Don’t Dread Auto Repair Estimates

If you are one of those who hates the idea of taking your vehicle to a garage to ask for an estimate for a car repair or other work, you are not alone. On some surveys, this concern comes up as a major source of frustration for most of us.

First, we hate the whole idea of an estimate because most of us have had the experience of a simple, inexpensive job evolving suddenly into a massive one that costs far more than we expected. Second, even when we do ask questions, the answers we get may mean nothing to us. A large percentage of Americans, for example, do not understand how much of the operation of every vehicle is tied to the onboard computer today. Anyone over the age of 25 remembers owning at least one car or truck they had which had no computer.

We also too often come away with the feeling that we really don’t know what is wrong with the vehicle. We also feel like we have the guess or take on faith that the car repairs the mechanic says we need are indeed what will make it operate better. Finally, we worry like crazy that we’ll get a low estimate and then get hit with a huge bill.

Take heart, however. Many states and some communities have laws today that protect you as a consumer with regard to car repair. In some states, a garage cannot tender an estimate for one amount and a bill that is dramatically different without the express permission – often in writing – of the auto owner. If you are not sure whether your community or state has such laws, visit your state or community Web site or call the Secretary of State whose number is usually listed in either the white or state pages of your phone book.

But you also need the right attitude. For too many of us, we enter a mechanic shop either in dread fear or ready to do battle. Neither of these is necessarily helpful to learning what we need to know or asking the correct questions to get the answers we also need. The former makes it more likely a less than reputable garage will take advantage, while the former often ends up with both sides – you and the mechanic – on the offensive.

Today, with so many good resources on the Web, such as, you have many ways to learn more about the mechanics and operation of vehicles in general. You can also use them to learn about your make and model specifically.

For example, when I faced a major repair recently with my Suzuki sports utility vehicle (SUV), I was able to dig up some needed information from the Web about the repair as well as order a Haynes manual that diagrammed everything from the engine forward. It made a huge difference in some of the car repairs I could make myself, and gave me the information I needed to talk with a mechanic about my SUV?s special needs and issues. The results were more than worth the 20-30 minutes of my time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × = two