Knowing What to Ask or Say to a Mechanic

To Ask?-2Have you ever asked how long the repair will take and found that the car wasn’t ready for an additional three hours? Or, you weren’t sure what was wrong with the car and after three days of troubleshooting you shared a trivial piece of information that happened to be exactly what the mechanic needed to repair the car within an hour.

Knowing what question to ask or comment to make is significant to the cost and timing of a car’s repair. Here are some tips that will shorten your car’s diagnostic time.

When a person asks, “When will my car be ready?” it forces the mechanic to wonder what the real question might be:

• Can I have my car back in time for my mid-afternoon appointment?
• Will I need a rental car to keep my schedule intact?
• Will you call immediately after the car is finished rather than at end of day?
• Is my car drivable until a better-timed repair date?
• Will all my car problems be fixed or just the one that brought me in?
• Is this project going to take too long and become too expensive?

We’ve received many more questions that were hidden inside of “When will my car be ready?” While mechanics are straightforward people, most car owners aren’t sure how to get to the point, or more accurately, what the real question is that needs to be voiced.

The best thing is not to ask a question, but instead tell the mechanic when you need your car back and what you think needs to be looked at. The best way to describe a problem is to be specific about what the car is doing or not doing, sounds like, smells like if applicable, and any other experience that is different than your normal driving conditions.

Do NOT test the mechanic by leaving the full hunt for a problem to him. That puts the mechanic into a difficult position. When diagnosing the problem(s) the mechanic has to guess if you want the car returned to a near new condition, functional state, or just fix the one thing that you feel needs to be fixed.

By sharing whatever information you can, the mechanic can focus on the thing that bothers you plus anything that is immediately dangerous, leaving the less critical issues for another time.

One man dropped off his car with the instructions that we were to fix it. The diagnostics didn’t reveal any critical issue or pending problem. We test drove the car and couldn’t determine what might be wrong, as nothing significant showed up. In addition, the problem may have been intermittent and never reared its ugly head during the inspection. Finally the man shared that the car was leaning to the right every morning when he drove down his street.

We double-checked the wheel alignment that was spot on and then asked a series of questions. We learned that his car only leaned to the right first thing in the morning. It turned out he lived on a street that slopes to the right. After 2.5 hours of diagnosis, test drives and exploration, we could’ve solved his problem with a five-minute conversation.

The more mechanics are told the easier, faster and more accurate the diagnosis.

© 2017 Hi-Tech Automotive Specialists, Inc.
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About CJ Powers

CJ is an author and speaker.
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