Mechanics spill the beans on repair costs

February 24, 2009 4:19:57 PM PST
Even with some great deals out there on new cars, many of us are hanging on to what we already own. MORE TIPS
- Ten Tips to Automotive Service

That means for some of us, we are learning about maintaining our cars for the first time.

It's no secret the key to keep your car running smoothly is to get it maintained regularly. But how much should that cost? And does it pay to shop around?

Anibal Zuniga needed a routine inspection on his 2000 Honda Accord, but when he got to the car shop, he found out it would cost him $400 to fix a leak so he could pass the inspection.

"I wasn't sure if that was about right so I just decided to check a few places," he said.

He brought his car to Upland Automotive. Mechanics found that same leak but quoted him $300 to fix it. That's a hundred dollar savings from his previous quote.

"The best way is to compare prices with other competitors," advised Jay Wilson with Upland Automotive.

Wilson says shopping around will save you hundreds of dollars but he says it's also important for car owners to know how much routine services should cost.

Wilson says an oil change should cost you $15- 20.
A four tire rotation is about $10.
While a four wheel alignment is about $60.
You should get your transmission serviced every 30,000 miles and that should cost about a $120.

"Get quotes before the repairs are done," Wilson suggested.

Wilson says to have the car shop break down the cost for parts and the cost for labor. That way you know exactly what you are paying for. Next experts say negotiate! Wilson says to either bring in a competitors price or ask to see if the car shop can get you cheaper parts.

"It's a lot easier in your pocket book," he said.

Finally, if you want to save hundreds of dollars on repairs, Shakil Sheikh, owner of Upland Automotive, says to avoid car dealership mechanics.

"Huge overhead and that's why they have to go back and charge you according to that," Sheikh said.

Sheikh says because overhead is high, repairs at the dealership could cost twice as much versus going to an independent auto shop.

"Any shop that has ASE certified technicians is capable of working on your car," he said.

See more auto tips on the Consumer Blog.

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