What You Need to Ask a Mechanic

When it comes to getting the family automobile fixed right the first time take a few steps before the repairs begin increasing your chances of reaching this goal. It’s nice to talk to the actual person that will be working on the vehicle. Not all shops will allow this but they should. If they do, this is what you need to ask a mechanic.

Ask general questions about the mechanics experience

Many shops will let you have a short conversation with the mechanic working on your car. If you’ve already established a relationship with this business you probably know the mechanic and his basic qualifications. Since auto repair shops often employ more than one mechanic and some as many as 20 there are chances someone you’ve never met before will be carrying out the diagnosis and repair.Although the questions you ask this person should be tailored to the type of car problem you’re having some general questions can also be asked. Have a basic list prepared that includes things like, is the mechanic certified and in what areas. How long they worked at this particular repair center and where they worked before this job. Total years of experience turning wrenches is another reasonable thing to ask. These answers start to shape a nice history of this persons work experience and ability to handle your problem.Tailoring questions to the kind of car problems you’re in for will make a lot more sense than wasting the employee’s time by asking general things like are they married. As an example let’s say the vehicle has a check engine light and an intermittent stalling condition. Since the repairs will be charged on a time and materials basis the expertise of the mechanic in this particular area of diagnosis can affect the total cost.

What if They are Incompetent?

If the mechanic is a trainee or has never dealt with a check engine light customers might pay for the learning curve of diagnosis. You want to be respectful but you also want to find out if the assigned repair is within their skill set. It is not your job to pay for training. You’re paying for the car to be repaired by a professional. In the end its okay for a trainee to work on your automobile but make sure you talk to the service manager and come to an agreement with them. Often shops will charge the customer a flat fee for diagnosis and let the new mechanic learn a few lessons, knowing the skills he learns will pay them back in the long run.

Ask questions about the car repair

In the example above of a check engine light and stalling condition there should be some diagnosis to approve before the job begins. The shop at this point should call you for additional diagnosis approval or to review the repairs that are necessary to solve the problem. This is where the customer can jump in and be pro active by asking a few educated questions.When it comes to reviewing the cost of repairs you will most likely be speaking to a service advisor or Manager so they can lay out total parts and labor costs. Find out the exact numbers for parts and labor and write them down. You are looking for the business to stick to their original estimate. Ask about additional charges such as waste disposal fees or shop supplies. After confirming the total notify the shop that you expect the original documented complaint to be solved for this number we’ve reached together. At this point a lot of shops will not commit to this and will use words like, "well this is what we’ll do and then we’ll go from there". Laying out the repairs and not promising anything to be fixed can be a slippery slope for the customer. Why not ask to speak to the mechanic and get their point of view on whether they believe the problem has been pinpointed without doubt or is this educated guess. When you nail repairs down to replacing specific parts often these components can be tested individually. You want to confirm that the shop and the mechanic have taken every step possible to determine these components are defective. Ask the mechanic what tests he ran or why he believes this part will solve the complaint.

Should I Get a Second Opinion?

Ask a mechanic with no skin in the game for a second opinion. There are many places online where you can ask an experienced mechanic if the estimate received seems fair and makes sense. Not only can you find experienced technicians online but you can find people that specialize in Brands or type of problem. You can post questions in Manufacturer forums and do basic searches looking for drivers that are dealing with the same problem on the same car. A second opinion from an online mechanic might cost a few dollars. It depends on the situation and the speed at which you need an answer. In either case it’s a good investment in getting the vehicle fixed right the first time.

Knowing what you need to ask a mechanic can give you a better chance at getting complex problems fixed on the first visit. Force the shop to take ownership of the repair by asking them to stand behind their diagnosis fixing the complaint. Drivers need to be proactive and aggressive with auto repairs not shy. Do some research to see if other people are experiencing the same problem on the same type of car. Take advantage of the Internet and get a second or even third opinion from manufacturer forums and online mechanics that answer questions for the general public.