Auto Repair and Second Opinions

One of the most effective weapons against inflated automotive repair bills is the power to choose. Competition is the great equalizer for consumers. Although it appears to be inconvenient to move your car to a different repair center, it can be a wise choice in the right situation. Here we’ll discuss the when, where and how of seeking a second opinion.

Choosing the Auto Repair Center

In metropolitan areas, consumers will have many choices when it comes to automotive service. It’s the owner’s responsibility to remain vigilant by constantly evaluating their chosen shop is continuing to provide good service. These repair centers can change management, mechanics and even ownership without changing the sign out front. Families with many vehicles or those that put a lot of miles on their automobiles should always have a backup repair facility if not several.Establishing relationships with different vendors in the area can pay big dividends in emergency situations. Auto shop proprietors often describe the flow of business through their facilities as feast or famine, because they are either overloaded or have nothing to work on. You need a backup plan, so if one shop is unavailable to address your needs in a timely manner you know where to go and what to do. These backup shops are also excellent places to achieve second opinions when the primary shop provides a auto repair estimate that falls outside of expected parameters.

Signs it’s Time for a Second Opinion

I’ve stated in several articles that the auto repair shop has the right to make money. With that said, consumers have the right to pay a fair price for needed repairs. Often the advantage during negotiations is on the side of the business, especially those skilled in the art of selling automotive service. They can lay out large repair bills in a way that makes a consumer feel the only answer is yes or no. The reality is people have the right to understand what’s needed, review the estimate and seek a second opinion.A big red flag when reviewing an auto repair estimate is if a large amount of items aren’t related to the driver’s complaint. As an example, if the complaint is about overheating and the estimate includes a tire rotation and adjusting the rear brakes, this would be cause for hesitation. When an auto repair shop hard sells these unrelated items, it’s time to consider a second opinion. Another cause for concern is when parts seem high. Consumers can quickly check prices with a local AutoZone or equivalent to see if the shop is in the ballpark.

Shaky Automotive Diagnosis

When it comes to seeking a second opinion, the primary shops willingness to stand behind their diagnosis and estimate should play a large role in the decision making process. Auto repair isn’t always an exact science, but most often, pinpoint diagnosis can be performed. Individual testing of failed components can lead to solid conclusions of failure and an accurate estimate of repair. Some shops lack the expertise to get this done, but won’t admit it.When a facility provides an estimate with no guarantee it will fix the issue, the consumer should start asking some questions. The repair center will often say we need to replace this component and then go from there. Questions about the tests performed, research for technical service bulletins, the skill and education of the mechanic and whether or not they’re just guessing are all reasonable questions that can expose a shop that’s in over their head.

Empowering Automotive Consumers

All too often when I discuss auto repair situations with consumers, they say things to me like, I had no choice, or the shop had me over a barrel. Although it may appear there were no options, most often there are many. One of the things that make the car owner feel the pressure to say yes to the first estimate is the need for transportation. The competition in the car rental business has produced extremely reasonable prices in the subcompact and economy car rental market. Rentals can be as low as $25-$30 a day. The availability of inexpensive alternate transportation can relieve the pressure and allow consumers to make wise decisions. Receiving a second estimate and comparing the results with the first one can bring a lot of clarity to the situation.An educated automotive consumer is better equipped to manage their maintenance and deal with unexpected mechanical failures. Basic knowledge can go a long way, therefore, a full education is not required to achieve a lot of these benefits. Automotive technology books break down the automobile by systems. When consumers have a malfunction in a targeted area, research into how this system operates can also be targeted. Becoming an expert on a specific vehicle is a lot easier than learning about all cars. For more information about how this is accomplished review my article about recommended auto repair books and manuals.