February 1, 2011 at 3:38 AM EST - Updated June 23 at 7:56 AM
CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Most people have no idea whether they're getting a fair price at the mechanic shop, but a website could be the key.
C & J Auto Shop Manager Eddie Moore has been up to his elbows in car parts for 25 years. He says most of his customers are oblivious to the true cost of car repairs. One of his recent clients discovered he needed a new heating coil on his Jeep Cherokee.
"A place not too far from us basically gave him a price of a little over $1,000, our price was $600," said Moore.
But if your car is immobile, it's hard to drive from shop to shop to compare prices. "Most people don't plan for a breakdown," Moore said.
But there is a tool to keep handy in case you do. Repairpal.com claims to take the mystery out of car repair. The site tells you what you should expect to pay for just about any service your car may need.
You select the car make, the year and the model, what type of service you think your car needs and your zip code. Repairpal.com will break down the cost of all the parts and labor. Eddie checked it out to see how it compares with C & J Auto's prices.
For a Ford Taurus, first we checked replacing an ignition coil. "They give a price range of $115-$179," said Moore. "That's a good ballpark on that."
Next, we look at new ball joints. "$270 to $509. That's a pretty wide range and that goes back to the quality of the part. The better the quality on certain things like that, the more money you're willing to spend because you don't want to have to that same job in a year," he said.
If your rear main seal was leaking, "You're looking around 960 dollars which looking at that, it looks like a fair price," Moore stated.
Only a few dollars off from this shop's price. Eddie thinks repairpal.com can be a useful guide to the mechanically challenged.
"If they're higher than this, there's gotta be a reason why and that's why you need to get a full estimate from the shop that's doing it," he explained.
Repairpal.com can show you nearby shops that can perform the work, describes common problems your specific vehicle might face, plus you can sign up for service reminders that Eddie says is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road.