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The Power of 2nd (and 3rd) Opinions

by J. Money on Tuesday, October 12, 2010

j. money cadillac

Remember the other month when I thought I was gonna have to retire my Caddy? Because I failed emissions and some jerk store told me it was going to cost $3,000 to fix?  Well yeah, they were wrong.

Which brings us to today’s topic:  MAKE SURE TO GET 2nd OPINIONS! Especially when you have no idea about whatever it is that’s broken.

And when it comes to car stuff, I’ll be the first to admit I SUCK at it.  I’m pretty much like the opposite of a guy in this department.  Things start squeaking and I freak out.  Not because I think it’ll explode or anything like that (it can’t explode, right?), but I’m just always afraid something huge is broken and it’ll cost me like $5,000 to fix :( So what usually happens is I keep on driving and ignoring the problems until I’m physically unable to do so any more – AKA the car STOPS. Haha… Or in this case I fail emissions, and am forced to rectify it.

But anyways, after being told that it was gonna cost me $3,000 at one shop to fix 100% (there was like 3 things wrong according to them), I finally owned up and decided to call around just to be sure. It was super annoying and I honestly *hate* doing it with a passion, but there was no way I was going to shell out more money than the car was worth just to pass a stupid test.  ESPECIALLY since MD has this waiver you can get once you cross over the $450 payment mark (so you don’t do exactly that – spend more on the car than it’s worth).  Of course, it should have been a clear warning sign when body shop #1 didn’t even bring it to my attention!

So I hit up two other places – the shop my family uses a few hours away, and the shop my wife’s family uses 45 mins away.  But instead of taking in the car to both places – wasting lots more hours and money to inspect it all over again – I just faxed over the paperwork from body shop #1 (sneaky sneaky!) and had them take a look and get back to me with pricing ;)  And here’s what they said:

  • Mechanic #2: $1,300 to fix everything. That already cut down the price in half!  Wtf?  But even more impressively, they recommended just fixing 1 of the things first (an oxygen sensor) and some other tiny things like an air filter and something else I can’t recall, so that I can make it over that $450 total cost in hopes I’d qualify for the Emissions Waiver :)  And then if I didn’t, of course, I’d have to take it back and fix the other stuff.
  • Mechanic #3: $1,000ish to fix everything, and also brought up waiver information.  Only problem with this one was that they were hours away and would be a pain to get fixed there.

So what did I do? I used mechanic #2 and spent the additional $200 more to cross the waiver limit, and then took the ol’ Caddy out for another inspection!  And you know what happened?  I freakin’ passed!!!!  I didn’t even have to go for the waiver! haha… man, talk about being in shock. I honestly thought I’d have to fight w/ the waiver people to make sure I was in the clear.  But that measly oxygen sensor did the trick!  And I didn’t have to shell out $3,000 either.  Freakin’ rip-offs.

So please, if you find yourself in a similar situation – either with car troubles or hospital stuff or dentist stuff, etc (basically anything big & expensive) – get a 2nd and/or 3rd opinion! It may take a little more time to do the research but it can literally save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. in the end.  Just because we’re not experts in the field, doesn’t mean we can’t be experts at saving money ;)


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CityFlips October 12, 2010 at 8:36 am

Yeah, this usually works for all kinds of things. If one manager tells you no, come back during a different shift! I think this is especially true with medical situations. If you get a diagnosis that’s outlandish, get a second opinion. Or, if you aren’t getting better with the treatment you’re on…get a second opinion!

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2 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com October 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

I have been thinking about getting Invisalign for a while now. My teeth actually aren’t that bad, but I want that movie star smile. I got a quote a little over a year ago and it would have cost me $4,000 out of pocket (with insurance paying $3k). I didn’t do that one because it was too expensive. I got a quote last week and it will cost me about $2,300 (with insurance paying $2.5k). I’m still not sure if I’m willing to spend that much on straightening teeth that aren’t that bad in the first place, but at least a cut the expected price almost in half.

Second opinions rock!

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3 Techbud October 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

2nd opinions can be inconvenient, but well worth it as you proved. I have a local auto shop that I always use, a few times they haven’t even charged me for small repairs. Very trustworthy.

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4 MainlineMom October 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

Yay! Love hearing stories like that!

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5 Brad Chaffee October 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

Dude, in Virginia, we have to have a vehicle inspection every year. It’s such a pain in the butt, especially with the lack of integrity in the auto care field. ;) I will ALWAYS take my car to another shop if my car gets rejected for something.

Personally, I have a really hard time trusting mechanics. I have been lied to too many times for all that.

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6 Fred Schebesta October 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

I just did the exact same thing with our backyard quotes. We had some HUGE variances in the quotes and I thought I would never get it done. We have now found some more reasonable $’s and we should be able to go through with it all. Great idea J.Money!

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7 Jenna October 12, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I always think that getting another opinion is always worth the amount of effort. Either you get peace of mind knowing you made the right decision or your find a better deal. Win-win to me!

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8 Frugal Rich Life October 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I use Yelp in these types of situations. I guess people in the Bay Area are very vocal when it comes to service reviews. I used to be charged ~$1000 for periodic maintenance because I didn’t know any better and would say yes to everything, but now it’s only $100 at my new mechanic. Plus, it’s handy to have someone in the family who knows about cars (e.g. significant other) to tell you what really is going on ;)

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9 sandy @yesiamcheap October 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Okay I’m so not a grease monkey and car issues has put me over budget for the past 3 months, so I can say this strictly from experience since I’ve failed from an O2 sensor before but…They sensor themselves usually costs under $50. Don’t kill me.

