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5 Secrets Car Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know

Finding a good car mechanic is like finding a good babysitter or hair stylist—once you’ve found them, you never want to let them go! But if you’re worried that you’re paying too much to get your car serviced, being over-charged for parts, or are paying for things you shouldn’t have to pay for, read on to avoid getting ripped off by your mechanic.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,

5 Secrets Car Mechanics Don't Want You to Know

Get Free Service!

Did you know that many chain auto-parts stores like Pep Boys and Advance Auto Parts will perform simple services for free? From finding out why your “check engine” light is on to aligning your tires or even loaning you tools to do car maintenance, the on-staff mechanics are also often willing to install parts you buy in-store, even if those particular services aren’t listed on their site. This can save you $20–30 or more in labor costs on windshield wipers, batteries, taillights, and other items. Be sure to ask about this service at the customer service counter or call ahead to make see if your local store participates.

Wait Till Monday

A mechanic friend (who shall remain nameless!) once confessed to us that he does his worst work on Fridays, because he tends to rush the job to get ready for the weekend. If it can wait, take your car in on Monday, when it will get the time it deserves. Better yet, if it’s work that can wait, ask your mechanic if you can leave your car with him while you’re on vacation. The mechanic can take all the time he needs to fix any recurring problems and give it a tune-up, so you know it will get special care. Most mechanics don’t mind keeping your car until you get back from your trip so that they can get more time to work on it!

Don’t Get Ripped Off on Parts

If you have a mechanic you trust, when she tells you she needs to get a new part for your car you can just ask her “how much?” and your worry ends there. But if you’re using an unfamiliar mechanic or one you suspect may be ripping you off you, if your car needs a replacement part you should ask for a brand-name part and ask to see the box it came in as proof. Knockoff parts are more prevalent than you might think, and some mechanics may try to pass them off as the real thing. You can also ask for the old (damaged) part back if you think your mechanic might be fixing it rather than replacing it, and charging you for an entirely new part.

Get Rid of Car Dents for Free

Believe it or not, there may be a way to remove that dent from the side of your car without spending a penny. Before you head to the mechanic, try this trick: rub petroleum jelly on the edge of a clean toilet plunger, then place it over the dent and pump it out just like you would a toilet clog! Your family will laugh at you until the dent pops out and you save a $300 trip to the mechanic!

The Cheap Way to Fix Nicks and Scratches

Here’s a tip that can save you big money on fixing nicks and scratches on your car. Instead of paying $100 or more for touch-up work at a detail shop, keep some touch-up paint around. Go to AutomotiveTouchup.com (or back to the dealership) with your car’s VIN number, and they can provide you with the exact paint match for much less. You can often get it in spray paint form, which is so easy to apply you won’t even be able to tell it was done in your driveway. (Plus, you’ll have the extra paint and the ready for the next time it gets an annoying scratch.) A cheaper, even lazier method? Grab your kid’s crayon box and pick the crayon that closely matches the color of your car. Fill in the nick with the crayon, and then buff gently. This works especially well with minor scratches!

For more tips to make sure you don’t get ripped off on car costs and easy ways to take care of your car, follow our Car Tips board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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