The best way to avoid auto mechanic rip offs is to be involved.  You don’t have to know a lot about cars to protect your pocketbook, all you need to know is how to be curious and interested in your own financial investment.   Look up the cost of that timing belt online and compare to what you’re being told. Did they order the part for you? Ask for proof it’s a new part and not a used one.  Do you feel pressured? Get out of there.

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