How to avoid being ripped off with a service

You’ve probably heard the expression: I know how to drive my car, but I don’t need to know how it works.

Beyond changing a tyre, or perhaps jump starting your car, most of us don’t know a lot more about what goes on under the hood. And that puts us at a distinct disadvantage when we leave our cars with a mechanical technician for a service. Of course, most mechanics are professional and do the right thing, but there are always less scrupulous operators who will seek to profit from your lack of knowledge.

Servicing your car is a vital part of ownership. It’s an essential step to maintain the value of your car and because it can be expensive, especially for major services, you really should know what you’re spending your hard-earned cash on.

Here are our top tips to avoid being ripped off when you get your car serviced:

Being informed about what should be included in your service is a very simple way of ensuring you don’t spend on unnecessary items. Some people mark their spark plugs to ensure they are changed in accordance with the service, and this is a simple way to know that the technician has done what they’re supposed to.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge advice you’re given. If you’re not happy with the answers, go somewhere else.

When you leave your car with a mechanic to be serviced, you’re putting complete trust in the business. If you are concerned about the work being done on your car, you might consider a mobile mechanic. As they come to you, you can observe the work and ask questions in situ. This may be marginally more expensive, but there’s nowhere for your technician to hide in your driveway!

Dealers are known to tell customers the manufacturer’s warranty on their new car will be voided if they have their car serviced anywhere other than through the dealer’s service department. This is simply not true. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, “a manufacturer’s warranty is a promise to the consumer that the vehicle will be free from defects for a certain period of time” and further, “if the manufacturer’s warranty states that the vehicle can only be serviced by an authorised dealer, this may raise concerns under the Competition and Consumer Act.”. You are entitled to, and you should, shop around for whomever you’d like to service your car. Provided you have the car serviced by a licenced mechanic and to the specifications of the owner’s manual or warranty logbook.

Because you trust your mechanic to do the right thing, it’s advisable to approach a mechanic the way would any other service provider – ask your friends for recommendations, do your homework and even check out review sites. If you don’t like the person or their attitude, there’s likely someone better suited to you.

Michael Higgins is Director of HelloCars.

This article first appeared on Yahoo7