Taking a car in for repairs can throw even the most even-tempered of people into a maelstrom of concern.
First and foremost, there’s the simple convenience issue. This is a boring task that you wish you didn’t have to do; no one is lining up a mechanic visit with an excited twinkle in their eye. You’re doing it because something is wrong with your motor. You might also be faced with the inconvenience of having to kill a couple of hours while the work is done or – in the worst case scenarios – go without your car for a few days.
Then there is the trust factor. This trust takes two forms. The first is a simple, human one: “I really hope this person looks after my car”. If your car is your pride and joy, then the idea of someone doing something to it can be more than a little disturbing.
Then there is the biggest factor of them all: trust. We have all heard the horror stories about the mechanics that give them all a bad name. The mechanics who will wilfully overcharge customers for fixes to problems that don’t exist. Or the really bad mechanics, who will claim to have done work they haven’t. ~Then there’s the worst of the worst; the autoshop that says it has done work but has done it badly, thus compromising our safety when we’re out on the road.
As a result of all of the above, you can find yourself churning over with concern when you hand over your car keys. It’s one thing if you know what the issue is and have an idea, even with your limited car knowledge, of what it’s going to cost to fix. It’s all the worse if you don’t know; if you have only been able to describe the symptom without having any idea of the disease. You can find yourself being told what the issue is, seeing the bill, and realizing that you’re in a situation when you need a loan quickly because getting back on the road isn’t going to come cheap.
Given the expense and the safety concerns over getting any auto work done correctly, are there any steps you can take to keep things as safe as they can possibly be?
#1 – Research The Problem
Often when something goes wrong with a vehicle, it won’t be the first time it’s happened to an owner of that make and model. So give yourself some idea of the issues you’re facing by looking for dedicated forums for your car model. Describe the issue you are experiencing and ask fellow owners what the fix was, as well as an idea of what it will cost to repair. This comes in doubly useful when you do get a quote; you have a hivemind you can run the costs by and see if they add up.
#2 – Research The Mechanic
A quick Google search of the company name and – ideally – the name of each individual person who is going to work on your car could solve a lot of safety concerns. If they have a bad track record, then the chance of them being able to keep that off the internet is very slim. So do some research and check social media, just to make sure there are no obvious red flags.
#3 – Ask For A Full Breakdown Of Costs
Don’t just agree a fixed price when you are told a round figure. Ask for a written transcript of the quote for the repairs, which should include a breakdown of what’s for parts, for labor, etcetera. A full rounded price has not been properly costed, and thus might be being plucked out of thin air – to the mechanic’s gain.
If you don’t like the price, then you can always ask for it to be explained. Unless you have a solid background in mechanics, something might legitimately cost more than you think it does. The key thing to watch out for when you ask this is how the mechanic responds to your request; are they open and honest? Or do they seem shady about filling in details? If it’s the latter, then that’s a heads up that something isn’t quite right.
So while it will never be easy to hand over your card into the hands of someone else, at least there are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself. With significant repairs there’s often a lot of money at stake, so don’t be shy about doing your due diligence before you spend.