It is absolutely necessary research car repair shops to prevent being the victim of price gauging or fraud. But it can also be frustrating, since most customers are not mechanics, don’t know the language and might be intimidated by that lack of knowledge. When searching for the right shop, ask yourself these important questions.
Are All Mechanics Certified Auto Technicians?
With certified technicians, you will rest easy knowing that your car is in capable hands. They typically must pass rigorous training classes to receive the certification.
With What Kind of Association Is the Garage Affiliated?
Associations hold a garage to a strict code of ethics. A repair shop that is part of an association will make sure to deal with a customer ethically.
What Is the Hourly Rate?
Not only will you have to pay for the part, but you’ll also pay the labor costs for the mechanic to install it. Find out the hourly rate; not all garages are the same. Certified technicians come at a higher cost, but remember that you’re paying for peace of mind, too.
Is the Garage Licensed?
Check to see whether repair shops in your state need to be licensed. The Attorney General’s office will have information on whether repair shops need licensing to operate.
After you’ve chosen the repair shop you’d like to investigate further, arm yourself with knowledge of some car repair language. It’s important to know the essential parts of your vehicle so you’ll understand the work being done on it.
Not all parts are the same. Parts are classified into three categories. Most customers assume that they are paying for new parts, but that’s not always true.
New Parts: These are original parts or parts made by the manufacturer of the vehicle. They are often more expensive than other parts.
Re-Manufactured, Reconditioned or Rebuilt Parts: These parts have been restored to working condition. They are generally cheaper than new parts and have a warranty from the manufacturer.
Salvage: These parts are taken from another vehicle. These used parts may or may not be reliable and contain no warranty.
Some garages only install new parts. Other garages might offer reconditioned or rebuilt parts. Ask the garage what kind of parts they use on repairs.
Diagnostics and Written Estimates
If you decide to get a diagnostic done on your vehicle, make sure you clearly state to the mechanic that you wish for a written estimate before any work is completed. Unfortunately, some disreputable garages will get a car on the lift and disassemble it before detailing major work that needs to be done immediately. Customers can be frightened into completing work for a high cost.
If you’re in doubt or feel pressured, ask to have the car reassembled and take it to another garage for a second opinion.
After researching and finding a reputable repair shop, make sure to help your mechanic understand the problem. Common sounds can indicate problems, but you’ll need to know how to describe the noise correctly. For example:
Squeal: A sharp noise relating to the speed of the engine. Could be a worn belt.
Click: A click noise could be a loose wheel cover or bent fan blade.
Screech: A sound that usually occurs when braking and indicates a worn break pad.
Rumble: A low-pitched rumble could be a muffler problem or a worn universal joint.
Clunk: A sound especially prevalent when going over bumps or potholes. Indicates a loose suspension or loose muffler.