Do You Ask the Right Questions? - Milstead Automotive
by: Amy Milstead
Your mechanic or auto repair technician should possess the same qualities that you expect from your doctor and dentist; namely trust and reliability. Car owners have a lot at stake when seeking vehicle maintenance and repairs, it's very important to find the right auto repair technician. There are three categories of inquiries you should make about his business: the skill level of the workers, the price of the work being done and, finally, the policies and extra services. Let's take a look at the some recommended questions.
Does your service center specialize in a particular type of car or a particular type of work?
Without it being explicitly written on a sign outside the garage, many service technicians will admit they do their best work on a certain make of car or certain repair job. It’s pretty standard that most automotive service centers will be able to change the oil, test batteries, and rotate tires. However, for extensive work on imports, specialty vehicles, or fleet vehicles, you may want to ask beforehand. Make sure you know what your garage's strengths and weaknesses are.
A good mechanic will always give it to you straight: if you don't need to replace a certain part, they will tell you. Of course, they should also be able to notice when urgent work needs to be done. Always ask questions or bring up any signs of problems your vehicle may be exhibiting. These could seem trivial to you, but your mechanic may be able to diagnose deeper causes.
Can I get an itemized invoice and an explanation of what needs to be done to my car?
Unfortunately, invoices from repair shops can be difficult to understand. Before technicians start working on your vehicle, specify that you would like a detailed breakdown on your invoice of the repairs to be done. This way, you’ll know what has been done, and make sure any unauthorized repairs are not performed.
In the event that you get an invoice showing all the different repairs that turns out to be several pages long, ask for your technician to point out what was removed, replaced and repaired. Feel free to ask to see the old part that was changed.
What payment policies and guarantees do you offer?
Every automotive service center has different labor rates, warranties, and payment options. Don't forget to ask about the warranty on any new parts or replacements. Four months down the road, you don't want your transmission to fail and find out that it only had a three-month warranty. Keep all bills of service through the length of the warranty for proof of service.
What is included in the service?
Not all service centers are created equal. If you are unfamiliar with the particular service or service package you are getting, make sure you ask for a full rundown of what will be done with your vehicle. Some oil changes may include fluid checks and inspections, but don’t assume this has been done. Ask your mechanic to check anything specific you may have concerns about. For instance, if you are having your tires rotated, ask your mechanic to visually check your brakes. Ask your service center if they have any automotive clubs or package deals that could save you on a bundle of services if you get them all at once. This is also a smart way to save on added trips or labor costs.
Am I getting the proper maintenance for my driving habits?
Last, but definitely not least, make sure you are communicating your driving habits to your mechanic. If you do a lot of long distance driving you may not fit into their normal standards for oil changes or other routine maintenance. Make sure you understand how your driving habits may alter things like your gas mileage, tires, and life of certain components in your engine. This way your mechanic will understand what parts may be under added strain and keep an eye out for any signs of preventable wear and tear.