Monday, July 3, 2017

4 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic Before Agreeing to Engine Work



You’re driving down the highway, eyes on the road, when something appears in your peripheral vision. It’s the glowing orange “check engine” light that every driver fears and despises. You sigh. Suddenly your commute home from work or your weekend road trip isn’t so simple—you know it’s too risky to leave it unaddressed.

It’s time to find a reputable car repair shop—either through an internet search, or by asking around to find a solid recommendation from friends or family. You bring your car in, and after an appraisal, the mechanic approaches you. What do you say?

Here are four questions to ask your mechanic before agreeing to engine work. Remember: You’re no car expert, but you don’t have to just nod along and give the green light to anything the mechanic tells you.



Does this Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) require a repair?


The check engine light alerts you to a problem, but does not tell you what it is. Each time this light on your dashboard turns on, a Diagnostic Trouble Code is recorded. Your mechanic will base their recommendations and estimates on the DTC.





As one professional technician writes for HuffPost, it’s a well-kept industry secret that some DTCs don’t actually require repairs. Some issues won’t necessarily damage other systems or diminish your gas mileage. But you’ll never know unless you ask your mechanic what the code means and how it could affect your vehicle’s operation.


Can you explain and point out the problem?


Good mechanics know they establish trust when they walk you through the problem and explain their proposed solution. As Automatic Transmissions writes, “You wouldn’t let a doctor operate on you without looking at the x-rays first. So you shouldn’t let a mechanic work on your car without showing you what the problem is first.”

The more you know, the better chance you have of making an informed decision when it comes to repairs. 


Will you provide a written estimate?


Unless you and your mechanic have a close professional relationship spanning many years, it’s not enough to agree to a verbal quote. Get it in writing. Imagine how shocked and upset you’ll be if the final bill is twice the initial verbal estimate with no clear-cut explanation. 

You’ll kick yourself for not having it documented, but you won’t have a foot to stand on. It’ll be your word against the mechanic’s, and if you want to drive your car out of the repair garage, you’ll have to pony up the cash.

Your vehicle is a significant investment and part of your daily life. Think about it: When you buy a car, you ask for its specifications and the total price in writing before you sign on the dotted line. 

When you insure your vehicle, you compare car insurance rates online first so you can examine quotes in writing before picking the best policy. Similarly, before you get your car repaired, always ask for a written estimate up front. Doing so also gives you a basis for comparison if the quote seems unreasonably high. 


When will I be able to pick up my vehicle?


You might assume your repairs will be done within 24 to 48 hours, but always double check up front so you can plan for alternate transportation. After all, you don’t want to be calling the garage a week later begging for your car back so you can resume your daily travels.

Asking your mechanic these four questions before agreeing to engine work or other repairs will give you the confidence and power to make informed decisions at the auto shop, and will help you stay in the loop regarding your vehicle’s progress. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask!



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