Find a Trustworthy Mechanic
If your car is leased or under warranty, the cost of repairs might not be something you worry about. But if you drive a used car and want to keep it in tip-top shape, you'll want to find an affordable, reliable mechanic. Find technicians certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence at asecert.org or 1-888-ASE-TEST. A "master technician" is certified to work on every part of a car, not only the brakes, for instance, or the steering.
Before you agree to any repairs, be sure to get an estimate. It should be free unless you're having a used car inspected before you buy it. Tell the mechanic that you'll pay for the repairs on the estimate, but ask him to call you first with a firm price for any additional fixes he wants to do. It's also a good idea to check in with the local dealer, even if you didn't buy your car there, every six months to a year to make sure there hasn't been a recall on your vehicle. "Call the service department, and ask if there has been a 'Technical Service Bulletin' within the last few months," Fix says. Sometimes independent mechanics don't know the problems of a certain model, but a dealer will fix them for free.