Things you need to know when talking to the mechanic shop!
Knowledge is power. Do you feel as if sometimes you are being pressured into purchasing repairs for your vehicle when you seem to take it in for a simple oil change? Then you are fed a line for which you cannot completely understand? Well with a little bit of knowledge about your cars repairs, you could save yourself a lot of money.
How you ask? As a mechanic for some 40 years and Automotive Columnist for over 24 years, I have been preaching the Basics on automotive repair to many who have learned how.
No need to take college class on auto repair, you just need to learn some of the very basic of information and have them double check. Those coupon specials or gimmicks get you in the door only for the shop to find other things wrong with your vehicle, which is these types of shops, can pay for the giveaways.
What you need to know.
1. “Get that engine flushed right away or its toast.”
Beware if your mechanic’s idea of “scheduled maintenance” bears little resemblance to the recommendations in your owner’s manual. Some shops “build the ticket” (translation: pad the bill) by recommending extra and often unnecessary procedures, such as engine and transmission flushes, or by scheduling some tasks prematurely. These types of generic repairs can be premature and unnecessary.
2. “That rebuilt Alternator will cost you $499.99
Before you agree to any repairs, call around to see what the part will cost and also check other shops on what they will charge for the same repair. You might want to have a second opinion. You might remember a friend or family member had the same repair for less.
3. We thought the part replaced would fix it?
Oh-no, you are dealing with a shop who seem to be parts replacers and not very knowledgeable on diagnostics. Paying for their training can be extremely costly to the consumer. Make the mechanic justify the initial repair. Even if it was an honest misdiagnosis, the shop should refund the amount of the first repair or discount the next one. If the mechanic gets the diagnosis wrong again, stop replacing parts and replace the shop.
4. Your particular car needs a new starter every year.
Not so fast. This may be a tip-off that the shop did the work incorrectly or used poor-quality or makeshift parts instead of proper ones. Call some other shops to find out what they think or check the Web to see if there’s a discussion group devoted to your model and its problems. You might also want to take the car to another repair shop for a second opinion. If the original job was lacking, ask the shop that did the work to repeat the repair either without charge or at a substantial discount.
5. You must bring your car back to the dealer for all your repairs.
Not true. The Dealership Service Center is important when needing a replacement for a repair that is covered under warranty. As for all the other repairs, this can be done at your own discretion. Don’t be intimidated into thinking they are the only ones that can care for your cars needs. Find a reputable service shop that is trained in the type of repair your vehicle needs.
6. Finally, How to talk to your Mechanic.
Getting the right repairs at a fair price depends partly on communicating with your mechanic. Here’s what to say and to expect:
• Describe the problem fully. Provide as much information as possible. Write down the symptoms and when they occur. If possible, talk directly to the mechanic who will be working on your car.
• A mistake many car owners make. Don’t offer a diagnosis. Avoid saying what you think is causing the problem. You may be on the hook for any repairs the shop makes at your suggestion, even if they don’t solve the problem.
• Try validating the problem. Request a test drive. If the problem occurs only when the car is moving, ask the mechanic to accompany you on a test drive.
• Ask to see the failure. If you’re not comfortable with the diagnosis, ask the shop to show you. Worn brake pads or rusted exhaust pipes are easy to see. Don’t let the mechanic refuse your request by saying that his insurance company doesn’t allow customers into the work area. Insist on evidence anyway.