Do you remember those days when there was an auto mechanic garage just off the alley in the neighborhood? It is no surprise if you don’t because those days are from long ago, and automotive centers have replaced those neighborhood landmarks. There’s a lot less grease on the floor and equipment used is up to date. If you are checking out an automotive center close by you can ask a few questions to help determine the level of service.
Before you start talking to the manager take a look at the walls. Check for any evidence of professional certification. An automotive center is not going to hesitate to publicize the professional expertise of its mechanics. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has numerous certification programs for automobile mechanics and technicians. Certificates from this particular organization demonstrates a fairly good skill level.
Asking about the equipment and diagnostic capability does not mean much unless you have done a little research beforehand. The reason is that you might be overwhelmed by the technical jargon. If you take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with common diagnostic procedures in an automotive center, you can go ahead ask questions about how work is done. This is something that the staff is more than willing to talk about.
Part of the conversation needs to include what types of cars are ordinarily repaired at the automotive center. There are automotive centers that specialize in foreign models, particularly the German variety. This doesn’t mean that other automotive centers lack the expertise to work on your BMW. If you happen to have a foreign model you should then asked specifically about the experience with that type of car. You can ask about the type of automotive parts that are ordinarily used. An automotive center that uses original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts may charge more than one which makes use of aftermarket parts. However, the OEM parts are made by the same manufacturer who constructed the car. Additionally, OEM parts may be required by any warranty that you might have. An automotive center that uses only aftermarket parts may not be able to honor the warranty you have.
Services are obviously something you want to talk about and labor rates are important. If your vehicle is getting the attention of a highly trained mechanic then this person is worth the cost per hour. Having an idea of what the parts are going to cost is going to help. Something to make note of is repair time. Car manufacturers give an estimate of the repair time that followed. It is possible that a small job is considered one that would take a number of hours. Asking how repair time is calculated is not a bad idea.
You should consult owner’s manual before you go in. Take note of what is said about oil changes. You may be surprised to know that most modern cars do not require oil changes every 3000 miles; it is possible to have the oil change done at 5000 miles or 7500 miles. You can consider the oil change question a test of the overall integrity of the automotive center. If the manager admits that oil change can be done at 5000 miles, it shows respect for the customer’s budgets. You can ask with the average cost would be for other jobs. Do remember that cost is governed by the amount of time and effort required. You as the car owner can influence that costs by driving sensibly.
Visiting the automotive center for the first time is an opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. Do not hesitate to be inquisitive because it is ultimately your money which is going to be spent. You may want to make up a list of questions before hand to ask. That helps you get all the information you need. You should ask how much notice should be given before setting up an appointment. An automotive repair center can ordinarily make arrangements with a 48 hour notice. If the manager insists on at least a week, that can be a little bit of a problem. There are times of the car has to be brought in much sooner than that. Asking questions is something that every consumer is allowed to do. Do not be shy about it. If the automotive center is able to answer all of your questions is a good sign that runs a fairly professional shop.