Catherine Hiles
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7 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic Before Your Next Repair

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female mechanic working on a car

You know the feeling of dread you get when your car takes just a split second longer than usual to turn over, or that squeaking sound coming from your brakes starts to get louder? You know you should take your car in to get checked out, but you also know that it’s likely you’ll be hit with a costly repair. And if you don’t know your mechanic, how can you trust them to be honest and not try to charge you for repairs you don’t need?

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Next time you need a repair, make sure to ask your mechanic these seven questions.

1. Are you ASE certified?

Mechanics can get certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence through a series of tests. Possessing this certification is as good as a guarantee of quality and increases the likelihood of a job done right. Your mechanic may also be certified by the Automotive Service Association or AAA. Many mechanics and service centers will display these certifications so you can easily see whether or not they are likely to be trustworthy.

2. Do you know my make and model?

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss driving down a dirt road
The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss
Photo: Chevrolet

While most trained mechanics can do the basics, such as oil changes or tire rotations, on any type of car, it’s a good idea to find one who knows your specific make and model. For example, General Motors trains mechanics at its dealership franchises to service Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles. This is especially important if you have a vehicle with a lot of unique features.

3. Do you provide written estimates?

Ask if the shop provides written estimates when giving your vehicle over to avoid the potential for hidden charges. Some states require it by law, but it is always wise to ask beforehand. You should be able to discuss the estimate with the mechanic before giving approval to go ahead with the recommended repairs.

4. What is your warranty on parts and labor?

Despite whatever certification the shop may boast, be certain that the shop offers a sufficient warranty on parts and labor. Standard warranties tend to run around 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, but it’ll depend on the manufacturer and the service center if it’s not affiliated with a specific automaker.

5. Can you provide me with references?

Male mechanic talking to a female customer

Feel free to get personal. Ask your mechanic about their experience with repairs, how long they’ve been working on cars, and what customer feedback has been about their work. The more experience and the more positive feedback, the better. You can also look on review sites like Google, Facebook, and DealerRater to see what customers are saying about the mechanic.

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6. Do you use OEM or replacement parts?

Dealership service centers almost always use Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM, parts. These parts are designed to fit your specific vehicle, so they are always a good bet. But they tend to be more costly than generic parts. If you’re trying to save money, you may want the option of using generic, or replacement, parts. Ask your mechanic which they use and whether or not you can choose between the two.

7. Can you explain like I’m 5?

Car lingo can be confusing if you’re not familiar with automotive parts and terms. Ask your mechanic to explain the issue and the fix to you in as simple terms as possible so you can better understand the process.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, so ask these important ones before you hand over the keys.