It shouldn’t be complicated to go to an auto mechanic. After all, you ‘re just taking your car in to get repaired, and fixing it should be easy and straightforward, right?
Well, sometimes it is. But at a time when the mechanic is trying to explain what’s wrong and how much more it’s going to cost than you originally thought it would, it can turn into a confusing time when you don’t know if you’re taking advantage of it because you don’t know enough about cars.
And you’re not supposed to be. You just want the car to be fixed and running well, at a reasonable price. To help ensure you don’t get ripped off, there are some questions you should ask a mechanic whenever you take your car in. Here are 10 of them:
1. Do you have experience with cars like mine?
While it’s a common belief that mechanics can work on every vehicle that enters the auto repair shop, the truth is that some can and others specialize in some makes. Older and/or less commonly found vehicles are often repaired by specialized mechanics. Even if a mechanic is unable to work on your vehicle, ask if they can recommend a different repair shop.
2. How much will the diagnostics cost?
This is like first asking your doctor how much the tests will cost before you get a diagnosis of why you feel sick. While it may seem like an odd question, because you’ve gone to the trouble of taking your car to the mechanic, and you obviously want it to be repaired, you don’t want to pay too much for the tests. But if it’s too high, it’s a good opportunity to shop around for better prices.
3. Can I get a written, out-the-door estimate?
Always ask for a written estimate of the cost of the repairs. Parts, labor, taxes and any discounts should be included. Always give them a phone number to reach you to approve another repair that might be needed, and make sure they give you an estimate of the additional cost.
4. What could happen if I don’t have the repair done?
It’s true that some repairs do not require immediate attention, but others should not be ignored or postponed. Ask a mechanic if your particular repair needs prompt attention or if it could be handled within a few thousand miles.
5. What repair options do I have?
The majority of vehicle issues can be addressed with a variety of approaches. Unfortunately, some mechanics are trying to drive customers to the most expensive — or complex, which often means expensive — repair. Ask the mechanic about all possible solutions and explain them in depth. That way, you ‘re going to have a full picture of the options and be able to make the best decision.
6. Can you show me what’s wrong?
If a mechanic insists that you need extra work done, ask them to show you the wear and tear on the part that they recommend to replace. If you ask to see the holes when you say that the car needs a new exhaust and the mechanical balks, then you should be wary.
7. How did you fix the problem?
This question is a great way to start building a personal relationship with a specific mechanic. It gives them a chance to explain, in technical terms, what the problem was, how it was discovered, and what methods or how it was repaired. Plus, once the relationship is started, you can have the same mechanical work on the vehicle every time — this means that you’ll learn any particular features that the vehicle may have and immediately know how to handle it.
8. Do you offer a warranty?
Depending on the repair shop, you may receive a warranty or guarantee for the work performed. The guarantee is the promise that specific criteria, such as specific repairs, will be met. If the repair had failed, for example, the mechanic or shop would have repaired or replaced the work. Many guarantees are structured in the same way, but vary in the choice of words used.
9. When will the repairs be done?
Get an idea of when your car will be ready to pick up, and make sure you’re called to approve any extra repairs beyond those that you’ve already approved. You ‘re going to want to know how long you ‘re going to be without your car, so you can make other accommodations. Also, ask if they can give you a ride to your home or work while your car is in the shop.
10. What repairs do I have coming up?
While you’re not supposed to expect your mechanic to predict the future, they should have a good idea of the potential repairs and major maintenance costs you’ve come up with.
By Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3177569
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