How to pick the right mechanic – ask these questions first!

20 January 2020

 

When your wheels need a bit of TLC, you need the right mechanic. Even though the motor mechanics sector is admittedly “facing a skills shortage”[1] you can find the best value for money if you do your research beforehand. Here are a few questions you can ask to increase your chances of finding a great ‘car doc’ to keep your car in top shape.

 

“Can you explain what needs to be done on my car in simple terms?”

 

To the average individual, mechanics is full of unfamiliar terms and unexplained procedures. If you understand the job required, you can make an informed decision. A good mechanic wants you to feel confident in them and will make time to ensure you know enough about what’s going on to choose them. It will also help you compare quotes from different mechanics.

 

“Are you accredited by/a member of MIWA and/or RMI?”

 

These accreditations mean you’ll get high standards of work. The organisations require workshops to meet specific criteria and check up on their members regularly (and sometimes without warning).

 

“What’s the process here?”

 

A workshop with a simple but efficient system can focus its energy where it counts – on fixing or maintaining your car. A workshop without one will be constantly bogged down by admin and may ultimately disappoint you. Find out what steps are involved from first contact through estimate/quote to payment and grievance process (i.e. if you aren’t happy with the work done) so that you’re certain they’re not going to waste time and money on mismanaging the job.

 

“Do you offer a customer guarantee?”

 

A confident mechanic has faith in their work and respects the customer’s rights to question it, even if it leads to a refund. A guarantee is an expression of this confidence.

 

“Do you offer extended warranties on parts?”

 

A self-respecting mechanic will confidently use reliable parts from reputable manufacturers. These generally come with warranties and the workshop can extend this if they include it in the job. If they don’t, reliable parts usually have a warranty anyway, and you can follow up on independently if you have the proof of payment from the supplier.

 

“Can we just start with a small, simple job?”

 

An honest business understands that you may want to test the waters before establishing a long-term relationship. They should welcome a little maintenance job like a minor service as a chance to prove themselves to you.

 

“Is this amount an estimate or a quote?”

 

Quotes are time-dependent, legally binding and based on known factors. Estimates are ballpark amounts based on unknowable factors and subject to updates as the job is underway. This guide from Wheels24 explains in more detail.

 

“Do you train your staff?”


A competitive workshop makes sure its staff knows the mechanics trade and empowers them to learn it officially. They may do internal or external courses, refresher courses or even branch into whole new areas of mechanics. New technology, including cars with advanced digital attributes, makes regular training necessary. It’s also important to understand what the workshop specialises in and consult them accordingly. You wouldn’t go to a GP for a tooth filling, would you? Likewise, the health of your car depends on the expertise of the workshop and its staff.

 

“How do your other customers and competitors rate you?”


It’s important to read Google and Facebook reviews and ask family and friends if they recommend the business, but it also helps to find out if a motor repair company knows (and nurtures) their reputation and how they feel about that. It can, indirectly, reveal a lot about their attitude towards their work. Pride in work is important; whereas arrogance is dangerous.

 

“Is this the best rate for the best job you can do?”


A mechanic charges you for parts, labour hours and expertise and you’ll naturally get a few different quotes. A low quote may be for a rush job that leaves much to be desired in terms of standard of work.  Cheap jobs may end up costing more in the long run if it requires revisiting or repairs. Sometimes it pays to fork out a bit more and the workshop will usually explain this to you. They may also negotiate a better rate with you for more complex, expensive jobs or if you’re offering them a lot of business (with multiple vehicles).

 

 

Got a motor mechanic tip or a tale to share? Tell the dotsure.co.za community on Facebook. Did you know… dotsure.co.za offers mechanical warranty cover? We’ve got your back when it comes to keeping your car on the road 😉.

 

[1] https://www.wheels24.co.za/News/Guides_and_Lists/5-top-tips-for-choosing-a-mechanic-that-wont-let-you-down-20190201

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