Get an Estimate Before Paying for Car Repairs
While you have no control over accidents or the amount of damage that another driver might do to your vehicle, you do have control over how much it costs to repair your vehicle. Many people simply go to the shop their insurers recommend, pay the deductible and wait for the mechanics and body technicians to make the necessary repairs. If you want to avoid going through your insurance, which will raise your rates, you can pay for those repairs yourself. Getting an estimate gives you an idea of how much the job will cost.
Choosing a Mechanic
Choosing a mechanic is sometimes hard, especially if you never had auto work done in the past. There are two great ways you can find a mechanic you can trust. Ask your friends, family, coworkers and even neighbors about which shops they trust and which they would recommend. You can even ask them about how much they paid for their repairs. You can also find trustworthy auto mechanics and body shops online. Look at review sites that let customers post their own reviews. Those reviews will tell you whether the mechanic was honest, if the shop changed its price later or if customers were completely satisfied.
Negotiating for a Better Price
The estimate you receive is not the final price that you will pay. Mechanics use vehicle inspection software to create an estimate. This software lets them input the make and model of your car and the repair you need to get an idea of how much parts and labor will cost. Never take the first estimate that you get though. You can always negotiate for a better price. Ask about discounts for paying in cash, choosing used parts over new parts or if there are any coupons available that will drop the price.
Paying for Repairs
Though you are the one responsible for paying your repair bill, many shops can help you out. Instead of paying for the total cost upfront, you can put down a deposit before work starts and pay off the balance before picking it up. Other shops will work out payment plans with you that let you may multiple payments to pay off that balance. Always ask if the shop charges a fee for storing your car until you pay off the repair. Getting an estimate is just one step in repairing your car after an accident.