With the average vehicle on the road being about 10 years old, it is apparent that Americans are keeping their cars longer these days. There are benefits associated with owning an older automobile. Drivers with older cars do not have to worry about making loan payments, and insurance costs are much lower. However, there are also disadvantages. Unexpected expensive repairs can drain a savings account. In some cases, the repairs may cost more than what the car is valued at. There are several Web sites with helpful resources for evaluating repair estimates.
Both RepairPal and AutoMD are free to use. RepairPal, which was started in 2007, is run by auto enthusiasts. Estimates from this company are based on labor rates, cumulative car repair invoices and prices of parts. An online auto parts retailer owned by U.S. Auto Parts operates AutoMD. The staff consists of certified mechanics and auto data specialists. These workers use the data gathered from average labor costs for each zip code, real-time pricing data and repair time estimates. DIY repair cost estimates are also available from AutoMD. Both companies offer zip code estimates for repairs. Estimates also include those of independent mechanics and dealerships for comparison.
Researchers conducted tests on both sites. They found that sample repair data entered into both systems produced similar estimates. AutoMD’s estimate was comprehensive. In addition to time estimates, it included price ranges for parts and labor. Prices for both dealers and independent mechanics were included. The estimates provided by RepairPal are for a range of overall costs. In addition to this, there is a breakdown of costs for labor and parts.
The pages on these sites are printable, so consumers can take the information they collect to dealers or mechanics. People who are also in search of mechanics can find local shops by searching a zip code on the site. AutoMD’s list shows request statistics, the number of mechanics at various shops, hours of operation, map location, shop details and contact information. In addition to specifying whether shops install parts provided by AutoMD partners, the site specifies whether a shop uses Chilton or Mitchell labor standards. RepairPal’s list is not quite as extensive. However, map locations, hours, reviews and specialties are included. Both sites are helpful to consumers, but it is still important for people needing auto repairs to decide whether they should use parts from a dealer or aftermarket company.