Author Topic: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?  (Read 3045 times)

jeromedawg

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Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« on: August 14, 2015, 01:19:30 PM »
Hey guys,

I'm currently on the hunt for a mechanic, specializing in AC, to fix a couple AC-related issues in my car. I have a mechanic but I don't think he does a ton of AC work and wasn't able to resolve an issue I was having with air blowing cold on only one side (I think it's an issue with the blend door actuator after researching and asking other mechanics). Anyway, I was given some quotes over the phone but those of course are verbal. Going into the shop and getting a quote up front is the more sure-fire way to know what you're going to pay. My question though is if it's OK or normal to go into one shop, get a quote, then go to one or two other shops and see what they quote... because phone quotes can never be 100% accurate (and I always worry about bait & switch though the two mechanics I'm debating between both have good Yelp reviews at least lol). There's definitely more driving involved which makes me wonder if it's even worth it.

Again, if this was an issue my normal mechanic would take on, I'd have no reservations. In this case, these are two mechanics who I've never dealt with and only heard good things about 2nd/3rd hand.

Any tips or advice?

As far as DIY, the blend door actuator might be something I could take on myself as I found a youtube video of someone showing exactly where it's at and how it would be replaced. The AC compressor is definitely the first thing that needs to be fixed though.

Kroaler

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 02:08:11 AM »
Wow I'm really surprised no one provided an answer. Honestly, the following information would be helpful if you want any neat situation specific  advice.  Vehicle type model, year and miles, example   2001 Toyota Echo 4 door 157,000 miles. I realizes that information isn't what you asked, but sometimes you get cool free advice from people.


To answer your question, yes i shop around. I don't think its frowned upon, but I don't care anyway. Sometimes it seems people quote vastly different quotes for the same job, I think some mechanics don't like getting into uncomfortable positions and purposely quote prices to steer you away if the job requires awkward positions. I may not be the best person to ask though because I usually DIY everything, but if the weather outside is extreme I will shop around for quotes for some jobs. Also I usually only get verbal quotes if that helps ( I haven't been screwed over....yet). But in your situation it makes sense (to me) to drive to the locations. Sometimes you end up getting valuable information for free, while they attempt to quote a repair price.

In regards to your car, I honestly find it strange your primary mechanic wont do the A/C. If it really is just a compressor change that should be well within his comfort zone if hes been in business for a while.   Also if your DIY comfortable and "enjoy" the challenge I say go for it. If you found a youtube video the hard part is 50% done lol.    IF IT WERE ME,  I would DIY the actuator part, as far as the compressor goes, I might DIY it, or I might shop around. Just depends on the weather. I dont work well under a car if the temperature isn't between 60-80degrees out. That's just me, I'm VERY good with cars so your situation and comfort may vary.

Again my opinion is it makes sense to get different quotes for a specific job even if it does take some time, especially since mechanic quotes can vary by 100s of dollars.

Hope my rambling helped in some way.

BlueMR2

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2015, 07:29:50 AM »
Shop around for quotes, no, not really.  By the time I make it to a shop, I've got a really good idea what the problem is and how much it should cost to fix.  I'm just at the shop because it's beyond my skill level or has some other special requirement.  I'm always ready to go somewhere else if I get an unreasonable quote.  It has never happened.  I'd have to say that overall, if you go to an independent shop, or even a long established good reputation dealer that they're pretty honest.  Maybe I just look like I know what's going on too.  Dunno.

southern granny

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2015, 07:56:35 AM »
No.  We have found a mechanic that we trust and has always treated us right.  We always call him first.  If it is something that he does not want to deal with, he will refer us to someone else and we trust him to refer us to the right person.  Unfortunately a good mechanic stays busy and his wait list is at least 2 weeks.

Le Poisson

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2015, 07:59:18 AM »
If its a problem I'm not familiar with, I'll get second opinions. I don't shop for the lowest price, but I may shop for the most reasonable resolutio or a second opinion.

Case in point - our van (new to us about 2 months ago) was already having brake issues. Took it to our usual mechanic to pinpoint the issue and be sure we were armed for bear going back to the dealership. He wanted +/- $700 to replace front rotors, pads, and 2 seized calipers. I paid him $100 for his time to disassemble/diagnose and write out a recommended workplan to fix the problem. This was work I could have done myself, but I wanted his signature because...

Back at the dealers, they denied any issue and refused to fix the (safety) problem saying a competent mechanic had done a billiion point inspection pre-sale. Then we put a review on Google+ and handed them the diagnosis from our family mechanic. Suddenly the repair was part of the iron-clad guarantee and customer satisfaction was first priority.

The brakes work fine now.

jeromedawg

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2015, 08:31:15 AM »
Thanks all, I'm gonna go with my gut-feeling on this and make the longer drive to the mechanic recommended by my coworker. From what I know they're a small and family-run business, and I just felt pretty comfortable talking to them over the phone yesterday and the day before. I believe the wife answers the phones for scheduling or misc questions, and she was very kind and even asked if I had been there before. The husband, who is the owner/operator took the time to answer all my questions about the compressor as well as the blender issue - I did have a bit of a hard time understanding him (broken English) but I just got a good sense that he wasn't trying to rush me off the phone and was really trying to explain things to me. It's a longer drive than I usually would for a mechanic, but I feel ok about this one - hopefully it works out. Also, the fact that he was up-front with me about giving me a specific 'ballpark' quote was also good. I'm not expecting it to be what he quoted but I did have the time to look up parts and all together they come out to about $50-60 under what he quoted (and his quote includes labor). So I'll definitely try to get a more specific quote when I'm there. If it ends up running more than $200-300 over his original quote, I may have to reconsider
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 08:33:17 AM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2015, 08:37:40 AM »
In regards to your car, I honestly find it strange your primary mechanic wont do the A/C. If it really is just a compressor change that should be well within his comfort zone if hes been in business for a while.   Also if your DIY comfortable and "enjoy" the challenge I say go for it. If you found a youtube video the hard part is 50% done lol.    IF IT WERE ME,  I would DIY the actuator part, as far as the compressor goes, I might DIY it, or I might shop around. Just depends on the weather. I dont work well under a car if the temperature isn't between 60-80degrees out. That's just me, I'm VERY good with cars so your situation and comfort may vary.

Yea, I agree. I think part of it might be because he's extremely busy every time I go and it's just him and another guy, and they specialize in mostly engine/transmission/shocks and stuff. He doesn't seem very interested in the electrical/AC side of repairs... in fact, I left him my car for 2 weeks or so, expecting that he'd fix about 3-4 issues. When I got back he had only fixed one or two. I wasn't too happy with this but it was hard expressing it to him because he's such a nice guy. I think he just fell-behind and probably was thinking "I really don't want to try to troubleshoot the AC issues..." - I think the other factor I recall him saying was that it was really difficult for him to find or get a certain part. I don't know... it just seems like for certain AC issues, it's better taking to an AC repair place. Sounds really odd but I would think those places exist for reasons like this.

Le Poisson

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2015, 09:21:51 AM »
Up here I think there are laws about refrigerant capture etc. when working on AC - but I could be wrong, and it may depend on the refrigerant used in the system. I know teh stuff back in the 90's was not DIY-friendly for environmental reasons.

jeromedawg

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2015, 10:30:36 AM »
Up here I think there are laws about refrigerant capture etc. when working on AC - but I could be wrong, and it may depend on the refrigerant used in the system. I know teh stuff back in the 90's was not DIY-friendly for environmental reasons.

I'm at the shop now and they added r134a conversion to the bucket list on top of the compressor (pretty sure its a rebuilt one they're installing), drier, and expansion valve. Total quoted cost is at $600 so far. He was gonna take a look at the air mix/blend door issue so that could bring the cost up more if I choose to have them fix that. But he said he wanted to fix the main stuff first before looking at that. It's a good thing I decided not to try to tackle the compressor issue myself. But depending on what he says the problem is with the air mix/blend door or whatever, I may try to DIY fix it if it's straightforward....we'll see
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 10:33:18 AM by jplee3 »

jeromedawg

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Re: Do you guys 'shop' different mechanics for quotes?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2015, 02:01:48 PM »
Up here I think there are laws about refrigerant capture etc. when working on AC - but I could be wrong, and it may depend on the refrigerant used in the system. I know teh stuff back in the 90's was not DIY-friendly for environmental reasons.

I'm at the shop now and they added r134a conversion to the bucket list on top of the compressor (pretty sure its a rebuilt one they're installing), drier, and expansion valve. Total quoted cost is at $600 so far. He was gonna take a look at the air mix/blend door issue so that could bring the cost up more if I choose to have them fix that. But he said he wanted to fix the main stuff first before looking at that. It's a good thing I decided not to try to tackle the compressor issue myself. But depending on what he says the problem is with the air mix/blend door or whatever, I may try to DIY fix it if it's straightforward....we'll see

So it ended up being $600 straight as quoted. The issue with hot air only blowing on one-side previously was due to the expansion valve, apparently. He didn't have to do anything additional on top of replacing the compressor, drier, expansion valve, and doing the r134a conversion. Seems reasonable to me - having A/C now makes a world of difference