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How To Avoid Expensive Car Repairs And Misdiagnosis

Do your homework before hiring a mechanic

Car repair costs can blow out enormously.

Sometimes it’s due to misdiagnosis of the problem, other times a result of a “dodgy” car mechanic intentionally charging you for repairs you don’t actually need and in many cases it’s simply because the mechanic is inexperienced.

Unfortunately, rather than taking the time to work out what the problem actually is many mechanics go for the “repair by replacement” method. Sure, replacing all of the parts that may be causing a fault does usually solve the problem, but it comes at a big cost to you as the owner.

A great mechanic however, will take the time to properly diagnose the problem. The simple things that may be causing the fault will be ruled out first before the more expensive repairs are undertaken.

Are the major repairs really required?

When you have a great mechanic that you really trust, you can usually trust that they will keep costs to a minimum and be completely transparent with you. If for some reason you don’t, or you just need some extra peace of mind, the next best thing is understanding what faults actually mean.

Just a few of the more common customer complaints, misdiagnoses and correct diagnoses include:

  • Overheating: This can be misdiagnosed as a faulty water pump or blocked radiator, yet is often caused by a fault in the electric radiator fan – common in heavy traffic conditions and much cheaper to fix.
  • Knocking noises: This is when your car makes sketchy noises when you go over bumps. A mechanic tells you that your rear shock absorbers need replacement when really it’s just your loose jack or something else rattling in the boot (believe me, it happens all the time).
  • Small water leaks: Often misdiagnosed as exhaust leaks that cost hundreds (and sometimes up to a thousand) dollars to replace the exhaust system. The correct diagnosis is more often than not, simply condensation – a normal occurrence that requires no repairs.
  • Whirring noise: Many mechanics misdiagnose this as wheel bearing failure when it’s usually simply old tyres that need replacing – a much less costly exercise.
  • Gears slow to select when starting the car: Many mechanics will automatically charge you to replace the transmission, at a cost in the thousands of dollars. But a minor leak of transmission oil will cause the same problem and is far cheaper to fix.

Misdiagnosis of car faults are very common. A little knowledge on your part is power. Make sure your mechanic isn’t ripping you off and go in with some knowledge about your car, how it runs and what the faults could really mean. It will help you avoid those major car repair costs and save you a lot of money.

For more auto related advice, tips and tricks, head to the Blue Toro Blog.

Written by Janelle Gonzalez

Corporate escapee and mechanic’s wife Janelle Gonzalez has spent the last 24 years in garages, pit lanes and on road trips. Living a double life - corporate by weekday, trackside on the weekends - she shares her husband’s passion for cars. She has now turned her skills to building Australia’s first national mobile mechanic franchise. Her mission is to help Australians trust mechanics by educating car owners and returning to good old fashioned service values, while changing the lives of mechanics and their families.

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