You are not the only one. The auto repair industry, from dealerships to independent car mechanics, comprises a nearly $135 billion industry, and the independent side on its own has been growing at around 3.2% annually in recent years, according to market research data from IBISWorld. The industry is likely being strengthened by the increasing age of the average car on the road. In 2013, it was around 11.4 years. However, back in 1995, the average age of a car was around 8.4 years. Winter months contribute significantly to the industry’s boom because many expensive repairs are weather-related.
Despite these facts, most Americans do not seem to be all that happy with the quality — or cost — of the repair work that they need to have done on their vehicles. In fact, according to a survey from Consumer Reports in 2012, it was found that roughly 27% of people reported having some difficulty with their mechanic. This means nearly one out of every four customers is dissatisfied with their vehicle repairs. It is difficult to think of another industry that has a similarly bad reputation.
Looking for a Good Mechanic? Start by Asking Around or Searching Online
At the risk of being redundant, if you do not know a good mechanic, one of your friends, colleagues, or relatives likely does. In fact, it is likely that if you just mention that you are looking for a mechanic, someone can chime in with a recommendation of their favorite local repair shop. However, even if you are not offered any recommendations, sites like Yelp can help. You don’t want to end up kicking yourself for failing to read reviews in advance about a ridiculously overpriced place to bring your vehicle.
Why Has Your Repair Bill Become So High?
You are more than familiar with the drill. You bring your vehicle in for a quick $20 oil change, but you walk out paying another $200 for maintenance or repair items. The charges could be warranted, but industry pros say if there is one reason to be suspicious, it is this: at certain service places, the staff is paid partly on commission. This means that they have a strong incentive to find any and all extras.
Speaking of oil changes, it also pays to know why they may seem cheap. Repair shops will usually treat basic services, such as oil changes, tire rotations, or wheel alignments, as loss leaders to attract customers as a way to upsell extras.
Still, how does this information help you in the end? In some cases, it can lead to asking questions about chargers that would have otherwise been accepted as the basic cost of vehicle ownership. Regardless, some industry pros argue that the commission situation does not apply to all shops, especially independent repair shops, and that the industry is filled with honest mechanics.
There Is an Easy Way to Prevent Unnecessary Maintenance
All our vehicles come with an owner’s manual that usually just gathers dust in the glove box. It’s important to air it out every once in a while. Even better, let it become your guide when it comes to vehicle maintenance. That means you should follow what it says without feeling compelled to do more, especially if you are not planning on keeping the car for more than a few years. Mechanics will often suggest flushes, for brake lines, transmissions, etc., that are not listed in the manual’s advised maintenance. Sure, they may be okay for your car, but there can be a gap of at least some significant distance between what is nice and what is required.
It’s Best to Shop Around
You can shop around for the price of vehicle repairs just like you can for the price of buying a new car. To start, a per-hour labor rate may not be a valid measure because you are really shopping for the completed job, including parts needed to make the repair. Also, a more experienced mechanic or technician could take less time to get the job done. Plus, shopping certain basic services, like wheel alignment, may be useless because they are often priced artificially low so that the shop can upsell you with other extras. Ultimately, pros claim that your best way to gauge what you need should be a very specific, slightly less expensive repair, such as a front brake-pad replacement, that can serve as a guide to the shop’s overall pricing approach.
Of course, just because a shop is cheaper does not mean it is better. For instance, dealerships usually charge more than independent shops, but they may also have more technical knowledge or resources at their fingertips because they have a direct line to the manufacturer. Also, dealerships may be more willing to haggle on the price or work with you on a possible warranty-related problem because they are hoping to sell you another vehicle later on, according to experts in the industry. However, if pricing is your largest concern, it is also worth considering a newer option, namely, getting online quotes for your repair job from various mechanics and repair shops.
Lastly, if the price is not right for the work that needs to be done, there is usually a simple solution. Just try to speak to the owner of the shop. There have been times when customers were able to get their bill reduced on a few occasions just by voicing their dissatisfaction with the work performed and the price charged.
San Diego Auto Repair Shops
Automobile Repair Shop San Diego is a family-owned and operated business that has been providing the best repair experience. We will offer you hassle-free auto repairs starting with a precise damage assessment or estimate. We will tow your vehicle for FREE to our shop, organize for a rental car, and work directly with the insurance company to streamline the repair process. We will even pay up to $500 of your deductible. Contact us today to see how we can help.