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Q: Why is it that every time I go in for a $40 oil change I come out with a $500 bill? Michael says....
Any decent auto technician can find four or five grand worth of legitimate work on most cars—especially after the warranty period is up—to get the car up to prime condition. The trick is to find an honest tech who will clearly spell out what needs to be done now, what should be done soon, and what can wait. Cars are usually good at communicating when something is not right with them—pulsing brake pedals, vibrations in the steering wheel, etc.—but sometimes you just have to trust your technician. Good ones are best found through word of mouth, but there are also reliable referral programs from CAA (caa.ca) and the Auto Protection Association (apa.ca).

Michael Bettencourt test drives more than 100 new vehicles a year and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Send him your car questions here