Don't Get Swindled When Your Car Breaks Down

Automotive expert and spokeswoman Barbara Terry breaks down the five most important things to know so you don't get taken for a ride when your car lets you down.

It's a situation no one wants to be in, but one that every person who owns a car will inevitably face sooner or later: What do you do when your car breaks down? We enlisted the help of car expert, nationally known author, columnist and TV/radio host, and spokeswoman Barbara Terry to tell us what to do when you're stuck at the side of the road. (And, even better, how to prevent that from happening in the first place.) Listen to this self-proclaimed grease monkey ("I grew up with six big brothers," she told us, "and in order for them to pay attention to me I had to do what they were doing!") as she breaks down what you need to know.

1. You should have a working knowledge of your car…

"We should all have a certain level of understanding regarding our cars. I’ve always really stressed the fact that, whenever you buy a new or pre-owned car, you should grab the owner's manual. Spend a Saturday afternoon and really get to know what your car is about. After all, cars are typically the second most expensive item people invest in!"

2. …But there's no way to know everything.

"No matter how versed you are with your car, there are going to be repairs that you are not able to do. Just recently, I had to get a repair on one of my Jeeps. It was a transmission repair, and I don't currently have a lift in the garage that I'm at in Washington. I had to take it to a shop."

3. The breakdown will happen when you're least prepared.

"Your car doesn’t typically break down when it’s in your garage. It will break down when you're rushing to an appointment or a sale at your favorite shopping center. It's always stressful."

4. You need a way to know what repairs should cost.

"The average consumer spends typically around $1,000 a year just on regular service. So we need to help consumers and car owners answer the question: Are you paying the right price, are you not?'s innovative fair price estimator tool will let you know if you are paying a fair price. And, while I’m talking about pricing, obviously repairs in Chicago are going to cost more than repairs in Lakeworth, Texas. The tool takes location into account."

5. You should pay attention to reviews.

"With the service and repairs feature, you can look at what people are saying about the local mechanic in their neck of the woods. Reviews are extremely important. I pretty much buy everything online. The first thing that I do, whether I need a new water filter or whatever, is look at reviews. Or say I was a guy taking a girl out on a romantic date—I would totally want to make sure it was a success and not a dud. Finding a mechanic is no different!"

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