Especially with summer arriving, we travel, and need to make sure the vehicle is working well.

Consumer Reports says there's five tips that can help you discern if just maybe you're being ripped off.

1) compare your vehicle's schedule maintenance recommendations in the owner's manual, or what came from dealer; with what the mechanic is suggesting. If your mechanic says you need a 'lot' more checkups etc, they might be milking you for money.

2) If a quote for a repair or part seems 'high' or excessive, shop around. Get other opinions and information about whether that alternator is going to set you back $900 bucks!

3) If the mechanic keeps replacing parts in search of a permanent fix.  As Consumer Reports said, if it seems like your guy is rebuilding your car, he might be what's called a "parts replacer."  That's someone who can't fully diagnose the true issue, and keeps replacing parts until the issue is gone.

4) If the mechanic tells you it's not unusual to go through parts faster than you think.  If you're guy tells you (for example) "this type of car goes through starters faster than usual,"  it's often a sign of shoddy workmanship, and lack of quality effort. No car ever built was 'designed' or prone to go through certain parts on a regular basis. Some cars are lemons, but they're designed to last in general.

5) You have to bring your car to the dealership for maintenance and repairs.  This may be true in case of recalls, or if it's still under certain warranties. But in general, it's not a hard and fast rule. Explore all your options before you just knee-jerk and do that.