It’s okay if you are a little clueless, a conversation with an expert can be sometimes daunting but don’t worry we are here to help you ask these five crucial questions that will help you get the best repair for your vehicle and also the most value for money.
1) “Could you explain to me what is wrong with my car”
You won’t understand what’s wrong with your car if you won’t go in detail. Letting the mechanic explain allows you to develop more relevant questions in return and that will help you find a better solution for you and not what just mechanic suggests. Believe me that what is best for you may not be the best for a mechanic. Detail explanation from one mechanic would help you take a second opinion and match if the first assessment was correct. Having the mechanic explain the problem helps you in keeping the mechanic accountable, all of their advice and suggestions would then need to be backed by logic and not just hunches; hunches increase bills.
Additional question: “Do you understand why I’m here?”
This can be important because mechanics may have trouble understanding what you want and what issues you’ve with the car. Open communication and blunt questions like these help in getting on the same page.
2) “What should be prioritized?”
A single trip to the mechanic might make you feel that your car is about to burst up in flames if you don’t get all the problems repaired but this is where you should remain calm and ask what should be prioritized. It is the mechanic’s job to identify the faults but some faults can wait. It is better to prioritize in moments like these to save yourself from a huge bill at the end because asking them to fix everything can be a much larger investment. Pro Tip: Don’t get everything repaired at once, try to check the mechanic’s work quality first by giving him some of the repair work.
3) “Are there any alternatives?”
It’s one thing to have a list of faults ready to be fixed by the latest most expensive parts but all of that can deplete your wallet very quickly. What you need to ask is, if there are any alternatives to these “big repairs.” One thing I have learned from my experience of over a decade is that there are many shortcuts or easy workarounds that a mechanic would not outrightly say but a little digging into the matter would help you find a better alternative. Mechanics can be brilliant salespeople and push you towards a product that may not be urgently required by you, In case of that you should always negotiate with asking for alternatives, you will probably find a cheaper alternative.
4) “How much time would it take?”
You need to get a timeline from the mechanic or else you can wish your weekend away. Your time at a mechanic is crucial, you need clarity when dealing with mechanics as it can get extremely complicated sometimes due to the whole repair process has many steps; from the insurance claim to buying parts and a lot of paperwork sometimes as well. If you do end up extracting a timeline from your mechanic, make sure to add some time for human errors as well. Most of the time these timelines do get push ahead but having one helps you keep the mechanic accountable and your day organized.
5) “Can I have a cost estimate? It would be great if it is in writing”
Cars can be expensive and we do not have infinite money to keep spending on maintenance. Having an estimate will help you make better decisions, you’ll have a better understanding of what parts to buy, what repair can be pushed back, what repair needs the best quality and if you should even get your repair fixed from this mechanic. Getting a cost estimate would help you do a comparative analysis and help you choose the best mechanic for your car and wallet.
Additional question: “Will you charge to diagnose the problem? If so, how much?”
Some mechanics do charge extra for diagnosing the problem, our advice would be to find a mechanic that does not charge for diagnoses if this is a regular checkup. If you do feel like there is something majorly wrong with your car and you cannot just point your finger on what that is, only then take it to a mechanic that would charge for diagnosis because the opportunity cost is too high in this situation.
Always be extremely aware that the mechanic can rip you off. Asking these questions would help you not get scammed or waste your precious resources such as time and money. We do realize that finding a good mechanic can be extremely tough but being more aware as a customer can give you a huge advantage in your dealing.