Explained: slash car repair costs

There are car mechanics who prey on vulnerable people, and there are those who offer great value.

Then there are the incompetent ones, who don’t set out to rip you off, but to whom you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars each time they work on your car, only to find they haven’t fixed it.

In just the past three months, we have shelled out close to $2000 to get one or the other of two cars on the road, without luck.

It started when I needed a roadworthy certificate for my old car. That cost $160. A few days later, the car broke down and had to be towed back to the mechanics. Some $700 later, it was apparently good to go. But again, a few days on, it broke down again. I was determined not to have the car ‘fixed’ again.

We have another old car which we were contemplating selling for scrap because of its age. But so that I could hit the road again, we decided to give it one more whirl.

Off she went to a different mechanic. This one charged us $1100 but was honest enough to admit he would not guarantee the repair before he began working on the car.

Not surprisingly, the car barely drove 5km before beginning to shake and shudder.

We have now ‘road-tested’ just about every mechanic in our suburb and, over 25 years, we are yet to strike it lucky with any of them. Not even ones who come highly recommended by our neighbours have been able to get to the bottom of some of the mechanical failures we have endured.

Which is why, next time I need a mechanic, I will be using genuine comparison sites before making a selection. Here are some of the ones available:

AutoGuru
This site partners with automotive parts retailer Supercheap Auto. Car owners can research and compare pricing for thousands of repair workshops throughout Australia that are listed on AutoGuru.

The site promises transparent pricing and guarantees the best price. You can obtain free and fast upfront quotes and most workshops offer perks, such as a free car wash or loan car.

After answering a few questions, which include stating your car registration number, the site shows you a list of repair workshop members in your area with a quoted price for the job you have requested.

More importantly, you can see how previous customers have rated each mechanic, and read customer feedback.

Funnily, none of the mechanics I used in the past were listed.

Canstar Blue
This site offers a limited review of car servicing chains such as UltraTune, Kmart Tyre and Auto Service and Midas.

Serviceseeking.com.au
Mobile mechanics feature prominently on this site. Serviceseeking.com.au helps you sort through their listed members by highest ranking, number of reviews and price.

It displays members’ star-rating and customer feedback.

Oneflare
Oneflare is less of a comparison site and more of a platform which puts you in touch with tradesmen. You answer a few questions about your car, including its mileage, and the site will send the job request to its members.

Eventually, a few of them will contact you via email to offer their services.

Do you have a car mechanic you swear by? What tips do you have for weeding out rotten repair workshops?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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