How to avoid oranges when you are shopping for apples.

We all do it but don’t like to admit it. So let’s do an exercise to relieve the burden we are carrying. Repeat after me. “Hello, my name is, [state your name] and I shop prices.” Now don’t we all feel better? When I started thinking and researching for this article, I started watching my own shopping habits more. Oh, baby, I am a price-shop-a-holic! Tooth brushes, fruit, carpet, light bulbs, hair product, sheets, hotels, parts for my car…..wait? Did a car guy just say he shopped prices on car part prices? Yes, yes, I did! But that is great for me and you because i want the best quality for the best price. Let’s talk about shopping for great service and quality parts. I have some good suggestions to help you be informed.

When we are for shopping service repair work we need to start off with a good foundation. This means we ask a friend, family member, or our best friend GOOGLE. Now that we have read what someone posted it might be on a forum out there on the interweb, we are set to start asking for prices, break out your yellow pages directory. STOP, what you are doing and slowly back away from the computer, tablet, or phone! Although those are a good way to confirm what a professional is telling you, it isn’t the best place to start. Honestly, before we quote prices or diagnose your vehicle over the phone we prefer to see you and your vehicle, so that you can receive the best customer service experience. This will also make your job “shopping” for the “best value” that much easier. You will be informed and have a base line to begin your search. Now, you have a better foundation with diagnostic service preformed, what are the questions you should be asking? Let me give you some suggestions and questions to ask:

  1. Explain yourself and the situation that you are having completely.
  2. Make sure you stress the moments when these problems happen. (driving conditions, speed, turning left/right, braking and etc.)
  3. Tell them that you had the vehicle diagnosed.
  4. Let them know what that diagnostic is.
  5. Inform the shop of your maintenance history on the vehicle.
  6. When they give you a quote for the repairs, break it down:
    1. Price – pause, then think about that price. Compare it to what you already know.
    2. Tax – Does that price include tax? (Many shops do not include tax or fees in their estimatements.)
    3. Fee – Is there any fees that I will be charged in addition to the quoted price?
    4. Warranty- Does this repair have a warranty and what is it?
    5. Parts – What kind of parts are you using aftermarket or factory (OEM)?
    6. Labor – Who will be performing the labor? (A seasoned, certified veteran or the guy in training?)
    7. Time – How long will you need to make arrangement to be without your vehicle?
  7. Then hang up the phone and plan how you want to invest your money.

Your job, if you choose to accept this mission, as the “shopper” is to be in the driver seat. The more information that you know, the more informed choice you can make.

Let’s review this information. The person performing your services should be seasoned, experienced, ASE certified, and you feel more comfortable with a technician with previous factory training. Now some services can be done by a general service technician, however, “If you don’t know your car (even if you do know your car, still), know your mechanic.” The parts that are being used should be the best quality for you vehicle first and your wallet second. Sometimes when we think with our wallets first and we pay more in the long run. I rather save a few more dollars and get the best products for my investment, instead of the cheapest at the moment. Make sure you are getting a warranty and what the details of that warranty is. Sometimes the parts are covered over lifetime warranties BUT you are responsible to pay the labor. Know what your responsibility is to keep your service warranty intact. Fees are charged by most every shop out there, generally the fee is a percentage of the cost for the services performed with a $40 or $50 cap. You can have two or more fees that you need to know about, service supply fee, storage fees, tow charge fees, core charge fee, shipping fee, hazmat fee, or used oil/filter recycling fee. There is a lot of shops out there that do not want to explain those fees and will that will not tell you about the fees beforehand, rather let you find out about them at the pick of your vehicle. Uncle Sam always has his hand out wanting for you to contribute. You have to pay the tax, so you should ask how much it is going to cost you. Finally, You need to make sure the price you are given is the “out the door price.” You are making an investment in your vehicle no matter how sad, dinged, scratched, smelly, junked up or absolutely amazing, clean, shiny it is, it is yours. It gets you to point A to B, it makes you feel safe for you and your family, or it makes you look completely incredible while driving it. Shirley is the name of my Odyssey, I like to make sure Shirley is healthy and well taken care of.

How to avoid oranges when you are shopping for apples? The only way to get the best investment for your money is to be informed. Make sure you are getting the all the parts you need to fix the issue. Make sure those parts are the same as the manufacture parts (OEM), if not better than you have been quoted previously. Make sure the person performing the work is experienced to do so. Make sure the shop you choose backs up their work with a warranty. Make sure you are getting the Apple you are looking for and not the orange you are being sold.

All this can be avoided with one more suggestion. Find a “home shop” for your vehicle. A repair shop that meets or exceeds your needs. A place you, your family and friends, would be comfortable coming and staying at if you had to wait. Having you vehicle serviced for oil changes, maintenance services, and repairs at one trusted place can extend the life of your vehicle and curb potential costly repairs in the future. If you have any questions and or ideas for other blog post email me at


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