- Describe your Problem Accurately.
Describing your problem fully will help your technician make a correct assessment. Tell them whether or not the problem is constant, if it only happens when you’re doing certain things to the clutch, gas, or brake, and anything else you can think of. The more detail, the better. See if your technician will take a drive with you in your vehicle and give you a preliminary assessment.
However, if after looking at your vehicle your mechanic recommends more than one part to fix a problem, be wary. While not entirely impossible that problems necessitate multiple parts, there is usually a one-to-one ratio between components and problems. Dishonest mechanics know they can get paid more for swapping lots of parts because they get to charge more for labor time. Someone who “troubleshoots” by continuously swapping parts is not qualified to repair your vehicle and is probably just trying to make a quick buck.
- Ask them what their specialty is.
While you can get competent repairs from almost any honest repair shop, you should always take your car to a specialist, if possible. A transmission repair specialist knows the ins and outs of how to rebuild your transmission. Why take it to someone who works on alignment, drivability, or maintenance? Technicians can specialize in several fields, so make sure that once they’ve diagnosed the problem with your vehicle, they’re qualified to deal with it.
- Ask about “extra” work unrelated to your main problem.
If your mechanic wants to sell you “tune ups” (for vehicles made in the last ten years) ask what exactly they consist of. Newer vehicles need oil changes, new filters, drive belts, and spark plugs. That’s it. Often, if they’re talking about tune-ups, a dishonest mechanic means doing work that’s only appropriate for older vehicles. Also, if they want to sell you brakes, they may be trying to get a couple extra bucks out of you. Mechanics will often insist you need new brakes long before new ones are truly necessary. Since brakes wear down, it makes sense logically to many customers that they need new brakes. However, brakes can function perfectly for a lot longer than some mechanics will lead you to believe.
Be sure to check out our article on how to tell if an auto repair shop is honest for even more suggestions not covered in this article.