DEAR HARRIETTE: I believe my car repairman is taking advantage of me. Admittedly, I don't know much about my car and how it functions, but “Jeff” gives me quotes about how many hundreds it will cost to replace parts on a fairly new American-made car after I go in to change my oil. He makes this seem like such a pressing issue, but I can't help but feel like he's just trying to squeeze every penny out of me. There are only two repair shops in town, so I choose between high prices or lies from Jeff. How can I assert myself so he stops trying to hold my car hostage? -- If It Ain't Broke, Aberdeen, Maryland
DEAR IF IT AIN’T BROKE: It is time for a third opinion. This time, you have to venture outside your town. Ask for referrals from friends or co-workers for a car repair service that is reputable and affordable. Call and ask if you can schedule a consultation. Sometimes you can get a simple evaluation as a courtesy or for a small fee. Do not reveal what you have been told by your guy. Instead, listen to learn what this new person suggests. If the recommendations match, go back to your guy. If your hunch is correct and it seems that Jeff is steering you down an unnecessary path, change your allegiance and start working with this new person. You can also let Jeff know at some point that you got another opinion and found that he was being unnecessarily pushy with his suggestions for your new car.
Finally, you should learn more about the inner workings of your car so that you have a working vocabulary and understanding of how it functions. In this way, you can be more proactive and knowledgeable when it comes time to have your car serviced.