Ask the Car Chasers: Don't get gouged at the garage
Get an Estimate
Always get an estimate from the shop before the mechanic begins any work, Souter says. It provides a good idea of the final cost, and helps guard against sticker shock once the bill arrives. Small issues could pop up that might add a little to the estimate, but the final tab should be pretty close to the quote.
If something unexpected does arise as the mechanic is fixing the car, another tip is to request that the shop contacts the owner to discuss the problem — and the cost to fix it — before doing the work. It gives the car's parent the opportunity to decide to move forward, or get a second opinion.
"I want to know ahead of time, 'Well, that needed that, but then I had to put this in to fix that,'" Souter said.
Finally, after an estimate is obtained, the driver can go online to check what others have paid in the past for similar work. That helps determine if they've gotten a fair deal.