Auto repair quotes can be confusing. In many ways you're going to be fighting an uphill battle because cars are about as complex an organism as the people who service them. In order to start stacking the deck in your favor, you need to know who you're dealing with. When it comes to auto repair quotes, what's almost as important as asking the right qualifying questions is knowing what sort of person you're speaking to. We've been able to identify three major types when it comes to the auto repair professionals on the phone. Here's who they are and how to deal with them.
Auto Repair Quotes #1: The Low Baller
We've all been there before holding that coupon in our hands and thinking, "Wow, a $5 oil change? What could be wrong with that?"
The low price leaders will frequently present the possibility of very inexpensive service when the exact opposite is the case. In situations like this, you will want to be very, very careful.
Keep this rule in mind: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For example, if you need to get your engine repaired, and three out of four shops tell you that based on the info, you're looking at around $850 best case and $1350 worst case, and some other shop swoops in with, "We'll have you out the door for less than $650", well...
Something is wrong. Inhale deeply, because you will smell a rat.
Low ball auto repair quotes are simply tools for pulling unsuspecting drivers through the front door. In situations like this, these predators will almost always find something wrong with your car and the repair will explode to over double what you were expecting.
Frequently the business plan of a technician running this sort of shop reads like this: A Sucker Is Born Every Minute.
Avoid these shops like you would a stumbling, rotting zombie.
Auto Repair Quotes #2: Premium Powerhouse
Right next to the low price leaders in terms of completely confusing customers are the premium powerhouses. These are facilities run by total perfectionists who break out in hives if they have to let a car out of their garage in less than tip top shape.
These shops are fantastic at what they do, and they'll do everything possible to make sure your car is taken care of.
So what's the problem? In almost every case they are the "good shops looking bad" because they are completely out of touch with their customers.
Picture this: single working mother making less than $35K per year needs to get a brake job. Why would she care about premium parts? What's that extra $300 going to get her - less brake dust? Maybe an extra two months on the life of the pads? In a situation like this you do not need premium.
Another frequent problem is that these facilities have a very difficult time prioritizing a list of needed work. In most cases, they see the situation as everything needs to be fixed!
You will hear statements like, "It's really not in your best interest to leave this problem lying around right now"
I recommend using shops like this only if you really want that level of attention.
Premium Powerhouses are fantastic for car enthusiasts and anyone else who wants to get zero info on the phone, but have them chat your ear off when you drop off the car.
In almost every case, you will be treated extremely well and your car will run almost better than the day you bought it. But it'll cost you.
Auto Repair Quotes #3: Middle Mayhem
The last group of shops falls into the Middle Mayhem category. These guys represent the vast majority of facilities out there, and the reason I use the word 'mayhem' is because mayhem is exactly what they have created.
Shops like this will frequently be all over the place in terms of estimates, information, reasons they can't say anything over the phone, and just about everything else you can think of.
Be aware that the reason many of these facilities refuse to give solid info over the phone is because of the insane level of competition they have. Because of that, they like to play their cards close to their chest. (But don't worry, the good ones will share quality info.)
Auto Repair Quotes Golden Rule:
Middle Mayhem shops are the shops you want to focus most of your time calling. As you call more shops, you will become more comfortable weeding out the Low Ballers and Premium Powerhouses of your area.
While Middle Mayhem is the largest group of shops, you will want to pay special attention to how they are pricing their services. There are almost as many ways to price as there are shops to hand out estimates.
Above all else - If you do not make sure you're comparing apples to apples and not apples to hairless cats, you could be in for a rude awakening. Check and double check. If in doubt, call back. It is their job to help you out.