Knowing your car's service needs could save thousands of dollars - AmericaNowNews.com

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Knowing your car's service needs could save thousands of dollars in repairs

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The most frequent complaint the Better Business Bureau receives is from consumers who feel they were ripped off by an independent or automobile dealership repair shop.

In fact, the BBB reports it receives more than 14,000 of these complaints annually, and that's why you need to know about the common repairs customers are urged to pay for they may not really need.

When Jim Ringley needs work performed on his vehicles, there's only one place he goes – an independent mechanic he trusts.

"I choose not to go to a dealer just because of the experiences I've had," Ringley said.

Years ago, his wife's car malfunctioned and he took it to an independent mechanic. Then, he went to his local automobile dealership to see how much they would have charged to perform the same service work.

"I didn't tell them how much I paid for it, and I looked at the difference between the two and I said, ‘That's it, I'm done with dealers, no more!'" he said.

Ringley thinks automobile dealership repair shops simply charge too much.

For more than 20 years, Ken Collins worked in the service department at an automobile dealership where he supervised a team of service advisors. He says a service advisor is basically a salesperson paid on commission.

"You might get $3 for every oil filter you sell. Well, if you sell 60 air filters in a month, that's $180 dollars to the technician. If he sells 60 fuel injections, that's another $180," Collins said. "All of that adds up at the end of the month and it adds up in the shop's pocketbook and the technician's pocketbook."

Collins says he is amazed by the number of customers who have no clue as to what services their vehicles really need.

"They are so trusting and if someone is in the back that is unscrupulous or a bad technician, it is so easy to rip that person off," Collins said.

One of the best ways to avoid being ripped off is by knowing the difference between a manufacturer and a dealer's recommended service schedule.

The manufacturer's schedule lists preventive maintenance your car really needs, and the dealer's schedule, according to Collins, lists additional services that aren't always needed.

"A lot of this service work is to basically build a goal, or you could call it a quota, increase business or increase revenue," Collins said.

Here are four automotive services most car owners could probably pass on or opt not to have performed as frequently as recommended.

An air filter has a much longer life span than vehicle owners are led to believe. Collins says most filters in newer model vehicles are good for 90,000 miles or more.

"The shops will put it on every 15,000 miles if you allow it," Collins said.

Fuel injection cleanings are probably a waste of money unless you own a high line car, he says.

"The vehicles that I drive, there are no recommendations from the manufacturer," and Collins added, "If I were to follow the shop that I take my vehicle to, I would clean those fuel injections every 15,000 miles."

Over time, that's a lot of money you could be paying out of pocket unnecessarily.

"In a 60,000-mile interval, that's four fuel injection cleanings I didn't need, that's $400 I didn't need, probably didn't need to spend," Collins said.

Car alignments are another type of service customers are encouraged to pay for they may not need.

They can easily set you back $100 or more. Before agreeing to have the work done, ask the service advisor to prove why your vehicle needs it.

"Take me out to my car and show me my tires. It doesn't take a very savvy person or expert to look at a tire and see that all of the grooves are wearing perfectly the same across the tire, or if I do have abnormal wear in an area," Collins advised.

If you have a small sticker in the top left-hand corner of your windshield reminding you when your next oil change is due, check your owner's manual before taking your car in for its next recommended oil change.

Many car dealers will automatically recommend your next oil change in 5,000 miles, but a quick check in your owner's manual may reveal that oil changes on your car are only needed at 10,000 mile intervals.

"These are all the little things repair shops are trying to tack onto repair orders to increase their revenues," Collins said.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) says car owners need to be careful because what may seem cheaper at first may not be if a faulty part causes a repair failure. NADA goes on to state with the proper training, tools and parts, new car dealerships are the best place to get vehicles fixed right the first time.

As for Ringley, he's determined to go to an independent mechanic he trusts because he's convinced they have saved him lots of money.

"We're talking thousands—not $400-$500—we're talking thousands," he said.

One last tip, regardless of what type of service your vehicle needs, get an estimate for the repair cost up front. If you aren't satisfied with the price, go to another dealership or an independent shop to see what they will charge to perform the same service work.

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