As winter approaches, now is a great time to start thinking about car maintenance so you’re prepared for the changing season. Bringing your car to a mechanic can be confusing, overwhelming and even intimidating. To help make the experience positive without expensive headaches, there are a few simple things to consider when taking your car to a mechanic.
Do your research
Protecting yourself and your car starts before you actually arrive at the garage. Do as much research as possible. Your owner’s manual has valuable information about maintenance. Having a basic understanding of your car and its needs can be a huge asset when discussing repairs or negotiating cost. It can also prevent you from falling for “easy solutions” offered by some garages, such as certain fluid flushes or cleaning your fuel injectors. Some repairs don’t need to be done unless your car has covered significant distance, and others you may be able to do yourself. Your car maintenance manual can offer suggested changes based on kilometres driven to help understand what needs to be replaced and when.
Part of your homework should involve shopping for a mechanic. Ask friends, coworkers or family for recommendations. Check online reviews to get an idea of what different mechanics offer and be sure to read customer feedback. Don’t feel you need to commit to the first garage you visit. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion, especially since car maintenance can be expensive. A good mechanic is confident in their work and will never talk you out of getting another opinion.
When you first arrive, look around the garage for certification or proof of qualifications. A good mechanic wants to gain their customers’ trust and will have certifications or industry affiliations openly displayed. If you don’t see them, ask your mechanic for proof of credentials. Treat your visit as an interview between business professionals and get as much information as you need before agreeing to any work.
Your mechanic should be able to provide an assessment of things that needs to be repaired or replaced. If your mechanic starts putting pressure to make an immediate decision or uses scare tactics regarding repairs, treat as a warning and research other options. Your car maintenance manual can offer guidance when your car requires immediate attention. As long as your car is still safely running, you can visit other garages for a second opinion. If your car is important to your daily life, be sure you’re comfortable with any repairs or maintenance being done.
Don’t forget to ask the mechanic about warranties for their work, regardless of the type of repair.
Request estimates in writing
Before any mechanic begins work on your car, get an estimate in writing. This will help to ensure you and the mechanic are clear on the work required, what has been completed, and the charges. If you notice multiple labour costs, ask if these jobs can be done at the same time to eliminate extra charges. Make sure you keep any paperwork in case any problems arise in the future with the repairs or maintenance. You’ll want to be able to show proof of what work has been completed.
Check with your dealership before committing to an independent mechanic working on your car. If one of the parts on your car is faulty, there may be a chance it’s covered under a dealer-factory recall, and replacement or repairs would be at no charge. One quick phone call could save you unnecessary expenses.
If any parts do need to be replaced, be sure to ask for the old parts back. It might seem strange or uncomfortable to ask, but it’s the only way to be certain the parts are replaced. Good mechanics will not be concerned by the request and will understand you just want to ensure replacement of the parts.
While you’re getting your car ready for winter, now is a great time to review your car insurance. A quick call to a BrokerLink broker can help to answer any questions and review your coverage to ensure you are properly protected before you hit the snow-covered roads.