September 2015

Congratulations on buying a new car. Looking forward to sign up for that regular maintenance option to keep your vehicle in top shape? Not so fast.

Car dealerships are notoriously unpleasant places to be and for good reason. They make most of their money not on the sale of a vehicle but on servicing contracts. If you enlist your dealership to do routine check-ups and good car maintenance for you instead of going to a good independent mechanic, you are possibly throwing money away.

Dealerships are notorious for overcharging for simple procedures and tacking on unnecessary services and check-ups that are just not warranted. How many times have they overshot the estimate and just chalked it up to luck? Those are not accidental. The estimates might match what a local independent mechanic might quote, but once it’s time to hand over the keys, you find that they have made quite a fool out of you. And you have no choice but to comply for the sake of getting your car back so that you can go to work the next day.

Educate yourself

The more you know about your car and what it needs, the fewer opportunities anyone has to trick you into spending more money than you absolutely need to. Have a basic understanding of your vehicle and how it works and you are already ahead of 90% of clueless customers who have no choice but to blindly trust whatever the workshop tells them needs to be done. You won’t believe the white lies they spout simply in the hope that you won’t know what is what.

Do not be afraid to walk out

If you feel that a place is tricking you into spending more money than is warranted, remember that you have the legal right to withdraw your vehicle from the workshop, provided you release them from liability. Many people do not speak up simply because they do not want to deal with the additional hassle and paperwork. Even if you feel that the estimate quoted is on the high side, thank them for their time and walk out. You will be surprised how many times they will revise that number once they realize they risk losing your business altogether.

Work on it yourself

Do not be intimidated by the complex electronics and mechanicals on a modern car. More than 80% of the issues you will face over the life of your vehicle are ones that can be fixed with very simple tools and very little time. Learn the basics; ask questions on the myriad car forums on the internet. Most of the repair bill at a workshop is labor, and if you do the work yourself, all you pay for is the parts, which turns out be a surprisingly great deal for having to deal with dirty hands and some lost time.