4 Ways to Get a Better Car Repair Experience

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Americans like dealing with car repair about as much as root canal and finishing income tax returns. A study from Harris Interactive and RepairPal.com, a San Francisco online auto repair services firm, says U.S. consumers have a "major distrust" of auto repair shops and "high anxiety" when they bring their cars and trucks in for service.

Trust is the major issue, the survey says, with 38% of vehicle owners saying they don't have much confidence in their mechanic and 66% of respondents say they have been "ripped off" by an auto repair shop.

The RepairPal survey says that car and truck owners are so turned off by dealing with repair shops that 41% would rather do their taxes by hand rather than take their vehicle in for servicing.

"Getting your car repaired is a little like going to the doctor," explains Art Shaw, chief executive at RepairPal.com. "You are relying on an expert to provide honest insight based on experience and specialized training that you don't have. It is unfortunate that some shops have tarnished the reputation of the whole industry and created such stress for consumers."

Women are especially distrustful of auto repair shops. The survey says 66% of all consumers believe women are charged more than men getting the same repairs. And 77% of vehicle owners say auto repair businesses perform more unnecessary repairs for women than they do for men.

How can women -- and men -- get a square deal from auto repair services?

Start with some self-knowledge. You might avoid visiting a repair shop by studying your vehicles owners' manual more deeply than just learning the make and model of your vehicle.

Also, keep good records. A thorough record of your vehicle's maintenance history can help you avoid redundant repairs and help your technician diagnose a problem quickly and properly, saving you time and money.

You can also avoid major car repair headaches by getting everything your shop promises in writing. Know what work is being done, what parts are included and what it will cost. Always ask what the "complete job" will cost, and make your repair shop put it all on paper.

One other tip: Don't let your mechanic take a ride in your vehicle alone. That's not a trust issue -- it's a knowledge issue. By riding along with your technician, you'll get a better grip on the problem and be right there to ask good questions.

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