Auto repair is something you cannot avoid if you own a vehicle. No matter how nicely you drive, regardless of dealership claims about low maintenance or efficiency, you will inevitably need to fix or replace parts at some. While there are many Orange County auto repair shops to choose from, you should be selective and develop a relationship with a mechanic that you trust.

The following tips on verifying your auto repair estimate will help you keep repair bills as low as possible:

Preventative Maintenance
The best way to keep your vehicle in top shape to minimize visits to auto repair shops is to practice preventative maintenance. Most modern cars and a lot of last century’s cars do not require frequent maintenance if you periodically change the oil and fluids, as well as check tires, spark plugs, the battery and other basic parts. Tune-ups can be helpful but the most important thing to keep in mind is that the main parts are not presenting any safety or wear and tear issues.

We no longer live in an age when diagnosing car problems is a big mystery, now that ASE licensed shops do diagnostic tests electronically. The problem, however, is that these tests can cost as much as $100 just to find out what’s wrong with your vehicle, which is why it’s a good idea to develop a relationship with an experienced auto mechanic who can give you a ballpark idea of repair costs before you go hunting around for auto repair shops. You should only pay for a diagnostic test once.

Do Your Own Research
The internet helps save time for many things, especially automotive repairs. Use Google to search “auto repair estimate” along with the name of your local area. You can also use Google, YouTube and Wikipedia to learn more about how cars work and to see what experts say about certain car parts and troubleshooting. The more you can articulate the problem yourself before getting a diagnostic test, the more able you are to inquire with different auto parts suppliers and repair shops about specific estimates.

Many repair shops will allow you to buy car parts yourself from wrecking yards, auto parts stores and wholesale dealers. You may also consider buying used parts online through eBay and Craigslist. But before you buy any parts, make sure you are certain that you know exactly what is wrong with the vehicle by getting a diagnostic test. Being almost right can still be expensive if you have to buy another part and many auto parts dealers sell used parts as is without allowing returns.
Once you buy your own parts, you will have won half the battle of price reduction. At that point labor costs, where additional big markups occur, become negotiable. Be aware that many shops only pay their mechanics $10 to $15 per hour, yet mark the labor cost up to $50 per hour or more, depending on the shop and the type of repair work involved.

Estimate Review Service
Some websites provide resources for getting car repair estimates at a low cost. You just have to fill out a review form that includes your vehicle description, upload a picture of your estimate and pay $10 then wait for a timely response. This service will give you a repair estimate so that you can make a comparison to make sure you are getting the right work done for the right price. This tool can potentially help you save hundreds of dollars on repair bills.