Booking your car in for a service is a pretty straight forward procedure, but asking these questions will help ensure you get the best possible service from your mechanic.
Car servicing is an important part of owning a car and is the only way to maintain your car in its best shape possible. While it is a pretty straightforward procedure, it is still advisable to ask a few questions when you take your car for a service.
This should be your biggest concern. You are giving away your car to people who are going to open it up and fiddle with all the important bits on it. Think of a mechanic like a surgeon. Would you allow someone who isn't a certified doctor to operate on you? You wouldn't. In the same way, it is important to make sure that the people who will be servicing the car have the necessary qualifications so that they can restore the car to a better state than what it was before the service stop. Many fear that they might appear condescending if they ask for someone's credentials but it is a professional environment and you have every right to ask about the qualifications of the person who will be dealing with your precious ride.
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Services come with plenty of grey areas which means that there is a lot of potential for the final cost to skyrocket. It’s always best to have a written estimate so you can avoid any confusion that might arise out of a verbal estimate. It will also give you a more concise way of looking at all the potential reasons you are incurring a cost and what you can do to reduce the service cost. You can also ask better follow-up questions, such as what parts they will be using as replacements and the individual warranties on them. A written estimate just presents you with a clearer and more concise picture as to what is happening during the service.
As an expansion of the previous point, it is quite easy to be ripped off by being asked to pay for repairs and replacements that are not necessary. It is vital to know exactly what repairs and replacements are needed and why. The 'why' part is very important as every replacement and repair can have a huge bearing on the overall servicing cost. It is also wasteful to replace something that is actually working fine. If the mechanics say something needs to be repaired or replaced then get them to tell you exactly why it needs to be replaced. Agree to it only if their explanation and reasoning seem legitimate and your car is in actual need of such a replacement. If you are unsure then have the car checked out by a different mechanic and see if they suggest the same replacement or not.
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Say you are convinced that the said replacements are necessary. What follows is even more important. Understand that a car servicing shop makes a big chunk of its profits from selling aftermarket parts. As such they will try to sell you replacement parts that aren't OEM parts or that aren't from a reputed brand. Take a stern stand in this regards as the parts that are used as the replacement can make or break the car. We are not saying that OEM parts are the only safe choice here. In fact, many aftermarket brands can give a better performance and are more durable compared to OEM parts but these brands are usually expensive and backed by warranties that back up their quality. Do not let the service center sell you replacement parts from brands you have never heard off. Only opt for OEM parts or parts from reputed brands.
(Read more: How SA’s new automotive Code of Conduct impacts you)
Your car is probably an important part of your life and you do not want to leave it indefinitely in the shop. Get a clear time estimate and work this estimate into your schedule so that you do not have to cut corners in the other aspects of your life. This will also allow you to avoid unforeseen delays as the mechanics will have to work to a given schedule rather than take their own sweet time. It is also important to give the mechanics a way to reach you so that they can inform you about any delays.
There you have it. Ask these rather simple questions and get the most out of your next service stop.
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