Do you like saving money on car repairs? Of course you do. Everybody does. However, just because an auto repair shop offers you lower than average rates, that doesn't mean you will actually save money on the repair work.
There is an old saying - if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. That saying definitely applies to businesses offering low auto repair rates. All too often what looks like a good rate is actually just an indication the repairs will be substandard.
How Low is Too Low?
There is no perfect metric for determining if low auto repair rates are indicative of a scam. Repair shops offer lower rates for plenty of reasons. Maybe the owner of the shop is a Twins fan and offers a 25 percent discount any time the Twins win a game. It can be hard to follow the logic of some of the sales repair shops promote! Similarly, rates that are more than 50 percent lower than competitors are usually a warning sign, but plenty of shops may choose to have a brief sale with deeply discounted rates in order to drum up business.
A good rule of thumb is that rates more than 20 percent below the average competitor in the area and aren't due to a time limited sale or discount, should be considered suspect. This is especially true if the rate for only a single type of service is significantly lower than expected, because this suggests a potential bait and switch scam. Keep reading, I'll explain.
What Are the Dangers of Repair Shops with Low Prices
There are a variety of potential scams that a vehicle repair shop could be trying to pull on you. The best way to avoid these type of scams is to understand them and perform due diligence when researching for the best place to serve your vehicle. The following are the most common auto scams:
- Bait and Switch - With this scam, you bring your car to the repair shop for a specific service, usually one the shop offers cheaper than others (wheel alignment, brake replacement, etc.). While the shop has your car, the mechanics claim to have discovered other problems that need repair and either give you a misleading estimate on the cost or simply do the work without your permission. Either way you are stuck with a high bill, when you expected an inexpensive one.
- Inferior / Used Parts - One way that a repair shop can offer extremely low prices on services is by using inferior or used parts, without notifying you. For example, you think it is a great deal that you replaced all of your tires for $100, but don't realize that the tires are previously used. Inferior or used parts can result in you requiring much more expensive repairs in the near future when those parts fail.
The best way to protect yourself is to get car repairs from a trusted professional like Miller Auto & Marine, where you know you will get both competitive rates and top notch service. However, if you have trusted your car to a repair shop that doesn't have a spotless reputation, you can still protect yourself. The best way to avoid bait and switch tactics is to never authorize repairs without getting a second opinion.