Brad Wohlgemuth knows that talking to car mechanics can be stressful. How much is it going to cost? Is your technician telling the truth? What repairs are really urgent, and which ones can wait?
That stress, plus a lack of education around how our vehicles work, can make communication between customers and repair shops fall apart.
“Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the business, the advisor, and technicians advisor to understand a customer’s greatest concern. But if your shop isn’t great at asking questions, you can help your situation by clearly stating what you’re looking for,” the owner of Stettler’s AutoTrust Service Corp says.
What’s your priority?
- Safety: Mechanics should always ensure your vehicle is safe to drive, but managing your safety margin depends on the vehicle’s intended use and your expectations. “A parent sending their child to university might say ‘I want this car to be super reliable, I want my baby to be safe,’ and their expectations are going to be different from someone who’s got a second vehicle they only use for in-town grocery runs,” Brad says. Tell your mechanic what your expectations are around safety.
- Longevity: How long are you expecting your car to last? Communicate with your mechanic to explain your timeline, and they can work with you to get great results. “Sometimes people aren’t even aware of what’s possible. They decide that constant repairs are frustrating so they buy a new car when, if it’s properly maintained, their current vehicle could be a reliable form of transportation and keep a lot more depreciation money in your pocket.” The repairs and maintenance your mechanic suggests will depend on whether you’re keeping your car for one year or 10.
- Money: If your technician knows your budget, they can try to work within it. Do you want your vehicle maintained in tip-top shape? A good mechanic can give you a list of recommendations. Are you short on cash this month? If you communicate effectively your mechanic can prioritize maintenance to keep you safe and on the road.
“When I started in this industry I didn’t recognize it right away, but I realized I had my own way of looking at vehicles. A lot of the time when you have a favourite mechanic it’s because your core values line up with the shop’s, so you don’t have to worry so much about strong communication,” Brad says. “But if your priorities change, your favourite technician may no longer give you the service you want, unless you communicate.”