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Protect Your Wallet At The Repair Shop (II).


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When you go in for a new muffler, you may also be told you need new exhaust pipes, tail pipes, even a new catalytic converter. Make sure the mechanic shows you the damages on your pipes before paying out. Federal law requires cars built before 1995 to have catalytic converter warranties of five years or 50,000 miles. Cars built after 1995 have warranties of eight years or 80,000. If you're satisfied the work needs to be done, get the estimate and shop around for the best price.

The old standby, the tune-up, is an old-fashioned term these days. Yesterday's tune-ups included carburetor and ignition system adjustments. Today's computerized systems take car of that for you. All you may really need checked are the spark plugs, which should last about 30,000 and cost around $20 to replace. If your car is running rough and you've noticed your fuel efficiency is down, explain the specific problem to your mechanic rather than just asking for a 'tune-up.'

Getting bodywork done can be extremely expensive - especially if the repair shop puts on used parts and charges you for new. You could also be charged for replacement parts when your old parts were simply repaired. If you suspect this might be done, tell the mechanic you'd like to see your old parts and the packaging and documentation that comes with new parts.

The most important thing to remember is to find a reputable mechanic that you can trust and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your car and your checkbook, and you have a right to protect them both.

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