There are two extreme categories of car owners: You have those who don’t want to be bothered with car repair questions at all and either hand it over to professionals or simply buy a new when their car needs repair. On the other end you have the amateur mechanic who simply loves to dig in the car and can’t get enough of ‘do-it-yourself’ car repair.
Getting our car serviced or repaired can be one of the most stressful activities that we undertake. Because of the apprehension most people have with repair shops and garages they often feel that they are being taken advantage of because they do not understand the details behind the repair itself. It is no wonder that our opinion of garages and mechanics ranks up there with that of used car dealers. You can help alleviate this stress and become a more informed consumer by knowing what questions to ask the next time you get your car repaired.
When taking your car in for repair one of the best tools you have available at your disposal is the power of competition. For major repairs you should get at least two or three quotes on the cost of work involved. Reputable shops will understand this and will often price their services competitively because they want to gain not only your trust, but your business. By using the Internet you can research any needed repair and find out the details behind it as well as regional pricing for your area which will further help your ability to communicate with your mechanic.
Next, for any repair always ask that the old parts be returned to you at the completion of the work. Again, most reputable shops have no problem with this request and understand the reasoning behind it. It’s unfortunate, but true, that dishonest shops will often charge consumers for repairs they never make. By asking for the old parts back (and getting that request put in writing) you are protecting yourself as well as letting the garage know that you are going to verify the work was performed as requested.
Always make sure that any repair, as well as diagnosis, is put in writing for you to review. Don’t settle for a simple line-item such as “Replace water pump”. Ask that they write out the diagnosis and exactly what part (and part number) was replaced. This is extremely useful if you ever have to confront them about a repair or dispute the repair with your credit card company or in a court of law.