Try This to Get the Best Deal on Car Repairs

repair pal estimate

Do you ever feel like you are just emptying your wallet, time and time again? It feels like we are in that season right now.

Several months ago we made some major car repairs, next we got notice in the mail that everyone in our neighborhood would be assessed $500 for street repairs (“What are my taxes for?!“), then we found out a skylight is leaking water from the roof and (finally) just this past week we encountered another major car repair on one of our aging vehicles (which makes me think more and more about leasing an electric car).

As I've mentioned, all this would be a lot more stressful, if we didn't have some money stashed away. But, thankfully, we do and have been using some of it up to pay for these “surprise” expenses.

Those darn car repairs

I come from a long line of guys who detest putting money into their cars. My dad would sometimes go long periods of time without changing the oil in his car (sometimes forgetting) and he would always put off repairs as long as possible. I now realize what he was going through. It's no fun to pour money into a depreciating asset.

At the same time, my mother's dad was a mechanic who always believed in preventative maintenance on vehicles. It's hard to do – but it's no question that a car that has been well taken care will likely take care of you.

All this leads me to today's post, about the last car repair that we just did.

Last week, my wife found some smelly, oily liquid coming from underneath the passenger-side dashboard. After we investigated it further, we came to the conclusion it had something to do with the heating / cooling system in the car.

We were just hoping it was a broken hose or something.


Aaron, it turns out your leak is related to a broken heater core,” my mechanic said. “The part itself doesn't cost a lot – but the repair could take some time. It's going to cost about $1,500.”

What?!” I blurted out. “That's crazy.”

I often prepare myself mentally for what a car repair is going to cost me – just so I don't get too worked up or initiate a coronary episode. I was figuring this one would be about $600-800.

Check repair costs online

I told my mechanic that I was going to get a second opinion and call him back. Plus, I was looking to get my thoughts in order and regain my composure. I had recently heard about a website called – so I figured I'd see if it could offer some assistance.

After going to the site, I plugged in my year / make / model of my car / my zip code and the repair I need. In no time, the site does the rest and spits out an estimate of what you can expect to pay at neighboring shops.

Here's what my estimate looked like:

repair pal estimate


There is no cost or obligation to use the site – and they offer recommendations of shops in the area who they call “certified RepairPal shops”.

Armed with this information, I called my mechanic back up and asked if he would do the repair for $900 instead of the $1,500 which he quoted. I also told him that I found the price on He said he'd have to do some research and call me back.

A couple hours later, I got a phone call and he was willing to do the repair for $1,100. Granted, this wasn't what I had requested, but it was fair and within what the site had quoted (I still feel like this repair was more than I needed to pay – but I always feel that way when putting money into my cars).

So, all-in-all, the site saved us about $400 worth and it was a lot easier than calling up repair shops in the area and getting quotes from them.

Try the site out for your next repair – and let me know how it goes. OR, have you heard of the site already and used the estimator tool?

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  1. Ooor, if it’s might be able to do the repair yourself! My husband and I aren’t “fix it” car people…but we had a radiator leak and an engine gasket that needed replaced…$1000 was the quote. And it was pretty average. So, we YouTube’d it…he said he’d like to give it a shot since there were some great step-by-step videos…and one Saturday afternoon we did it! It didn’t take nearly as long as we thought, just some patience and it ended up only costing $200!

    • I’m not that brave! Kudos to you guys for diving in though and giving it a shot.

  2. This is such a welcome post today! My 03′ Monte’s ECM (transmission control module) just went out and we’re looking at a several hundred dollar fix, according to everyone, but we have no idea where to take it or how much it SHOULD cost. This is going to be so helpful! Thank you for posting this!

    • Glad it could be of assistance Liz – love to hear if it helped you get a better rate. Good luck!

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