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So your car is making an awful sound. What’s the first thing you think of? It’s usually not about the welfare of your car, but the welfare of your wallet. “Who can I take it to that won’t rip me off?” Well the answer is simple. All Automotive Repair workers MUST have a license and to obtain that license they have to have a minimum of 8000 hours experience before taking one final test. The license should be displayed in the repair shop somewhere, if you can’t see it, your car should not be there.

For a technician to obtain a Red Seal Endorsement, a percentage of 70 or higher is required. A Red Seal on the license allows technicians to travel across Canada and work without further testing in that field; it shows a baseline level of knowledge in the field.

Back to your wallet. New vehicles are covered under warranty and people get accustomed to just taking their vehicle to the dealer and only paying for routine maintenance that isn’t covered. Once their warranty is void, it makes people nervous. Everyone is under the impression that vehicle repair should cost a certain amount and no more. But it’s all relative. Your car’s engine may be easy to work on, or it may be a ^#(&! to work on most of the time. I say most of the time because they way they engineer some of these, changing a timing belt is easier than changing the spark plugs without the right tools and setup. No one questions their dentist bill when they get a filling; they pay the $700 to $1000 for a tiny piece of cavity filling material and then go about their day. Sometimes that procedure’s easy and sometimes it’s not for the dentist. But if your automotive technician says your bill will be $1000 people tend to dicker.

You need to understand that you’re paying for time AS WELL AS parts and overhead. But on the same hand, you can always resell the parts later on and recoup some of your investment. Because in the end that’s what your vehicle is, an investment. If you keep your car in good running order it can be resold for at least the minimum book value whereas you can’t sell your filling from the dentist to another person.

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Everyone has that one horrible story of the devil being in a pair of coveralls at your local car repair shop and not releasing your car to you until you pay a ridiculous amount and sign over your first born child. But it doesn’t have to be that way. BEFORE you have a problem with your vehicle, take an afternoon and talk to a few technicians from a few different shops. Smaller independent shops will usually be more than happy to have a technician speak with you instead of a secretary like the bigger chain retailers. Ask questions about what they charge for labour per hour, how many years experience they have and if they specialize in any particular area (i.e. Transmissions, exhaust, etc.).

In the end, car repairs are expensive. You can call around looking for the lowest price for your particular repair but it probably won’t differ too much from shop to shop. When your car is at stake, you get what you pay for.