Maintaining a good relationship with your mechanic is almost as important as maintaining your car, and a big part of that has to do with communication. Being able to ask the right questions when bringing in your vehicle for a check-up will help ensure that you are aware of any current issues and potential problems so that you can avoid nasty surprises down the road.
Here are 5 questions you should ask your mechanic when you’re in the shop.
How much life is left in my brakes/tires/oil?
Some parts and fluids in your car will need to be replaced on a regular basis. Called ‘consumables’, these are items like your tires, brakes, oil, and engine coolant. Oil change intervals are determined not just by how many kilometres you’ve driven, but also how long it’s been since the last change, and what kind of conditions you find yourself driving in most often. Furthermore, a simple visual inspection can determine how much wear your brakes and tires have undergone. Your mechanic should be able to offer you a rough timeline for replacement based on your current driving habits so that you can plan for these expenses.
Does my vehicle have any trouble spots I should look out for?
Some cars and trucks have certain repairs or maintenance issues that crop up on a regular basis. Mechanics are well aware of these problems since they encounter so many vehicles in the course of their work. They can help you figure out if there are specific things you should be paying attention to, or if you should be on the look-out for early symptoms of a more serious problem. Sometimes an unusual sound or a strange vibration can warn of a future repair. It’s best to be aware of what could happen in the future rather than being caught by surprise.
Can I get a written estimate?
Before any work is done on your car, ask for a written estimate identifying the job to be done and costs for parts, labour, and if applicable, disposal or environmental fees. Your mechanic should not have an issue providing you with this information. It makes their job easier by outlining exactly what you should expect before the work gets started.
Consider reviewing any applicable provincial legislation regarding your consumer rights – especially provisions that are specific to repairs. On occasion, the labour required for your vehicle repair could exceed the estimate – especially if your mechanic discovers another issue once the work gets going. Before you agree to anything outside the scope of the estimate, your mechanic should definitely contact you and explain the situation. If you are unsure, ask for a note to be written on your estimate that states that you want to be contacted immediately in the event that additional parts or labour may be required.
Is there an alternative?
Your mechanic will typically present you with the best solution for a given problem with your vehicle – one that fits their perception of your budget and the quality of the repair you are looking for. It never hurts to ask if there is an alternative that might be more affordable or faster to implement, whether that involves installing used or rebuilt parts instead of new, or only repairing essential parts of a given system. Just make sure that the alternative is safe and reliable.
What is the warranty on this work?
All vehicle repairs come with some type of warranty on labour and parts. Usually, the warranty on labour is shorter than that for the parts themselves, with even rebuilt parts offering a respectable guarantee. Make sure you get the warranty on parts and labour in writing, as part of your estimate, before you agree to the job.