CHICAGO (CBS) — The price of gas isn’t the only worry for drivers. Unexpected repairs can really add up.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker explains how to find a good mechanic for the best price.

Sinora Wright’s 2010 Ford Fusion recently went into the shop for brake repairs

The Wright family did their homework before settling on mechanic Rich Reichenberger. He gave the lowest estimate to replace the rear brakes on Sinora’s car.

“Finding a mechanic like Rick is a plus,” Sinora said. “He’s fair, very knowledgeable.”

Getting the repairs at the dealership would have cost $310. A major chain wanted $292. As an independent mechanic, Reichenberger charged $252, saving the Wrights at least $44.

Asked how he can afford such a low price for the repairs, Reichenberger said, “My overhead isn’t terribly high. You know, there’s myself and I still am hands on with the business, and that helps because I’m not sitting at the office.”

Roger Krugoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook said, “Independent Repair shops, on average, score substantially better than dealers.”

Consumers’ Checkbook is an consumer magazine that recently interviewed thousands of customers and rated the best and worst auto repair shops in the Chicago area.

“Independent repair shops, on average across all of them, were rated favorably by about 83% of their customers. That compares to about 65% from dealerships,” Krugoff said.

Krugoff said he believes independent mechanics do a better job, because it’s their only service, whereas dealers have other options for making money.

Whoever you choose for your car repairs, Krugoff said you can improve your chances of getting the best job by being prepared.

“Write down a detailed description of the symptoms, what’s wrong, why you’re bringing it in, what does it sound like, what does it smell like?” Krugoff said.

Reichenberger also suggested asking whether a mechanic can safely repair a part, instead of replacing it.

“Saving this part, turning it and making this part remain useful, this is a way to save money,” he said.

One more tip: Make sure you attach a description of your car’s problem to the work order. That way any mechanic who fixes the car will know what to do.

With their savings of $44 on the brakes, the Wrights now have saved $2,343 through the Survive This Economy series.

If you want to know how your auto repair shop was rated by Consumer Checkbook, click here for a special link just for our viewers. But it’s only going to be up for a week, so hurry.

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