SAN FRANCISCO — Consider this: Millions of American families will head off on a road trip this summer even though their car is not in tip-top shape. But what can you do to avoid getting stranded on a dark and lonely highway while also not getting overcharged for the preventative work your car really needs?
The car repair experts at RepairPal [www.repairpal.com] — a nationwide network of certified, pre-screened repair shops on a mission to help you find a fair price for quality work — have five critical tips:
>> 1. DON’T GAMBLE Because walking into the first shop that you find on Google is like rolling the dice, do your homework by searching for a shop with certified technicians.
>> 2. KNOW THE ‘MAGIC NUMBER’ Research average repair prices before visiting the shop and note any prices much higher or lower than the average (which may signal low quality parts or potential overbilling).
>> 3. DO A ROAD TRIP CHECK-UP Because unexpected breakdowns are usually much more costly than preventative work, get your vehicle inspected by a shop you trust at least one week before you hit the road.
>> 4. THINK AHEAD Because a poorly-executed repair could leave you coming back weeks later, always choose a shop that offers an excellent warranty in case anything goes wrong.
>> 5. DON’T TRUST ALL REVIEWS While review sites like Yelp and Foursquare are great for finding a good burger, fake reviews and unknowledgeable customers make these types of sites unsuitable to select an auto shop.
As a free resource, RepairPal [www.repairpal.com] independently certifies auto repair shops nationwide, provides data on the average cost of each repair, and offers trusted customer reviews — eliminating the need to shop around.