Nothing can hit your budget harder than an unexpected auto repair. When you’re struggling to make it to the next paycheck, the last thing you want to hear is that you need a new timing belt at a cost of $500.
And should a timing belt cost $500 or is the mechanic trying to take advantage of you?
Ask your Repair Pal. An online service at www.repairpal.com will tell you how much a specific repair should cost for your particular car in your area. You can also get a free iPhone app, so you can check repair estimates at the auto shop.
Once you enter your car’s make, model and year, you are given a list of repairs from which to choose, including routine maintenance items such as oil changes. You can also get an explanation of each repair. The price quotes are generated by a complex database that draws on a number of sources.
The service also lets you keep your maintenance records online, ask questions of other car owners and Repair Pal experts and get information about recalls. Repair Pal also just launched its Top Shop program, where it will provide a recommended list of repair shows after you enter your ZIP code.
There are a few similar services, including DriverSide, which is also free.
If you’re considering buying a used car, you can enter its vital statistics and read owner reviews and discussions of common problems for that make and model.