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Tip of the Day: I got ninety-nine problems and my car is one…

April 16, 2010

Well this can't be good...

Often times, cars break down at the worst possible moment. Like when you have negative twelve dollars in your bank account…

When choosing a mechanic, be smart. I’ve always been much too lazy to shop around, but recent events have caused me to reevaluate the way I operate. So learn from my mistakes (because God knows I probably won’t), and follow these rules to ensure you don’t get scammed with a capital S…

1. Get a written or printed estimate: This will include details on the cost of labor and parts for each repair. If nothing else, it gives you a visual rundown of how much everything will be.

2. Ask questions: The most important question to ask if you are low on funds is “What is the bare minimum I can do to keep my car running.” Reiterate you don’t need it to purr like a kitten, just to be able to get from point A to point B. If you are unfamiliar with the crazy mechanic mumbo jumbo, have them explain it to you. If it still doesn’t make sense, look it up. Be aware of what it is they are telling you needs to be done.

3. Ask them to run a computer diagnostics test: Computers don’t know how to lie…yet. Plus, the diagnostics test provides them with a code. Write this down. The code will be important in #4.

4. Shop around: You wouldn’t pay $5 for a beer if you could get it for $1 at another bar, right? Think of your car as the beer. With your estimate and code in hand, call other shops and explain what you need. Do not tell them what the other place is charging. It could effect their pricing in a way that will not benefit you. If you live in a college town, see if they offer a student discount. Ewers in Columbia (Mizzou-rah!) gives a 5% discount to all you Tigers.

5. Trust your gut: If something smells fishy- and you didn’t have tuna for lunch- there’s a chance that it is. If every time you take your car in to a shop the repairs are running you hundreds of dollars, be a little skeptical. Try taking it to another shop and having them run a diagnostics test. It will cost you around $40, but that is much less expensive and obnoxious than having unnecessary work done.

A tuna sammy smells fishy. Your repair quote should not.

6. Know your car’s value: Or at least a rough estimate. Continually pumping money into a 1998 Volkswagen is not the wisest of investments. Instead, take this as a heads-up that your car is about to bite the big one, and start saving. Ride ’till it dies, don’t waste your already limited funds.

Note: This post was inspired by a recent incident at an auto repair chain. They tried to scam Mark with a C out of $800. Someone should have told them he had an extremely beautiful and intelligent lady friend with access to a phone book and a dad. I don’t want to be a tattle tale, but the name of the shop sounded kind of like Schmustom Shcmautomotives.

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