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How to choose a great auto repair shop, part 5 of many

5. What you think things cost and what they actually cost.

You need something done. Something fixed. Something you don't normally need worked on. The general person has a cost vs. quality perception that gives them the *general* idea of what something is going to cost.... I'd say I'm pretty good at guessing the cost of something.... or at least get myself in the ballpark.

Then there are times where I'm either blown away or happily surprised verses the cost I thought it was going to be.

Here's an example just in our experience. Building signs. You see signs everywhere. Buildings, store fronts, billboards. Painted, acrylic, Vinyl, wood, plastic, lighted, neon.... the material and design goes on and on. We recently wanted to refresh the building and started at looking for a company to replace our signs. I had an "idea" of what it would run me.... well a guess actually. Boy, was I wrong! The idea I had in my head was approximate labor and materials. What I was getting for quotes were 3, 4, 5 times more than I expected. Thousands and thousands of dollars over our anticipated-in-my-mind budget. I was blown away!

This comes from a thought process that I feel most people can relate to. You see signs everywhere. EVERYWHERE! You'd think the amount of signs you run into on a daily basis would make them very affordable....or at least competitive......Well...... I have news for you lol...

The same goes with vehicle repair. People have an "idea" of what a shop should charge, what they think a repair should run..... but in reality it can be vastly different. Then the forums...oh those stinkin' forums. A complete stranger is saying a completely different price from another side of the country; and you think its an "apples to apples comparison" (it typically isn't). It can be frustrating, I understand. Especially if it was a recommended repair that finally wore out and now you have an ugly situation. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We had a recent vehicle come in for an oil service and a comprehensive inspection. We write down and prioritize everything a vehicle needs now and in the future. It's a fantastic road map on the upcoming repairs that will be needed to keep a car on the road, and conversely you off the side of it with a broken car.

Our priority recommendations were taken with a "ok, thanks I'll look into it".... 4 months later the car is towed into the shop and it has major engine troubles. The repair bill is easily 6 times the cost of that recommendation we previously discussed. The cost of repairs just went out the door, and reality sets in that this could be a major financial problem.

Put some trust into a shop that you feel comfortable with. Understand they want to give you the best repair possible and the most competitive price they can offer and still be profitable at the end of the day. Question your mechanic if you feel inclined to understand the repair bill better. If they can't explain it to you in a language you understand, make them! Perhaps they can offer you a repair vs. a replacement. Every once and a while they may find a way to help you out and get your car back on the road. At the end of the day, that's all we want to do. Get ya back on the road.

-Alex Noll

Owner, of ABR Houston.

Categories:

Automotive
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