For the average person with little mechanical knowledge, leaving a car with someone for repairs is a big act of trust. You know your car has a problem, and you want it to be fixed without paying outrageous prices for repairs that weren’t needed, or unexpected charges for services you didn’t ask for. There are some ways you can assure yourself that you won’t be pushed over by zealous technicians that may try to talk you into doing things you don’t understand or need.
One place to start is to ask everyone you know where they take their cars, and what their experience has been. Word will travel fast if there is an unscrupulous repair center. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who has mechanical knowledge, invite them to go with you to check out a place. If you know your car is having problems but you cannot define what that problem is, having a more knowledgeable friend come along for a test drive could be very enlightening. A noise or other problem that you might not be able to describe will be more obvious to someone with auto repair experience.
If you don’t have anyone you can ask for help, then walk into the repair center armed with all of the information you can come up with. Have your car's symptoms written down to the best of your ability. If you get nervous, you won’t have to try to remember exactly what you were going to say. Make sure you tell the shop to call you with an estimate of charges before any work is done. Ask them if they have any minimum charges. Let the technician know that you will only pay for work done that you actually authorized.
Another important thing to do is to ask for your old parts back. You will then be able to look at the condition of your old parts and perhaps gain a better understanding of your car’s systems. Not only that, but if you’re stuck somewhere, you’ll have your old parts to either put back on in a pinch or know what to order. If possible, you should pay your account with a credit card. This way, if there is a problem later, you can refuse to pay the bill and the incident will be looked into. Finally, a little courtesy goes a long way. Be firm, but not rude when talking with your technician.