In this installment of Car Care Tips, we’ll look at how to get it fixed right the first time.
Previously, we looked at the care and feeding of our cars. Now it’s time to get some work done. You might be wondering how to find a good mechanic you can trust. The easiest and most reliable way that I’ve found over the years is to ask your friends, relatives, and co-workers. I did this a number of years ago and found an auto shop that I explicitly trust for all our mechanical work. They don’t over prescribe work, and they fix it right the first time, no returns.
If you are new to an area and aren’t sure about a local mechanic, you can check the AAA listing of recommended shops in your locale. Another service is the Better Business Bureau, to see if they have any complaints on file. Check the business for National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence certification. Test it out with a small repair or preventive maintenance.
If this is a large repair, get multiple opinions. Ask friends what sounds reasonable. Do some web research to check for chronic problems with certain autos? Don’t necessarily go for the lowest price.
There are a number of items that you should do before you leave your car at a shop.
Make a list to cover each point of concern.
Fully detail the car’s symptoms:
- What sounds abnormal?
- What smells unusual?
- How does it act?
- What happened before or after the car stopped running?
- Are symptoms consistent, or are they sporadic?
I’d advise to describe symptoms only! Make no diagnosis. If you do, you with service you don’t need.
Ask the mechanic what the specific problems might be. Ask them for a detailed explanation, what needs to be repaired, why, and what it will cost.
Don’t authorize repairs until you are satisfied they are reasonable and fair. Get a written estimate if possible. State that additional repair must be authorized before they are preformed. Stipulate on the work order: “Save all replaced parts for your inspection.” Get all warranties in writing. Pay with a credit card as a hedge against faulty service.
By doing some basic homework and proper vetting of an auto repair shop, you can get your car fixed right the first time at a fair price.