If it is time to bring your vehicle in for maintenance or if you endured an accident, you are likely a bit hesitant to have someone work on your car. After all, you rely on your vehicle to get to work and just about everywhere else. Keep these five tips in mind when getting auto service for your ride.

auto service

Modern Day Auto Service

1. Focus on Communication

Customers who can clearly describe what is wrong with their vehicle will ultimately benefit in the end. If you are not familiar with “auto speak”, don’t fret! Take some time to write down exactly what is wrong with your vehicle. If you notice particular sounds, odors, handling problems or other issues, describe them in detail with pen and paper. This is especially important for vehicles that require extensive service.

Make a note of how the vehicle functioned just prior to the onset of problems. As an example, if your vehicle stopped running, write down exactly what happened in the moments before it gave out. Make note of noises, vibrations and other happenings that can help the mechanic’s repair effort.

It will also help to dig into your files to determine when you last brought your ride in for servicing. When in doubt, err on the side of over-informing the mechanic. Arm him with as much information as possible and you will stand a better chance of having your car fixed to perfection.

2. Do Some Homework Beforehand

Allying with the auto shop closest to your home or the one with the lowest rate is not always the best decision. Let prospective auto shops’ records speak for themselves. Take a look at reviews on the web. Consult with your local consumer protection services. Once you have dug up some information on prospective mechanics you will be able to whittle down the field based on reputation as well as cost.

3. Request a Written Estimate

If a mechanic refuses to provide a written estimate, move on to the next candidate. The auto shop should also be willing to contact you if it is determined that the written estimate is anticipated to increase due to new discoveries or complications that occur mid-job. The additional work should only be performed with your approval. Make sure this is perfectly clear to the mechanic before giving him your business. You can even protect yourself in writing by penning the following on the service ticket: “Repair/service job not to exceed [number] dollars” and “Auto shop must contact [your name] if the repair/service job increases 10 percent or more.”

4. You Deserve an Understanding of the Labor Rate

The auto shop’s hourly rates should be completely transparent. If the hourly labor rates are not posted, ask to see them in writing. The shop will likely use one of three major “labor tables” that explains the typical number of hours the repair/service project is expected to take. If the estimate seems egregiously high, ask if the shop can use another labor table that has a lower rate.

5. Your Vehicle’s Used Parts Might Have Value

Most people do not request their old vehicle parts back after new ones are installed. They figure those old parts are useless and have no value on the secondary market. Do not hesitate to ask the auto shop if the the replaced parts have “core value”. This term means the parts have the potential to be rebuilt and put up for sale on the secondary market. If the mechanic requests to keep your old parts, you have every right to ask for compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.