5 ways to avoid overpaying for car repairs

3 ways to avoid car repair rip-offs
By Jean Chatzky

Are you getting ripped off on car repairs?
Are you getting ripped off on car repairs? © Hurst Photo/

People are holding onto their vehicles longer, which means a trip to the repair shop is bound to happen. The majority of mechanics aren't out to rip off consumers, but there are bad apples that try to get you to purchase extra services or "fix things" that aren't broken.

"There are some unscrupulous people out there who will go on fishing expeditions," says Barry Soltz, president of the Arlington Heights, Ill.-based trade group Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association. "It does happen occasionally."

Even though many mechanics are honest, the anxiety level among consumers when it comes to repairs is high. According to a March survey of 2,128 adults for, the San Francisco auto repair website found that 72 percent of consumers who own or lease a car said how much repairs will cost makes them anxious, while 38 percent worried that they cannot trust the mechanic.

"Auto repair often appears to be a mystical, secret service to people because they don't fully understand what their cars need and what they don't," says Michelle Naranjo, editor in chief of, the Irvine, Calif., automobile website.

But it doesn't have to be so worrisome. From reading your owner's manual to doing price comparison shopping, here's how to avoid overpaying for car repairs.

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