woman driving red car
By Brooke Showell
1. Do regular checkups. "If you're religious about preventive maintenance, it will save you thousands down the road in repairs," says Bogi Lateiner, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix and cohost of All Girls Garage on the Velocity Channel. Spend 5 minutes at the start of each month to check tire pressure, fluid levels, and for signs of cracking or rotting belts or hoses. Ask for a brake inspection when your car's in the shop for any repair. Schedule professional maintenance at suggested intervals. "Not doing a simple $30 oil change every 3,000 miles or so can cost you fuel efficiency, horsepower and, in the worst case, your engine," she says. Photo by: Getty
2. Come in on a midweek morning for speediest service. On Fridays, customers are racing to prepare their cars for weekend jaunts, says John Grimmett, owner of Al Grimmett & Sons Automobile Shop in Los Angeles. "Mondays are usually bad since shops are handling weekend breakdowns." For a shot at same-day turnaround, bring your car in as early as possible.
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3. Check out the shop before you commit. "If it's covered in grease, most likely they're not taking pride in their facility and won't take pride in your car," says Jeff Pittman, a former auto technician and education manager at Universal Technical Institute in Orlando, FL. Also check for Auto Service Excellence (ASE) certifications.
4. Insist on good replacement parts. "Ask what kind of parts they will put on your car," Pittman advises. "Are they from the manufacturer or are they aftermarket, meaning they come from places other than the car's manufacturer?" In general, though more expensive, manufacturer's parts are better quality. While generic replacements for minor items like lightbulbs or windshield wipers may be fine, says Lateiner, for everything else, "get as close as you can to the original equipment, especially with electronics," like a starter, sensors or control modules.
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5. Know what the warranty covers. Ask about the garage's guarantee on labor and parts, such as 12 months or 12,000 miles. If the shop is part of a group like AAA, other garages in the network will honor the warranty too, which gives you more options for the future.
6. Request a written estimate up front. The shop may quote you a price over the phone, but for more expensive repairs, ask for an estimate in writing. By law in most states, "if you don't approve work and they do it anyway, you don't have to pay for it," Lateiner says. "I'd be leery of a shop where you drop off the keys and aren't told what to expect when you return," says Pittman.
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7. Ask for your old parts back. Before work is done, tell the auto tech you will want the used parts. This shows you're paying attention and it will help ensure that the work is actually performed, says Lateiner. If a mechanic replaces belts, have him show you what was wrong with the old ones. (But remember that not all parts show visible signs of damage. For example, an alternator fails internally.) "Make a request to see parts while they're on the vehicle, too," she adds. "If a repair doesn't make sense to you, there's nothing wrong in asking, 'Can you show me and explain?' If the auto tech is hesitant or resistant, that may be a red flag."
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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