Use the Internet to research prices
The Internet is an equalizer for many industries, and that's true of the auto repair industry. Before the Web, consumers had to accept the rate a mechanic was charging, but that is no longer the case. There are tons of websites dedicated to giving consumers the ability to compare prices from one mechanic to the next.
Take AutoMD. This website lets users get the prices for repairs from multiple repair shops using the same parts. According to Shane Evangelist, chief executive of U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc., and owner of AutoMD, the reason prices vary is because mechanics use different parts.
"It's very difficult for consumers to argue about the price if they don't know the part," Evangelist says. "This service uses the same part in every single shop so it's an apples-to-apples comparison." Other websites include RepairPal and AutoBytel's MyGarage. Online review sites are another way to get feedback from actual consumers who have used the repair shop.
One of the big problems with getting your car fixed is that you feel pressure to agree to whatever the mechanic is diagnosing because you don't want to be without your ride. But car experts say you need to step back and check on the Internet to ensure you are getting a fair price before moving forward.