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4 Questions to Ask a Mechanic

From ordinary oil changes to horrible noises you can’t explain, auto service and repair is a fact of vehicle ownership. These are some questions that can help you navigate mechanic lingo so you can protect your car and your wallet.


What’s your experience with cars similar to mine?

Some repair shops specialize in particular makes and models of vehicles. This is especially true if they’re older, less common or more expensive to repair. Other mechanics can take more of an all-make, all-model approach. Ask ahead of time to establish your mechanic’s familiarity with your vehicle.


Do you have references?

Some of the best referrals often come from coworkers, friends and family members who have had a positive vehicle repair experience. Online review sites may also provide some= insights. In addition, mechanics may obtain professional certifications such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) seal, which indicates training and testing minimums.


Can I have a copy of the estimate?

The answer should always be yes. The estimate should be signed by the mechanic and include all parts and labor totals. Ask the repair shop to go through each line item with you and explain it clearly — and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Also find out whether the repairs are recommended or essential.


What are my options for parts, and can I choose what you use?

There are often different price points for some car parts. Some car parts may be made by the manufacturer (often referred to as original equipment manufacturer or OEM parts), while aftermarket parts are made by a different company. And some parts may be covered under a warranty; ask about that, too, and get the details in writing. When it comes to these decisions, you should have a say in what the mechanic uses. In addition, if during the repairs the mechanic runs into something unexpected that wasn’t on the original estimate, they should always get your approval.

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