Price isn't a very reliable way to tell if a mechanic is honest. If that's all it took, a crook could be the most reputable guy in town. If something's too good to be true, it probably is, unless of course if it's a mechanic. Then if they have to charge enough to pay all the taxes, insurances, wages, and government regulations, we call them "dishonest". In my area we have a lot of shops well-known to be reputable and they have the highest hourly rates. They also employ the best mechanics who get the job done faster so they have to charge for fewer hours. I sent a lot of students to those shops.
We also have three new-car dealerships, all owned by the same fellow, known for counties around to be a major crook. We hear all the time "never again" from his former customers. His hourly rate is among the lowest in the area, even among small independent shops, but you are guaranteed to leave with a bill much larger than expected.
If you want to determine if your guy is reputable, look at how busy the shop is, and if they have the time, do they show you what is needed and explain why? There's more than hanging on new parts and handing you a bill. Good shops know what their expertise is worth and aren't afraid to charge for it, ... Just like any other profession. After taking the time to do a thorough inspection, they should be able to give you a pretty close estimate on cost, (in most cases), before beginning the repairs; and the final bill should not surprise you.
Also, standard repair procedures such as brake jobs are listed in the "flat rate guide". That spells out the number of hours each procedure should take. Most shops charge according to that so the only variables are their hourly rate and any additional services they feel are necessary to assure the quality of the repair. This is how many different body shops can come up with almost identical costs to repair a smashed car when all they did was look at it. In your case you can get the cheap brake job that gets you back on the road or the expensive brake job that keeps you on the road longer or with less noises or other related complications. The cheap brake job is usually not the best value.
You wouldn't compare prices on dresses from K Mart and a fancy dress store. They both do the same thing. You can buy $100.00 tires for your car or $200.00 tires. Obviously the guy with the $200.00 tires is ripping you off, ... At least according to your measure of "honest". Instead of letting cost be the sole determining factor in your opinion of a shop, look at how you are treated, how well repairs, costs, and alternative or optional services are explained, and how they will handle minor followup complaints. Some shops only use the highest cost new parts because of their perceived higher quality or better warranty. Some shops only use the lowest cost parts so they can give you a lower estimate than their competitors. Very often the cost of the parts has little to do with how long they will last or how well they do their intended job, but it will affect the final bill.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 AT 7:31 PM