Stories from my Past: Dealing with car repair

Stories from my Past: Dealing with car repair

Since I prefer to buy used cars I have dealt with car repair often. This is what I have learned.

  • If you don’t know anything about cars you will be taken advantage of. You don’t have to be a mechanic, but the more you know the more money you will save with mechanics. I don’t like to claim that service advisors are liars, but they are extremely ignorant. I have had very few service advisors who understand the basic theory of how a car works.
  • Ask the service advisor some basic car questions. You don’t need to test them, but rather just get a gauge on how you should talk to them. I have gone into detail and some service advisors didn’t understand what I said. They didn’t understand basic car details. I am not an expert, but I try to research and understand something before I go in for repairs.
  • Do your research before you talk to the service advisor. If you know what others are paying, and what the likely issues are, then you are prepared. When you go to a service advisor and know nothing as background you have no way to evaluate what you are told. Too often service advisors try to up-sell and suggest doing things that are not in the owners manual. I have never found a benefit to doing things more than the vendor suggests. If its not in the owners manual I don’t do it.
  • If the cost is large and a surprise expense, tell them you will think about it and only approve the things you came in for. This gives you time to research if you need to do it or not. For example I was told that my Lexus RX 2009 350 needed a timing belt change by two Lexus dealers. The truth is that the car has a timing chain which is metal and doesn’t need to be changed. So they were going to do something that wasn’t required. Another dealer said that I needed to change my transmission fluid. However Lexus webpage itself said that my engine didn’t need to have its transmission fluid changed, and they should have known that. These were all unnecessary work.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do the work. At times service advisors told me things that sounded plausible, but I didn’t feel comfortable with them. For some reason my intuition was telling me they weren’t being honest with me. I later researched it and found out that they were lying. Rarely are things urgent no matter what kind of lies they say. Sometimes they will claim that by law they can’t let you leave. This is often tried on something like a brake job. You always have the right to your property and call the police if this happens.

Doing this has saved me probably $10,000 in the past. Don’t forget to ask for goodwill repairs as well. Good luck!

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