Taking your car in for service can be an intimidating experience. Modern cars are expensive to maintain and most of them require special tools and equipment to repair. With all that being said, almost everyone has a horror story when taking their car in to get serviced. You can empower yourself with the knowledge and the confidence to make sure that you’re getting the work done correctly. There’s a few questions we recommend vehicle owners ask the mechanics when getting their car serviced. These simple questions can help you avoid paying too much for car service and avoid unnecessary repairs.
1. “Can I meet the mechanic?”
Meeting face to face with your mechanic is very important, especially if it’s someone you plan on going to for future repairs. It shows them that you really care about what’s happening with their vehicle and it also gives you a way to put a face with the person putting the wrenches on you car.
Taking a few minutes to ask the mechanic what they drive, how long they’ve worked there and some of their experiences, really goes a long way to build a great relationship between vehicle owner and mechanic. And if things go well, you want to make sure that it’s OK that you ask for them on the next service. Now if a service station won’t let you talk to the mechanic, this isn’t a deal breaker, but it might raise a red flag. We always recommend getting to know your mechanic and if they won’t let you, perhaps this isn’t the best place to have your car serviced.
2. “Can I see the problem?”
This might very well be the most important question that you can ask. It’s sad to think that there are mechanics out there taking advantage of people, but we all hear the stories. Having the mechanic or the service advisor take you back into the shop and show you the failure on your car really does reduce the chances of that happening. And while you may not understand all the parts of a car or how all the systems work, this opens the door for you to get an explanation of how this stuff works and this will help you better understand your car. If a shop won’t show you the problem or give you a full explanation about the failure on your vehicle, this should raise a red flag that perhaps they’re not properly equipped to work on your vehicle.
3. “Can you help me prioritize this list?”
Often when a car is brought into the shop, there’s multiple things wrong with it. Having the service advisor or mechanic help you prioritize the repairs is vital. Generally, the most important are going to be safety-related repairs. From there, we like to get the things taken care of that, if left neglected, can lead to even more expensive repairs. A good mechanic should be honest with you about what needs to be fixed right away, and what might be able to wait.
4. “What happens if I don’t make the repairs?”
Now this one can be a bit of a touchy subject. It is the service department and the mechanic’s job to tell you what’s wrong with your car and tell you what can happen if you don’t make the repair. But this can lead less than credible shops to maybe blow out of proportion what would otherwise be a minor repair. This scare tactic may lead someone to making a repair on their vehicle that they really don’t need right now, which ties in to the previous question. But, it’s also the case that there are certain repairs that, if left neglected, can lead to catastrophic damage or can lead to very serious safety issues, and you definitely want your mechanic to be blunt with you about that. If not replacing or repairing something could lead to an accident, you need to know.
5. “What’s the warranty on this repair?”
There’s no such thing as a perfect part, so you want to make sure that when you’re getting a repair done on your vehicle, you’re getting repair done with a warranty. The best-case scenario is a warranty that covers both parts and labor if there is a failure. Make sure that you have the terms (in months and miles) of the warranty. This is one that it’s critical to make sure is in writing. If your mechanic has confidence in his work and the parts, he should have no problem offering you a decent warranty.
Bonus Question 6. “Are there any coupons?”
Generally, service departments run coupons either online or in the store. Simply asking the question might lead you to a little bit of a discount. If not, you could be missing out on some potential savings, so it’s worth taking the extra minute or two to ask. Hey, the worst thing they can say is “No.”
We hope that you find these tips and questions useful. Even if you have your own mechanic that you already take your car to, these are important things to know about each repair. They can help you better understand your car; better know your mechanic; and hopefully take the mystery out of car repair.