Taking your car in for an oil change always results in that dreaded phone call an hour later in which the mechanic tells you that your car is in awful shape and requires $500 worth of additional work. Then comes a lot of vague auto part references and mechanic jargon. Something about an alignment, system flush, hemi-adjustment, or your carburetor. Is this meant to confuse you into consenting to unnecessary services? Maybe. Here’s how to stay in the driver’s seat:

Before You Drop off Your Car At The Mechanic

  • Know your car: Based on the model and mileage, you should know what repairs are common and when. Do a little research to find out when tune-ups, alignments and new brakes are needed. Find out common issues with the make and model of your car so you can anticipate the repairs and budget for it.
  • Know your rights: No repair can be done without your consent so you are not responsible for a bill unless you specifically authorized the mechanic to perform the services.
  • Read your warranty: Know what repairs are covered by the warranty and be aware that dealerships will try to place blame on repairs that are not covered in order to make you pay the bill. The greatest one I’ve ever heard was the absolute conclusion that mice ate the wiring in the engine and therefore it was not covered by the warranty.

What Do When you Get the Call from the Mechanic

  • Get an Itemized Explanation: Ask to just have the oil change done today but request an invoice of what needs to be done with the car so you can review the invoice later on and compare pricing and get a second opinion.

Not all mechanics try to trick their customers into costly and unnecessary repairs but many will use pressure, coercion and your lack of car knowledge to have you pay for repairs that you don’t need. Be prepared and ready for their tricks and if it still goes wrong, you have access to Gadh – Lawyer in Your Pocket for $20/month, which is a heck of a lot less than your car repair bill.