Get a second opinion on car repairs
When it comes to home repairs, most people will get two or three estimates before choosing a contractor, and that same discipline should apply to your auto mechanic. Prices can vary dramatically from one shop to the next, which is why experts say it's important to shop around.
"Getting a second opinion is definitely worth it if it's a large repair," says HumbleMechanic.com's Sanville.
Sanville says to get estimates from repair shops, a dealership and a specialty place if you're replacing something like a transmission or brakes. In addition to shopping on price, you want to compare warranties and the quality of parts from the different mechanics.
In order to get an accurate estimate, you have to know what's wrong with the car. Many mechanics charge a diagnostic fee, so make sure to inquire about that when shopping around. Another option for figuring out what's wrong with your car is to purchase a diagnostic code reader. Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya at Santa Monica, Calif.-based Edmunds.com, says it costs $50, but some cost much more. It plugs into your car to diagnose when the check engine light is on.
"It will give you a basic idea of what the car needs," Montoya says.