Last time I talked about doing maintenance on vehicles, and how to determine weather your vehicle needs repairs that are recommended to you. There are two different kinds of repairs, maintenance and mechanical repairs. Let's talk about mechanical repairs.
Basically, things break. Wisconsin is really rough on vehicles, you have extreme temperature changes, pot holes, salt, snow, rain and whatever else mother nature will throw at us. Plus, all the mileage you put on takes it's toll on every part on your vehicle. Sooner or later things are going to start wearing out and need to be replaced or repaired. The bad news is not all parts will give you a warning sign before they fail (like brake pads squealing when they hit the wear indicators). So it's to your advantage to have your car inspected periodically to make sure it's safe for the road (this is were maintenance comes in). But how do you know if the repair is actually needed or are you just being taken for a ride?
If someone tells you your vehicle needs something, like a suspension part replaced, ask to see it. If a shop is not willing to take you back to look at your car then something’s not right. When we bring people back into shop they usually get a kick out of it, they get to see what's on the bottom of their car for once, and maybe get a better understanding of how it all works. When some tells you, for instance, you have a torn axle boot, it means nothing to you. But when you see it, you can tell that all that grease leaking out and the big hole in it is not right. You may not even be able to repeat what you saw to somebody you know, but will be confident to say "I'm not sure what I saw, but it needed to be fixed!". Another thing is to ask for your old parts back. Unless it has a core charge, exchange, or warranty you are entitled to your old parts, after all you paid for them.
If your still not sure then get a second opinion. You also should consider the reputation of the shop, and are they capable of doing the repair there suggesting. I wouldn't want a fast lube place doing any engine work on my car, it's out of their expertise.
And last but not least, do you trust them. This is huge! As a shop owner we work very hard to gain our customers trust, and once we have it it's not easily broken. This can only be achieved by honesty and good communication.
It's all about education. Whatever is being proposed to you must make sense to you! I think being armed with just these few insights and a little research will go a long way on making you feel comfortable with all your repair decisions.