Auto Repair Question Box

Picture of a car engine455 Cubic Inch Buick Engine

Let's discuss asking the right auto repair question and how to handle the answers you receive. Whether your asking car questions online or interrogating your repair shop, speaking up and getting a clear answer is important.

The way you process this information will not only go a long way towards the ultimate goal of fixing your automobile, but the amount of money it costs you to achieve this goal. Online answers to auto repair questions are a good means of obtaining a second or third opinion.

Keep in mind, without the benefit of hands on diagnosis these answers may not solve all problems. Use the answers to guide you in performing additional research. Then use the researched answers to discuss the diagnostic information with the shop on their level of knowledge.

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There is no question that an educated consumer has a better chance of of receiving not only respect from the repair shop, but also getting their automobile fixed right the first time.

On this page I share an example of a question sent to me a few years ago, but is still relevant today. You'll also find some guidelines to follow when dealing with your favorite retail auto repair shop in an attempt to get a complex problem diagnosed. This includes intermittent car problems which can be the most frustrating for both mechanics and their customers.

Question and Answer Examples

I took the car to the ford shop for this intermittent sputtering and they said it needs a new mass airflow sensor, that's what the scanned diagnostic data stream said, so what do you think? Should I go with the repair and do you know any places to buy the airflow sensor for good price so I can do it my self?

My answer: I would let the dealer repair the car and have them guarantee that the car will be fixed. This will make sure they're not guessing with your money and have confidence in the mechanics diagnosis.

I would also road test with the dealer representative BEFORE and AFTER the car repair and make them aware that you expect this sputtering problem fixed or you will require a refund of parts and labor. Here is the reply to my free auto repair advice that was provided with best of intentions, but completely ignored by the gentleman.

Well they could not order the part so I had to order the Mass Air Flow sensor and install it and it did not do anything. Can the mass airflow sensor be affected by my BOMZ high performance cold air intake? This is getting ridiculous money wise for me. The spark plug wires are new, fuel filter, mass airflow sensor and what else? I bet your suggestion is a mechanic again? I think it is the fuel injectors.

No question here that if he followed a diagnostic tree chart in a good quality service and repair manual that he would have saved a lot of time and money.

If you noticed on our back and forth e-mails when a shop or mechanic tells you a specific part is needed for a complicated diagnosis, my recommendation is to let them do the job so you have some recourse if the problem is not fixed. The gentleman from the above e-mail got lost in replacing parts not needed.

This can happen easily when you are not trained for diagnosis. The gentleman was quite capable of performing his own car maintenance and replacing parts. But you have to be self aware and know when to bailout for some professional auto repair help. This next snippet is from my free guide on how to deal with your auto repair shop.

How To Control Your Auto Repairs

You and your vehicle are in an auto repair shop for an intermittent problem while driving. It's like your car has a mind of its own. Sometimes it bucks and stalls, other times it doesn't. The technician is perplexed.

He can't go right to the problem. You start by asking the right auto repair question like how much will it cost to fix? The mechanic says I can't give you an exact price. This one is going to be charged on a time and material basis.

The technician will now start on a quest to locate and isolate the problems. The time will be logged and you'll be charged the shop's labor rate per hour. including the cost of any needed materials, until the problem is found. Or until you tell them to stop!

Professional mechanic

The number one way to protect yourself in this situation is to only approve 1 hour of diagnosis at a time. This puts you in control of the time and money scenario.

After each hour of labor passes demand a full report of the diagnostic tests that were used and what results were found. Before approving the next hour of diagnosis find out what they plan to do in the next hour.

If they're getting close to finding an answer to the problem. Make sure the shop understands you refuse to write them a blank check and that you do not have unlimited funds to spend on diagnosis.

I have seen car owners use this approach so well that the shop gets tired of asking for more money. The shop then actually kicks in some diagnosis to get to the bottom of the problem. Another reason a shop will not charge straight time is because they know the technician has not seen this complaint before.

They are actually learning new diagnostic skills in the process of working on your vehicle. When the diagnosis time starts building up you want to make it clear to the shop that you are not going to pay for the technicians training and will require an experienced mechanic. Let the guy in training practice on another car.

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Auto mechanics can be mysterious. This next page will focus on what its like to be a mechanic and some of the tricks an evil one might use. Let me make it clear that not all mechanics are bad. Well see for yourself, this next link takes you from auto repair question to auto service stories.

Browse through submitted stories from site visitors about problem auto repairs. leave comments or even post your own car repair story.

On the homepage you can see pictures of me so you know who you are visiting with and also discover more answers to important car questions.