Ten Questions to Ask a Repair Shop

We are a team of ASE certified mechanics that have created this guide to assist you when taking your car into a shop or dealer for repairs. Try to gain as much free information as possible, for example if you know the window motor is not working find out how much a new one costs on websites such as Amazon.com, RockAuto.com or CarParts.com. Also, there will be an hourly labor charge which you can obtain by asking our experts, additionally, they will answer any questions you may have (free). Here is what you should do and questions to ask before taking your car in for repairs:

Remove all valuable items

Although most of the time there will not be a problem it is good practice to remove cell phones, laptops, wallets, purses etc. This way there is no discrepancy as to what was left inside the car or not.

Record your odometer reading

Since your car will be out of sight, it is a good idea to record your odometer reading to monitor the amount of time the car has been driven. There should only be between two and three additional miles which accounts for test drives in most cases.

The car should have sufficient gas or charge

Do not leave the vehicle empty or down on charge, a mechanic may need to test drive the car and it frustrates the shop when they have to deal with a dead or empty vehicle.

Check the shop rating on Google or Yelp

Most repair shops will have a Yelp or Google rating that can help you make an informed decision. It is good community behavior to leave a review once the repair is completed.

Accurately give details to the service writer

A repair shop can only know what you tell them, so give as many details as possible when describing the problem. Also, include any recent repairs that have been done as they might be related to the current situation.

What is the quality of the replacement parts being used?

The manufacturer or quality of the part makes a big difference in price, and how long the part will last. Because billions of car replacement parts are made the quality of the part can vary greatly. In general OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is your best bet or a dealer substitute such as AC Delco, Bosch Motorcraft, Denso, etc, in general the more expensive the better the part is. To help ensure part quality, ask the shop to return the old parts in the replacement box from the new parts, empty containers of engine oil helps, such as Mobil1.

Show me why the part is bad?

Better shops will take an image of the bad part and text it to you to help you understand the repair. Also, when picking up the car, have them show you why the parts are bad, if it's not obvious.

Are you trained or certified to work on my car?

These are not your grandfather's automobiles, they require an advanced understanding to be able to troubleshoot and repair the vehicle correctly especially Hybrids and EV's such as Tesla.

How long will the job take and will my car be locked inside the shop at night?

Knowing the duration of the repair and where the car will be stored overnight is beneficial so you can make arrangements for rides to work and to pick up your car. Even if the labor time is only 2.5 hours it will take longer for the shop because they are working on additional vehicles besides yours.

How much will it cost?

The goal when getting repair work done is no surprises! Is there an additional diagnostic charge? What is the warranty on the job and parts? A clear estimate of repairs costs including parts, labor and supplies must be approved by you (the car owner) before work can begin, and the final bill cannot be more than 10% higher than the original estimate, it's the law. Once you have received the repair estimate, check around at a few shops including the dealer to make an informed decision, if you are facing a large repair bill, get a second opinion.


Our certified technicians are ready to answer car repair questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly.

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