It’s natural to be a little nervous when you bring your car in for repairs: work can be costly, and the quality of that work can have an effect on the function and safety of one of the most expensive things you own. Asking these questions will help you better understand what needs to be done to your car and what you can do if something goes wrong.
What Types of Vehicles Do You Work On?
For the most part, American, Japanese and Korean brand cars require similar tools and skills to repair, but European cars often require special tools and equipment. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Dually trucks, RVs, and other commercial vehicles may not fit in their shop. If your vehicle has an unusual feature, the mechanic may not have the experience or tools to work on it. Diesel engines, four-wheel drive systems, air suspensions and hybrid powertrains usually fall into this category.
Do they have experience with older vehicles? They may seem simpler, but they can require a different set of skills and tools to repair. A shop that can work on fuel injection systems may not be able to rebuild and tune a carburetor.
How Much Will an Estimate Cost?
Shops will usually do free estimates for most repairs, but there are always exceptions due to time and equipment required. The mechanic should know what it will take to find out the source of the problem and let you know up front.
What is the Repair, and Why is it Needed?
A good mechanic should be able to explain why the repair is needed and how it will be done in a way you can understand. If the explanation doesn’t match up with the problem you’re experiencing, then you can go over the symptoms again to make sure the issue will be addressed.
Will I Get a Written Estimate?
This shows you how much everything will cost including parts and labor, and it can keep the shop from overcharging you or adding additional work without contacting you first. In Wisconsin, shops are legally obligated to provide a detailed estimate and get consent before making repairs that cost more than $50.
How Long Will it Take?
There’s more to the time it takes to do a job than just the repair itself. Parts may be available locally, or it may take a few days to get them delivered. There may be a turn-around for outside work like machining, and the vehicle itself may need to sit periodically. If the shop is busy with lengthy repairs, it can take a while before they get to your vehicle. When you get your estimate, the mechanic should know how long the repair will take, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Will I Get a Detailed Receipt?
This should break down exactly what was done to your car and the cost of each part, just like the estimate. This shows what repairs were done, so if there’s a problem, you can show the connection to the work they did on your vehicle.
What is the Warranty?
Often there will be two separate warranties: one for labor covered by the shop, and one for parts handled by the manufacturer.
A “lifetime” warranty doesn’t mean the parts and labor are covered forever. Instead, there’s usually a service charge attached to the repair, so you’re really getting a discount on future work. Some shops will offer a lifetime warranty on labor, but the parts will have limited coverage from the manufacturer.
Do You Have a Loaner Vehicle?
Shops that handle lengthy repairs may have a vehicle you can borrow while your car is being fixed.
Who Do You Recommend?
If you have a mechanic you trust, and you need a repair he or she can’t handle, ask them who they’d choose to do the work. They deal with other shops and customers constantly, so they have some idea of the reputation of other shops.
Finding Quality Auto Body Repair is Easy
Merton Auto Body has served Waukesha County for over 70 years, delivering top quality auto body repair. Our on-staff appraiser can have a free estimate ready for you in minutes, our technicians are ASE certified, and we’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, so you know you’ll get a quality repair. Don’t just take our word for it: we’re a preferred shop for most major insurance companies. Whether you live in Oconomowoc, Delafield, Hartland or Pewaukee, we should be your first call when you need collision repair.