s manual recommendations. Take the plastic off that owner’s manual stuck in your glove box. Most manuals lay out a lifetime maintenance plan to keep your vehicle running reliably, explaining what needs to be done and when it should be done. Manuals also provide solid information to refer to before you get the car serviced. If you know what the manual recommends, that makes it harder for the service writer—who often needs to upsell the customer—to get you to buy more than you actually need.
- Get several quotes in writing. One quote is not enough. You’re going to want to get at least two. Use the internet and make calls to get quotes or go there in person. Make sure to get a written quote on large projects, so you know what you’re paying for before you take your vehicle in.
- Take a hands-on approach. Educate yourself about a needed repair beforehand. Don’t shy away from asking questions and read about what needs to be done too. Ask the service person if an Automotive Service Excellence-certified technician is working on your car. Also, ask to see the old parts and to see what work is being done. Never feel intimidated. A technician or service writer should be able to show you exactly what’s wrong and how they are going to repair it.
- Go “indie.” Find an independently owned service center or small chain that you’ll use routinely. If the vehicle isn’t under warranty, you’ll generally pay less there than at a dealership. In exchange for your loyalty, you may also get a few perks, such as preferred appointment times or a discount on routine oil changes.
- Get it done for free. If there’s been a recall or technical-service bulletin (TSB), your repair may be done free at a local dealership. Check the maker’s website or search the internet for recall and TSB notices before you book an appointment at a service center. Why pay for a repair that can be done at no charge? The dealer will cover recalls and some technical issues and may even include a loaner car.
- Don’t bother with engine or transmission flushes. These techniques are often recommended to clean up dirty engine oil or transmission fluid. They’re not worth the money. If you do the maintenance work recommended in your owner’s manual, you won’t need to do this.
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