Questions Every Vehicle Owner Should Ask Their Mechanic

What to know when you take your car to the garage

"They can make up anything!" Seinfeld's George Costanza famously said of mechanics. "Nobody knows! By the way, you need a new Johnson rod in there."

Taking your vehicle to get worked on can be intimidating, especially if you're not familiar with the lingo associated with vehicle maintenance and repair. However, next to your home, your vehicle is most likely the second most expensive investment you'll make, so it's important to make sure you leave it in the right hands when something goes awry. There are a number of important questions all vehicle owners should ask before turning their keys over to an automotive technician. Here are five, as listed by Napa Auto Parts.

1. Are you ASE certified?

A common indication of quality service is a certificate of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE's mission is to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service through the testing and certification of repair and service professionals. If no ASE certificate has been awarded at the shop you're considering doing business with, it's probably a good idea to take your vehicle elsewhere.

2. What payment policies and guarantees do you offer?

Before approving any work to be done, it's important to ask about the facility's labor rates, warranties and payment policies. Also, before letting a technician inspect your vehicle, it's important to find out the cost involved. Not all auto care centers provide free estimates, and you don't want to be stuck paying a costly inspection fee you didn't approve beforehand.

3. What is your used parts policy?

Some garages have been known to pass off used parts as new to unsuspecting vehicle owners. To ensure you're getting what you paid for, Arlotta recommends asking the facility about its used parts policy before having any work done on your vehicle. Ask what the warranty is on the new part, so if the part fails within that time-frame, you know it must be repaired or replaced for free.

4. Do you have a list of references I can contact?

To really find out about the facility's service record, it doesn't hurt to request a list of references who have frequented the shop before. They'll be able to provide an overview of their experience with the technicians and how satisfied they were with the work that was completed. There are places to look, such as, as well as the Better Business Bureau to see if the establishment has any or many outstanding complaints. It is a good sign to begin with if the place is an accredited member of the BBB.

5. Can I receive a written explanation of what work was completed on my vehicle?

Requesting a detailed breakdown of what repairs were done on your vehicle not only helps you maintain pristine records but also keeps the auto care center accountable for the work they completed. According to Arlotta, these records are extremely important, especially when warranties are involved, or if you want to sell your car.

For more information about NAPA and vehicle care, visit

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