Arming Ourselves to Save Money on Car Repairs
Compared to the frugalistic skills of many other personal finance bloggers, Mr. ToughMoneyLove is a rank amateur. On the other hand, I am not one to sit back and accept being taken advantage of by entire industries. Case in point: My complete disgust with the credit score industry, something I talk about often.
Another industry that is prone to unfairly extracting excessive amounts of cash from unsuspecting consumers is the car repair business. How many of us experience cold sweats and anxiety when the dealer “service adviser” (a/k/a the grim reaper ) calls to tell us how much of our emergency fund is going to be thrown at what we thought was a minor car repair? I still do, even after having experienced it going on 42 years.
The site is FairRepair.com. The premise is simple. The owners of this service have contracted with the largest provider of vehicle repair information in the U.S., i.e., those people who publish data that the car dealers and repair shops use to flat rate most repairs on your car. In addition, FairRepair has compiled data for standard billing rates for car repair facilities in your area.
When you access the site you enter in your car’s VIN (it’s easy to find, typically on your dashboard near the driver side windshield and/or on your vehicle registration) and then a description of the part on your car that needs to be replaced or repaired. FairRepair.com uses that info to access its database. The system then outputs a report that describes your car, the part and service needed, the fair retail price of the part, and an estimate of the hours needed to complete the repair. Using the average hourly service rate in your area, a complete repair estimate is generated in seconds.
You can use this estimate to select or negotiate with the facility that wants to fix your car. Some shops have arrangements with FairRepair.com to abide by its estimates. Some will even rebate the $9.95 cost of using the FairRepair.com service. (e.g., Pep Boys in our area) You can find those businesses using the FairRepair.com website also.
I am definitely going to use this next time I receive the dreaded high dollar estimate from the service adviser. Check it out yourself. Ten bucks is not much to spend to learn whether you are about to get ripped off – again – on another car repair.