RepairPal: Yes, Your Mechanic Could be Ripping You Off

19 Jun

Your mechanic could be ripping you off, but how would you ever really know? RepairPal CEO David Sturtz explains, car repair is one of the classic cases where the consumer “is at an extreme informational disadvantage.”

 If you find your car in need of repair you might want to check out RepairPal, a utility to determine “cost of repairs” for when you need work done on your car.

RepairPal has a host of supporting features for its repair cost estimator, such as expert advice that you get when you look up a repair. For example, if your mechanic tells you that you should replace your spark plug wires when replacing a failing ignition coil, and you can see that RepairPal recommends that for your car, you can feel less suspicious of your mechanic.

Here is a sample of what you will find. I selected brake pad and rotor replacement for my 2000 Saturn SC2:

RepairPrice EstimateTM

Estimated price range for your repair

$410 – $809

» What’s a RepairPrice estimate?

Estimate Includes: (Adjusted for your area and make)

Parts: $145 – $471

  • Front Brake Pad Set
  • 2 Front Brake Rotors

Labor: $265 – $338

(Estimate excludes applicable taxes)

(Diagnostic charges not included)

About this Repair

What to watch out for

  • The parts for the Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement service on your Saturn SC2 tend to have a wide range in prices, even for parts of similar quality. You may benefit from checking around to compare the prices at different shops.


  • Some shops will recommend brake pads before it is time to replace them.  Ask the shop to be specific about how much of the pad is left.  We recommend that brake pads are replaced when there is 20% or less material remaining.
  • We recommend braking gently for the first 40 to 50 miles of driving on new pads.  This will allow them to adjust to the rotors and may help prevent squeaking.

» Do you see something wrong or missing?

Common Problems for the 2000 Saturn SC2

Brakes The brake fluid should be flushed every 60,000 miles.  Brake fluid that is dirty may cause problems in the brake system.
Drive Train
  • This engine is known for internal oil consumption problems.
  • The timing chain may come in contact with the timing cover causing noise in the engine.
  • GM recommends replacing the spark plugs and wires at 100,000 miles.  However to avoid the Check Engine Light coming on due to random misfires our technicians recommend replacing at 80,000 miles.
  • Damaged spark plug wires can cause the ignition coil to burn out.
Exhaust & Emissions No common problems reported.
Electrical & Lights
  • If the ABS light on the instrument panel illuminates check the brake lamps first, a lit ABS light could indicate that a brake light is not working or has burned out.
  • It is very important to replace your fuel filter every 30,000 miles.  A dirty or clogged fuel filter are well known causes for burning out the fuel pump.
  • The fuel gauge may not read correctly because the fuel sending module malfunctions.  The module is not sold individually so the fuel pump needs to be replaced to correct the problem.
Miscellaneous This engine commonly leaks oil from the valve cover gasket and the front crankshaft seal.
Suspension & Steering The power steering pump seal may leak.
Heating & Air Conditioning GM recommends replacing the engine coolant at 100,000 miles.  Our technicians recommend a complete cooling system flush every 60,000 to 70,000 miles.

Posted by on June 19, 2008 in Automotive, Public Service



3 responses to “RepairPal: Yes, Your Mechanic Could be Ripping You Off

  1. Jason

    June 19, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    I agree.

  2. mrsgijoe

    June 19, 2008 at 10:30 AM

    It seems a lot of mechanics out there are out to make as much money as they can on one person especially woman who would be more trusting and think that they really do need everything this person is saying your car can’t run without. I will have to check out the site Christopher.

  3. m.therese

    June 19, 2008 at 3:52 PM

    Ok, then, I now love my new mechanic. He did NOT rip me off! That is a great website, I am bookmarking it.


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