Is it a good idea to use Groupon, Scoopon or other 'deal of the day' websites to organize car maintenance and servicing?
November 21, 2011 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Is it a good idea to use Groupon, Scoopon or other 'deal of the day' websites to organize car maintenance and servicing?

Although my car runs well, it is twelve years old with 190,000kms and will almost certainly require more maintenance than it used to. Due to financial considerations I've used these coupon sites twice this year for scheduled servicing and maintenance (not actual repairs). Each service was at a different mechanic offering these deals, and each charged me about $40 extra for things like oil, wiper blades, coolant, etc. (These potential extra charges were in the fine print, I've checked against other invoices and they are reasonable prices, and I'm happy to pay this. To be clear, I'm not asking how to change my own oil, etc. Those are just examples.)

So I'd like to know if it's a bad idea to use one time 'deal of the day' websites to buy coupons for heavily discounted (eg. 50%-90% off) regular car servicing. Are they well known scams, do they deliberately cut corners? Do mechanics check the log book and see that I have a history of 'mechanic shopping' and then do a second rate job? Is it ill advised to go to a different mechanic each time, because then the mechanic can't build up a 'relationship' with the car?
posted by UltraFleece to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think my issue is more with your burden than the mechanic's behavior. Instead of finding one mechanic whose work and referrals you trust, you have to:

a) keep track of when to do all maintenance,
b) find coupons:
b1) that may be used when you need the work done,
b2) that are from reputable mechanics. You have to vet all of them.
c) constantly say no to extra work while you are there.

I don't think a good mechanic will cheat you on a deal, but it's so much easier to just work with one fairly-priced mechanic you trust and hopefully enjoy random kindnesses and advice from the mechanic every now and then in lieu of coupon discounts.
posted by michaelh at 11:31 AM on November 21, 2011

Best answer: In my experience, good mechanics rarely run any coupons at all, other than the pass through stuff from a manufacturer or supplier. They are busy enough as is. Also, establishing a relationship with a trustworthy mechanic means they'll fit you in when they are busy, they will send you home without charging you when they can't replicate a problem, since they know you'll be back when the problem reoccurs. I can't count the number of times over the years I've brought my car in, only to have them tell me they can't hear the rattle or whatever and send me on my way. Also, when I bought a new(to me) vehicle a couple of years ago, they didn't charge me for the pre-purchase inspection, because I am a regular customer.

Two new shops have opened up within 5 minutes of my house this year, and they have inundated me with coupons. I have not even considered changing mechanics. An auto tech you can trust is worth way more than a cheap oil change.
posted by COD at 11:50 AM on November 21, 2011

Best answer: I have a general rule of using groupons, etc for goods but not services. I jist think a cutrate haircut/lasik/car repair probably isn't worth it. YMMV
posted by atomicstone at 11:59 AM on November 21, 2011

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