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What to know when you need car repairs

Learn how to find a reliable mechanic and how to determine what jobs you need done.

Spot auto repair fraud

Some of us may not know very much about what goes on under the hoods of our vehicles. That's why relying on an experienced, trustworthy mechanic is key for regular upkeep and maintenance. Make sure you know when a mechanic is taking good care of your vehicle, not just taking your money.

Common Auto Repair Ploys

If you hear one of these from a mechanic, pay close attention:

  • 'Your air filter is dirty.' If your mechanic shows you a filthy air filter during your next visit, make sure that filter actually belongs to your vehicle. Know what yours looks like in its current condition and its usual replacement schedule - typically every 30,000 miles or three years, or according to your owner's manual.
  • 'Your vehicle needs synthetic oil.' While synthetic oil may last longer than its conventional counterpart, it's typically double the cost, and you may not notice much difference in how your vehicle performs. Before scheduling regular vehicle maintenance, read your owner's manual to know what kind of oil is required.
  • 'You need additional repairs.' If you take your vehicle in for one low-cost service such as an oil change, your shop may try to persuade you to get additional, unnecessary repairs. Avoid this by keeping a record in your glove box that tells you what work has recently been done, or what your owner's manual recommends for regularly scheduled maintenance.

Protect Your Wallet

Take the following steps to protect against auto repair problems:

  • Check local review sites to see what other customers have said about a shop.
  • Ask for a written estimate before authorizing vehicle repairs.
  • Consider a second opinion from a different mechanic.

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