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10 michelle October 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm

same thing happened to my boyfriend a couple months ago. he took it to jiffy lube for inspection, and they gave him this huge list of what had to be fixed in order to pass. i think the total was like $300 (which he didn’t have). he took it to a friend to review the “recommendations” and was told that most of it wasn’t necessary. his friend also found one thing that jiffy lube didn’t. his friend hooked him up with decent used parts and fixed the car for like $60. car passed inspection at a different station. i hate when companies try to gouge consumers for no reason

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11 eemusings October 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS shop around when it comes to cars! Second quotes, second opinions….you will be amazed almost every time, I promise.

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12 Serendipity October 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm

This happened to me with my old Toyota. Pep Boys told me my oil pan was smashed and my axels were severely damaged ( ummm) and it was going to cost 1,200 to repair. I took it to a different mechanic and it turned out the gasket on the actual pan was stripped which was 30 bucks. And my axels were fixed for 150. Add some labor and I was at 270. Pays to shop around, especially for a car.

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13 doctor S October 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm

What is that saying … “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” ….

Yeah well so is the damn bill! Automobiles are the biggest sham in this world aside from a government job! They have issues and codes that only can be read with equipment that mechanics have. Each mechanic is going to tell you a different damn story. Makes me sick, so I bought a damn Check engine light reader myself, read the codes in and do some research on google to get the real story straight.

Good thing you got that next opinion there J$. Didn’t want to see the Caddy go bye bye!

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14 Molly On Money October 12, 2010 at 9:13 pm

My car needs some transmission work that my mechanic is telling me will cost at least $1500. My 11yr old just advised me today to get a second opinion. I listen to J Money and my 11yr old- you are both SO smart!

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15 Everyday Tips October 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Oh my gosh it is a giant pain to call around, but it is almost always worth it. I hate when I get a mechanic’s estimate because no matter what, I feel like I am getting ripped off.

Great job- enjoy your savings!

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16 BruceBucks October 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I think this is a great reminder. My wife and I are looking for new tires, and I went to Discount Tires to get a quote. I shouldn’t just settle for that original quote, I could get another estimate from Evans tire, and propose them the quote I received from Discount Tire. Make the two companies fight a little for my business. Thanks for the reminder.

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17 Pretty Unfamous October 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Was the $3000 price tag at the shop you had the emissions test done? If so, they probably get away with charging higher prices because most people are too lazy to go anywhere else to fix their problems! But great job with looking around. I’m glad it saved you a bundle!

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18 Andi B. @ Modern Tightwad October 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Something that helps with mechanics is don’t ask what’s wrong with the car, because then you’ll get a laundry list. For something like not passing smog/DEQ ask them what the minimum repair you can do that will most likely get you to pass. The difference between those two questions can be immense.

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19 J. Money October 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

It’s been over a week and I’m still giddy from passing inspection!!!!

@CityFlips – Ooooh I like that! I do the same when getting crappy managers on customer service calls – I just call back at a different time until I get someone with a better attitude ;)
@Kevin @ Thousandaire.com – Haha, and it sure would help w/ the ladies!
@Techbud – Trust is most def. key with body shops.
@MainlineMom – Me too! Esp when it’s mine :)
@Brad Chaffee – I know, that’s the only thing I DON’T miss about VA! Haha… I really want to move back there actually.
@Fred Schebesta – You the man!
@Jenna – Win-Win after the annoyances ;)
@Frugal Rich Life – Damn, great job on that. I always forget about Yelp. Plus, it seems everyone here in the DC area just complains all the time and I get tired of hearing all the negativity – even if they’re justified. Although maybe when it comes to mechanics I’d pay more attention.
@sandy @yesiamcheap – Haha… yeah, it was more for the time spent and these other things they did in order to bump up the price I had to spend (I needed to reach the $450 total limit so I could get the waiver if I failed). I could have actually gotten a mechanic friend to do it for me, but then I wouldn’t have any receipts to back it up :(
@michelle – Ouch. Yeah, never been a friend of Jiffy Lube’s. Now, the “Lube Center” on the other hand is hot. I think they’re a DC area chain, but they’re usually pretty good. And SUPER friendly which is refreshing.
@eemusings – I promise people will like reading your blog too ;)
@Serendipity – Great job!
@doctor S – Ooooh I think I’ll need you to come over and check out all the lights that are still ON in my car! haha… “Service SSS” “Check air conditioning” etc etc, haha… one step at a time!
@Molly On Money – haha… LOVE your 11 year old! you should have him guest post for you one day :)
@Everyday Tips – Hate that feeling too – even when you get a good deal you kinda wonder if you’re getting ripped off :(
@BruceBucks – Yeah dog, do it! I guarantee you’ll get a lower price.
@Pretty Unfamous – Nope, in MD they have separate stations set up specifically for Emissions :) Gotta go elsewhere to fix it, which is kinda good and kinda bad.
@Andi B. @ Modern Tightwad – For sure, good point.

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20 Kay Lynn (Bucksome) October 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

Jay, we did the same thing when we interior painting done at our home. There were thousands of dollars difference between two of the quotes. Guess which one we went with? :)

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21 J. Money October 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm

The more expensive one! :)

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