Has something like this happened to you or someone you know? You take your car in for a routine oil change or brake job and the mechanic comes back with a list of other repairs you need to have done. Or, maybe your car breaks down in an unfamiliar area, and your vehicle gets towed to the closest mechanic or repair shop where you’re presented with an unusually high bill and/or estimate for repairs.
What do you do? Risk driving an unsafe vehicle to another repair shop for a second opinion, or call a friend to come pick you up while your questionable repairs are being made? How do you know if those repairs are as critical as the mechanic claims, or if the repairs are legitimate at all?
Sadly, as with all professions, the expected quality and trustworthiness you desire in an individual or business will vary. Here are a few indicators you can use for a “gut check” to help you make your determination as to whether or not your mechanic is on the up-and-up:
- Credentials: Current credentials, certificates of operations, and any licenses required will be properly and visibly displayed for all patrons to see and verify. If nothing is displayed, do not hesitate to ask.
- Communication: Mechanics need to allow you the time to get your questions answered. Ask detailed questions about what kinds of cars they specialize in, if they’ve done your type of repairs before, how long they’ve been a mechanic and worked there at that particular shop, etc. If they avoid your questions or won’t give you the time you need, you should be wary.
- Itemization: For reputable repair shops, estimates are typically free, and full repairs required along with an itemized price list for parts and labor will be discussed up front prior to any repairs being made or time billed. Being presented with a bill for expensive repairs you were not aware of after they are done is not a reputable way to conduct business.
- Guarantees: Will they provide you a written guarantee of their estimate (meaning that the price won’t change once they get in there to do the work), and guarantee any work they do on your vehicle?
- Verification: Ask to see the broken or damaged parts that are listed in the estimate, along with where that part was taken off your vehicle.
The important thing is to trust your gut instinct while not allowing yourself to get pressured into expensive and possibly unnecessary repairs. If you don’t feel confident that your car is safe to drive, it may be worth the investment of an additional tow so you can get your vehicle to a mechanic you trust for a second opinion.
Be on the lookout for next month’s article that will give you some great tips on how to find a good mechanic you can trust. Until then, drive safe out there, and if you have any questions at all about your vehicle or potential repairs, stop by and ask. We’re always here to help!