Your car has been going strong for a few thousand miles, but you’ve noticed that something feels off about it recently.
You suspect your wheels are out of alignment, you need to have your brake pads replaced, or are concerned that there’s a problem with the engine.
While most of us can change a tire and even conduct minor car repairs on our own, for larger issues, you should absolutely hire a mechanic. Don’t make the common mistake of going with whoever your family recommends or booking the first mechanic that appears in online search results.
If you want quality work, you need to know the right questions to ask a mechanic that will allow you to determine their skill set.
Read on to find out what they are.
1. What Is Your Experience with My Make and Model?
What’s the very first question you should ask your mechanic?
How much experience they have in repairing, upgrading, and maintaining your car.
Remember, these experts should have experience with not just your car’s manufacturer, but also with the specific model. This is even more essential if you’re having work done on a foreign vehicle or luxury car.
Now is also the time to make sure the mechanic is licensed to perform auto repairs. If they’re not, there’s a good chance that they won’t just fail to fix the problem, but will end up making it much worse.
Finally, ask about any training/certifications they’ve received. They should be ASE Certified, have proof of graduation from trade school, and should be doing more to continue to develop their skills.
2. Does Your Work Carry a Warranty?
Any mechanic worth their salt will be happy to stand behind the quality of their work by offering customers a warranty on their service.
Many unscrupulous “mechanics” don’t offer a warranty—or offer an incredibly brief one—as a money-making scheme. We suggest that you consider reporting mechanics without a warranty to the Better Business Bureau to protect yourself and other consumers.
In general, the warranty should last anywhere from 2-6 months, depending on the specific service. Make sure you know if it covers parts and repair work, or just the service alone.
3. Do You Have Insurance?
This one is pretty simple: you should absolutely not work with a mechanic that does not carry insurance.
The mechanic should have insurance policies in place that protect your car in the event of an accident as well as the mechanics themselves. You don’t want to end up footing the bill for an injury a mechanic sustained while working on your vehicle, and you don’t want to have to pay for repairs you didn’t cause.
A mechanic without insurance is not a professional.
4. Will You Return My Old Car Parts?
Many people don’t consider asking an automotive repair question about what will happen to their old car parts—but you absolutely should.
First of all, asking the mechanic to provide you with these parts means you’ll have proof that they were actually replaced.
Unfortunately, untrustworthy mechanics sometimes claim that they’ve purchased new parts. In reality, they’ve just doctored your old ones up so they run for a few more months—so you’ll have to come back in to figure out what the “real problem” is.
Plus, asking for a mechanic to return your car parts gives you the opportunity to sell them and make an extra bit of cash to cover those repairs.
5. What Is Your Strategy for My Car?
It’s important to ask a mechanic what their estimated diagnosis and maintenance/repair plan is for your car.
Yes, you want to get a feel for how long the repairs may take and how much they’ll cost (more on that below), but it’s about more than that.
Asking questions like this allow you to understand the mechanic’s overall experience and level of professionalism. If it’s clear they are planning on tinkering around under the hood until they find a solution that’s “good enough,” it’s time to walk away.
A qualified mechanic should be able to tell you what’s wrong with your car and give you more than one possible solution. Avoid mechanics that don’t give you several different choices for your car repairs, as this usually means they’re trying to make you believe the most expensive option is your only one.
6. How Does Will Billing Work?
Depending on the nature of the repairs as well as how many repairs your car will need, your mechanic’s rate could be anywhere from $80 to $100 an hour.
In some cases, the mechanic may instead elect to charge you a flat fee for their work.
Make sure you understand how your estimate will be calculated, and whether or not it includes the cost of new parts. Also ask if you’ll need to pay your bill in a lump sum, or if you can break up the payments over the course of a few months.
Before You Hire a Mechanic, Ask These Questions
While there are plenty of honest and skilled auto repair and maintenance experts out there, the sad truth is that there are quite a few scammers, too.
Make sure you ask any mechanic you’re considering hiring these questions before you sign any kind of contract. You may also want to read online reviews about their past work and speak with references to confirm that they’ll provide you with the level of service you deserve.
Interested in learning how to handle basic car repairs on your own? Our blog is packed with DIY tips that will allow you to be your own mechanic.
When you’re ready to buy a new car, make sure you check out our buying guide to ensure you make the best possible choice.