Questions to consider when hiring a mechanic

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6 min read

It’s the end of the week and you hop on your computer only to realize your browser is overwhelmed with mechanic-related tabs, and your search history is littered with the word ‘mechanic.’ Dread washes over you. Ohh yeah, it’s the seventh day in a row trying to find a mechanic. You’ve come to the conclusion that taking your car to the dealership is far too expensive, and are having trouble figuring out how to know if a potential mechanic is the real deal.

When the clock is ticking, and anxiety is increasing, what questions do you need to ask yourself––and your mechanic––to ensure your car repair is set up for the smoothest journey ahead? Here are the 10 most important questions that can help set you and your four-wheel drive up for success.

questions to ask your mechanic

what do you think the issue could be?

You’ve narrowed down potential mechanics, so now is the time to give each a call and discuss your car’s issue. If you’re tech-savvy, consider using an online mechanic for diagnosis. Describe what’s going on and gauge how the mechanic responds. This can provide you with insight––”Is this shop all that knowledgeable?”

will my diagnosis be free?

This is extremely important! You’re now working with a mechanic and that person provides you with an estimate, whether over the phone or in person. That took time and energy––but was it considered on the clock? Ask this question upfront so that you’re not paying for car repair plus the additional 30 minute conversation about it.

do you provide written estimates?

Call us old school, but we call it smart. Your mechanic provides you with a (free) estimate and works out a price you’re feeling good about. You end the conversation––or hang up the phone––only to realize that the estimate was given verbally. Now let’s say you take the car in, have it serviced, and arrive to pick it up and pay. The total has increased drastically, and you’re left with an argument that starts with, “Well this person said…” Don’t be that customer. Always ask for a written estimate. A signature next to it is even better.

have you worked on my model car before?

Comfortability is huge. Familiarity provides comfortability with ease. If your mechanic has worked on your model car before, chances are that person is going to be very knowledgeable about the car, as well as little tidbits of information that could potentially save you money (and the mechanic time). It will also give you peace of mind. A mechanic familiar with your model is only a good thing. Don’t let someone talk you into using your car as a professional test run.

what’s your better business bureau rating?

Oftentimes, this will be posted outside of the auto shop. You can ask your mechanic to point you to it, or look it up on the Better Business Bureau’s website. This rating will provide good insight as to how the business is run and if the shop is worth spending your time and money there.

questions to ask yourself

is this the best mechanic within my price range?

You already know that taking your car to the dealership is too expensive, but are you looking at mechanics that are best for you in your price range, or simply the cheapest option. We believe that price can dictate skillset, comfortability level, and communication style. So while the cheapest option may save you money––in this present moment––it’s not necessarily the most strategic option, especially if you consider your car a long-term investment.

is this person certified or master certified?

A certified mechanic is good news, but a mechanic that has a master certification is ever better news. All mechanics need to be certified under the Automobile Service Excellence, an independent, non-profit organization that provides voluntary testing and certification of mechanics. Mechanics that receive Master Certification have received certification in all eight areas under ASE. For cars, this includes Engine Repair, Automatic Transmission/Transaxle, Manual DriveTrain & Axles, Suspension & Steering, Brakes, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Heating & Air Conditioning, and Engine Performance. If your mechanic is wearing this badge of honor, this could be a great match for you.

do I trust a personal recommendation or various online reviews?

You’ve been scouring the internet for days at this point, and you could really use another  perspective. Post on social media, hit up a group chat, or text a close friend, inlaw, or co-worker about your dilemma and if they have any leads. If you value the opinion of someone you know vs. the masses of strangers that make up the internet, this may be the route for you. In this case, quality (friends) over quantity (reviews) isn’t the case––but it is another option.

is the shop and its surrounding environment treated with respect?

Just like a restaurant, the quality of the auto shop’s interior––lobby, bathroom, etc––speaks to the shop’s overall integrity. Are these spaces well-maintained? Are they kept looking and smelling fresh? Or are they unkempt and unorganized? Cutting corners in one part of a business relates to all parts of a business, so make note of this.

is my car even worth repairing?

Maybe after scouring the internet (or reading articles like ours) you’ve come to the conclusion that your car isn’t worth repairing at all. If you’re toying with the question of whether “to fix or sell my car,” We’re here if you decide to sell––using Peddle, of course. If you’re still on the fence, we also have another article that can help to decide.