Have you ever been driving down the road and started to notice a weird noise coming from your vehicle? Perhaps you were recently in a car accident that involved damage. You’ll need to take your car to a repair shop to diagnose and repair issues.
Finding a mechanic you trust can be a challenge, especially if you’re not mechanically-inclined. Use these seven questions to help you find a trustworthy repair shop for your vehicle.
1. Is the Shop Certified?
Find a repair shop that is certified to make the repairs your car needs. One of the most common certifications is the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or ASE. Technicians and mechanics must take continuing education classes and pass tests to receive an ASE certification.
Looking for a shop with a professional certification helps you find mechanics who are trained to make safe, quality repairs. A shop that isn’t certified by an independent organization may not have the training needed to repair your car.
2. Has the Shop Worked on Your Make and Model of Car Before?
It’s usually a good idea to work with a mechanic that has experience working on cars similar to yours. Ask a potential shop if they’ve ever serviced your make and model of vehicle. For example, a shop that specializes in domestic pickup trucks probably isn’t the best choice for your foreign sports car.
On the other hand, you can choose a shop that works exclusively on your brand or type of vehicle. Some shops have brand-certified mechanics and technicians who are experts in your particular type of car.
3. Can You Get a Free Estimate in Writing?
Make sure you know if a repair shop will estimate repairs to your car for free. Many shops offer free inspections that diagnose problems before offering a repair estimate. Some shops, however, may charge a fee to run diagnostic tests. Find out what is included in the diagnostic fee and how it is charged, such as a flat charge or hourly rate.
Regardless of whether the shop charges to diagnose your car’s issues, ask for a written estimate to make the repairs to your vehicle. Most shops are happy to give you an itemized breakdown of the parts and time needed to make repairs. You can compare estimates from multiple shops to help you find the one that fits your budget and repair needs.
You’ll want to ask for an itemized bill once repairs are completed as well. Compare your estimate with the final bill and look for discrepancies. If you find extra charges or unknown repairs added to your bill, ask the shop to explain them before you pay.
4. How Long Will Repairs Take?
It’s often worthwhile to ask how long a shop expects a repair to take, but remember that each case is different. Some repairs or services, such as an oil change or other car maintenance, are routine enough that the shop can give you an almost exact timeline. Serious repairs or auto body work, such as repairing a door after an accident, are much more difficult to estimate.
Remember that car repair timelines are flexible. A delay in obtaining parts, the current workload of the shop and holidays can cause repairs to take longer than expected. As the shop works on your car, they may find more damage that needs to be repaired. Ask your shop to let you know if they find additional damage so you can approve any extra repairs and changes to the timeline or cost estimate.
5. Does the Shop Provide a Rental or Loaner Car During the Repairs?
Depending on the severity of the damage, it could take several days or even weeks to repair your car. Being without your car could be a major hassle in your daily routine. Ask your repair shop about potentially renting a car while repairs are made. Some shops have loaner cars specifically for customers while others may partner with a rental car company.
If you have comprehensive or collision coverage, you can also add rental car coverate to your car insurance. Rental expense coverage helps pay for a rental while your car is in the shop due to a covered accident.
6. Do Repairs and Replacement Parts Come with a Warranty or Guarantee?
Some shops offer a guarantee on their repairs for a set amount of time or miles after your car leaves the shop. For example, a repair shop might guarantee the parts used to repair your car for 12,000 miles or 1 year from the time repairs are made. Be sure to ask how long any warranties last and a detailed list of what is and isn’t covered by the warranty.
Even if the shop doesn’t offer a guarantee, many parts manufacturers provide a warranty for replacement parts. Ask your shop about potential warranties on the parts they used to repair your car.
7. What Payment Methods Does the Shop Accept?
Most repair shops let you know their payment policy when they give you your repair estimate. This is a good time to check what payment options are available. Some shops may not accept certain types of payments, such as credit cards. If your repairs are covered by your car insurance, be sure to ask if the shop accepts checks from the insurance company and how it should be addressed.