Ask This, Not That: What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Ask Your Mechanic

When it’s time to turn over your car keys to a mechanic, a feeling of panic might strike. It’s even more stressful when you know little to nothing about cars. Regardless of your automotive expertise, one easy way to reduce anxiety and increase your level of confidence when working with a new mechanic is to ask the right questions

Openbay is here to make your auto repair journey as hassle-free as possible with this list of some things you should ask, and a few you shouldn’t the next time your vehicle needs repair or maintenance. 

Questions to Ask a Mechanic (And Some to Avoid)

Whether you’re headed to a local mom and pop repair shop or a national service center, here are the questions you should (and shouldn’t) ask.

Ask This – What Certifications Do You Have?

Any reliable technician is Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified. This proves they have the expertise and relevant experience in their field. On top of that, they need to undergo regular training to retain these certifications. 

If you head to an automotive dealership service department, the technicians are also required to partake in factory training. This gives them the expertise needed to work on specific makes and models. 

Ask This – What are my Repair Options?

When you take your vehicle in for repair, there might be more than one solution. Some auto mechanics try to push you into one route without telling you about your other options. Be clear that you are open to learning about all possibilities and that you need more information before making a decision.

It’s okay that you aren’t an automotive expert. Your mechanic should know that an educated customer is the best kind of customer. If they aren’t willing to explain the problem and all possible solutions, they shouldn’t be repairing your vehicle. 

Ask This – Can I See the Old Parts?

Anytime an auto repair leads to a part replacement, it’s completely acceptable (and encouraged) to ask for a glimpse of the defective component. Not only does this help you understand the need for a new part, but it also keeps the auto repair process as transparent as possible. When a mechanic isn’t willing to show you the problem, you have every right to move on to another shop.

To be clear, we aren’t suggesting that you take the old parts with you. All we want is for you to  feel empowered and confident in your car repair experience. 

Ask This – Are the Parts or Service Covered by a Warranty?

Not all warranties are created equally. To avoid a situation where you’re stuck footing the bill for a recent automotive service that didn’t actually fix the problem, find out the shop’s warranty policy. Many shops guarantee some parts, services and labor for up to 12 months or 12,000 miles, but you can’t always assume that’s the case. Warranty policies can vary greatly from one service professional to another, as can warranties for different auto parts. 

Don’t Ask This – Can You Tell Me Everything That’s Wrong With My Car?

If you’re planning a road trip or you just bought a used car, your best bet is to have a mechanic look it over. This is a logical first step for many vehicle owners, but be careful with your wording. Saying something like “just do whatever it needs” leaves you vulnerable to costly, unnecessary repairs.

If the technician is only looking out for their own best interest and financial gain, they might try to upsell you or replace parts way too soon. For example, the mechanic might claim that it’s unsafe for you drive without replacing your shocks or struts, or they may try to sell you a new tire rather than plugging a puncture. Ask them to make a list of repair priorities. First, check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations. Then, take that list to another mechanic for a second opinion

Don’t Ask This – Do You Think it is the…?

Don’t cheat yourself by trying to sound like a technician. In our digital age, you will most likely Google your car’s symptoms before you take it to the shop to get an idea of how much it will cost and how long it will take. You might be tempted to share Google’s diagnosis with your mechanic. But your best bet is to leave the diagnosing to the experts. 

Don’t Ask This – Why Can’t You Do the Job at ____’s Price?

Would you automatically choose the cheapest doctor when you need an important surgery? Of course not! You want a reliable, trustworthy and educated professional to get the job done. The same is true with vehicle maintenance and repair. 

When you need more complex repair work, such as an engine rebuild or transmission repair, you’ll want to remember this: you get what you pay for. Often the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Remember that mechanics have the right to set their labor rates based on aptitude, certifications and experience. 

Also, keep in mind that just because a shop charges $20 less per hour doesn’t mean the job would be cheaper. If the technicians aren’t as skilled, it might take hours longer to perform the job. 

Don’t Ask This – Can I Buy My Own Parts?

Auto repair businesses have long-standing relationships with auto parts suppliers, which means they can call in favors for quick deliveries from local parts-distribution centers. Those suppliers receive training on the latest technology, and will often recommend superior parts for the job. 

Plus, the shop takes on too much liability when you bring your own parts. If the shop installs a part you buy and that part fails and causes an accident, the shop could be held legally liable. For that reason alone, many shops will decline installing customer-bought parts.

You Don’t Have to Navigate This Alone

Thankfully, there is a way to get transparent, hassle-free auto repair in just a few clicks. Openbay makes it easier than ever for vehicle owners to find a reliable mechanic nearby and book repairs with confidence. Plus, you’re covered by the Openbay Guarantee to ensure quality, honest work done at a reasonable cost. Sign up for free at openbay.com or download the free iOS or Google Play app.

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