How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Your Local Mechanic Part 2
The advertising images of babies in car seats sums up where most people go wrong in buying tires. The guilt trip persuades us to buy more than we need. Real as these fears are, however, they are no reason to overpay. Nowadays, tires are so good that even moderately priced models last 40,000 miles or more. Instead of buying top-of-the-line Michelins, which can cost more than $250 apiece for a full sized car, check out brands such as Kelly Springfield, which are made by a Goodyear subsidiary and could easily cut the tab by a third. Ask yourself: Do I drive like Lewis Hamilton? And am I really going to own this car for the 80,000 miles that these top-grade Michelins are guaranteed to last?
While in the tire store, remain on guard against being talked into new struts and other items. Favorite sales ploys include suggestions that your wheel will fall off or your steering will go out if you don't spend hundreds on front-end work.
Oil & Filter
Take the simplest of tasks: the oil and filter change. Many car makers recommend one at regular 7,500-mile intervals. But most mechanics will tell you to do it every 3,000 miles. Some independent experts advise 5,000 miles or twice a year. Not even the American Automobile Association speaks with one voice on the question. Its engineers recommend 3,000 miles, while a recent article in the AAA's Car & Travel magazine criticized mechanics who do more than the manufacturer suggests.
The problem with cheap oil changed is that parts and services may be added to your bill once you're in the shop. Watch out for ads for oil and oil filter changes at cut rates. When the customers got there, they find they are also charged environmental and disposal fees. This demonstrates the problem with cheap oil changes: Parts and services may be added to your bill once you're in the shop.
Your car is starting to sound like those Warthog bombers that were used during the Gulf War. It's a pretty good indication that it's time to change the muffler. However, it's pretty common that it's not just a muffler that your car needs. Chances are you'll need to replace other parts as well, such as tail pipes, exhaust pipes, hangers and clamps. Or so your mechanic says.
In its investigation, the New York attorney general's office found that only one in 20 consumers paid the advertised muffler price at muffler shops. On average, they paid four times the advertised rate. One unlucky Long Islander paid $266.80 for muffler repair at a Midas shop that was advertising $24.95 for a muffler, installed.
Because it's hard to know what your car will need before it's in the shop it's best to go in for an estimate and then shop for the best price. Look at what needs replacing. Are those pipes connecting the muffler flaking and bubbling on the surface? Can they be crushed with a pair of pliers? If so, you're ready for new ones. But if they hold up to the pliers and show only a light, rusty powdered coating, then you're being had.