Working on cars is something I learned from necessity. I've always bought used cars, as money has
always been rather tight with me. Used cars always need something fixed. In my early days of car ownership, it seemed that the starting rate for almost anything broken on my vehicle was three hundred dollars and went up from there. Because I simply didn't have that kind of cash to throw around, I bought a car manual and began doing simple things like brake pad replacement. It wasn't
fun, especially in cold weather with no garage, but there was a certain satisfaction of driving past the
local auto repair ripoff shop and say, "Here's three hundred dollars you want get, bucko!" Now please believe me, I'm talking about ripoff artists here, not regular honest mechanics.
These particular rip off artists were adept at free inspections. The mechanic would put your car up
on the lift and consult with the manager with a worried look. "Looks like your brakes are shot. You're
going to need the works, but they'll be guaranteed for life, so you'll be good after that. That'll be three hundred dollars." In a day when brake pads were under twenty dollars, two hundred and eighty dollars
for an hour's labor was outrageous. Yet, when I was ignorant and without other means I fell for it.
After all, I'd get a lifetime of free replacement pads from then on, so I gave it a shot.
Months later, after much driving, the time came for new pads. The car goes back up the lift. Guess what? The rotors would be warped or something else would be wrong that would invalidate the "lifetime replacement guarantee." The manager would barely conceal his glee as he would say, "That'll be three hundred dollars." Now I may have been ignorant on the subject of cars, but crooks I usually spot quickly.
"Thanks, but I think I'll take it somewhere else."
"I'm sorry son, but state law says once we see a vehicle with damaged brakes, we have to fix it. You
aren't allowed to take it back out on the road in that condition," the manager lied.
"Ok, let's call the police and they can explain that law to me," said I. When dealing with crooks,
call the police and let them sort things out. My vehicle was soon off the lift and back on the road. We didn't even need the police. A car manual, a few wrenches and a screwdriver and I soon had the brakes repaired. That was an eye opening moment.
Since the advent of the internet, I routinely look up various auto repairs on youtube.com.
You can learn to replace everything from cvs shafts to windshield wiper motors and more. If nothing else, always go online to see what part must be replaced and what it should cost. If your repair
guy wants a hundred dollars more for his brake pads (before adding labor cost) than AutoZone, Advance Auto or your local car parts store charges, get another quote. Believe me, his brake pads aren't magic.
Don't let anyone rip you off on car repairs. If you can read, or watch an internet video, you can learn to do a lot of the work yourself. If nothing else, you'll never fall for needing "replacement muffler
bearings" or "turn signal fluid." Motor on safely, future mechanics!