Just a few days ago a new website was launched that I believe is going to even out the playing field among the consumers and mechanics. If you’re anything like me, I couldn’t tell you the difference between the carburetor and the intake valve or what either of them do besides make my engine work OK. The website is RepairPal. The premise of the site is that you tell it what kind of vehicle you have (year, model, etc.) and then tell it what kind of repairs need to be done. (The site cannot tell you what the actual problem is.) RepairPal will then conduct a search on all the local shops in your area and give you a price quote as to how much it would cost you to take it in for those repairs.
What was a bit horrifying was the research the founder did to compile his numbers. He called about 100 shops in his state, with a particular problem and jotted down each shops quote estimate. Then he had a woman make the exact same phone calls, to the same shop with the same problem, the quote estimates they found for the woman were on average 17% higher than what he was quoted. That’s so criminal.
I remember TJ and I took our car in for an oil change in Houston. She was driving, and I’m guessing the guys didn’t see me. After a few minutes into the oil change, they asked if TJ would go outside and look at something they noticed. We look at each other and in a glance decide that I would go look. I could immediately tell the guy was surprised by my presence and decided to put on his best Oscar performance and try to convince me of needing some kind of procedure that I had never heard of in my entire life. I wanted to slap that guy in the face.
RepairPal is still very new and in its beta stages but I think it has potential in the long run. It’ll stop shady mechanics from ripping people off and it’ll also help the honest mechanics keep customers because they give a good service for a good price.
On another note, with rising gas prices you can visit GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas in your area. The site relies on other drivers to inform the site about the most current gas prices.