Like so many other things in life, preparation, attention to detail, and good communication go a long way toward getting the best service for your car. How an auto shop handles the car repair estimate and authorization process is a key part of delivering good auto service, and you can help to make this process work even better.Here in Columbia, MD, like in other places, getting the best car repair estimate begins before you even get to the auto shop. If you are having a problem with your car,
download a diagnostic form
and complete it before your service, or if you are having a factory scheduled maintenance service, check your manual before you drop your car off. Once that's done develop a list of items you want to address as part of the service or repair.
When you take your car in for servicing, be sure to review each item with the auto service adviser or the auto technician who will be
coordinating service on or working on your car. You will want to understand whether a service you want to have performed is included as part of a auto service or repair "package deal". For example, auto shops may advertise fixed price "Brake Specials", "Oil Change Specials" or "5K Service" packages -- be sure you understand exactly what's included. Also, you will also want to ask about any charges associated with diagnosing a problem you may be experiencing. Many shops may offer a free initial scan, but often more diagnosis is needed to get at the root cause of the problem. You can be charged for this diagnosis even if you don't decide to have the car services performed at that shop.
Once the auto shop has had a chance to diagnose the problem, they will give you a call back with your service estimate. Pull out your list to make sure that everything you've asked for is being addressed in the estimate. Additionally, be sure they provide you with the total price for the auto service including labor and parts. At times, your auto repair shop may call you back to indicate that they will need more time to diagnose a repair problem. If this happens, wait until you have a complete picture of the needed auto services before authorizing any work.
When the shop is reviewing the recommended service or repair plan with you, be sure to ask that they prioritize the work based on the following: