Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Karen asks: I’m not a car girl and feel totally at the mercy of dealerships and mechanics. Do you have any advice to help me avoid getting ripped off?
My reply: I cover much of this in my book, Don’t Get Taken for a Ride – which I’m emailing you a copy of.
Your gut is almost as helpful as being a car girl – or guy. Does it sound fishy? What they are trying to sell you? Do you feel pressured by their pitch?
When it comes to repairs, perhaps the best way to avoid getting ripped off is to get the car repaired when you don’t have to – i.e., before it breaks down. Of course, sometimes this can’t be avoided. But often, it can – as by anticipating the need for required maintenance such as timing belt and fuel filter changes. If you let these “expire” and the car breaks down, now you’re in a pinch – and that puts on the pressure.
If you know you are going to need to have the timing belt, say, replaced at some point in the next six months, you have the luxury of time. To get several estimates; to visit shops and talk about the job with the mechanic. This will give you a much better feel for what’s fair – and sense of what’s not a gyp – than being in desperate need to get your car back on the road ASAP.
And once you find a shop that doesn’t gyp, you will have a resource at the ready for those breakdowns that just happen.
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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