Mechanics often get a bad rap for being dishonest. That's because many of them are trying to take advantage of your ignorance.
Before you deal with a mechanic shop -- be it the local garage or the corporate tire center by the highway -- you need to be informed. You can take a few simple steps to prevent yourself from getting fleeced, whether or not you know what repairs your truck needs.
The next time you take your RAM truck to the shop for major or minor work, keep these five truck care tips in mind that most mechanics will neglect to mention.
5. The true cost of the repair is readily available online
Most mechanics won't tell you what repairs really cost. Once you've confirmed the problem with your truck, you can look up the industry standard price for parts and labor. There are a handful of free online estimators online that list repairs for every make and model.
4. The check engine light doesn't always mean you need repairs
What the mechanic won't tell you about the check engine light is that a good chunk of the codes that trigger it don't actually require repairs to keep your truck running fine. You can determine the severity of the problem on your own with some basic equipment. To diagnose the problem, buy an onboard diagnostics interface and download an app that can determine and translate the code. Once you know what's at fault, do some research online by using your Ram truck's Uconnect® 8.4 NAV featuring built-in 3G Wi-Fi Hotspot to find out what repairs you should do.
3. Always, always get a second opinion on the big repairs
You mechanic says your RAM needs a new transmission, and it's going to cost $2,500. "It needs to be done," he says. Don't commit just yet. For any major repair, you should take your truck to a second shop for a different opinion.
The best way to find a trusted mechanic is by asking friends and family for a recommendation. Who have they taken their vehicles to for years? Who has a proven record of trust? You can also refer to sites like Angie's List or Yelp for aggregate consumer reviews of a shop.
Important: When you find a second mechanic, do not tell them the original mechanic's diagnosis at first. That will give you an unbiased estimate.
Also, don't view mechanic's certifications on the wall as a reassuring stamp of credibility. Mechanics have to get certifications for specific areas of expertise, so those framed certificates don't necessarily reflect a wide skill set. Shops often require mechanics to post certifications to give the shop an air of expertise.
2. You can and should do the basic repairs on your own
Ram Trucks are America's longest-lasting pickup truck, but even the best vehicles need some preventative care. Virtually every mechanic out there will tell you to come back regularly for oil changes and routine maintenance. What they won't tell you is that you can do most of the basic maintenance and repairs for a fraction of the cost. With help from the scores of tutorials available on YouTube and a little elbow grease, you can save hundreds, sometimes thousands, on truck repairs.
1. You probably don't need that fluid flush
When you get your regular oil change, your mechanic will likely pitch you on a flush of your vehicle's fluids. If you're staying on top of your transmission and oil changes, just say no thanks. Most of the time, the fluid flush is an unnecessary task the shop can do to make some more bucks. Even most automakers don't recommend regularly flushing your vehicle's transmission fluid. Instead, just change it every 50,000 miles.