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How To Say NO, and Still Get Great Service From Your Mechanic

Published on June 11, 2012 under Humble Mechanic

We talk all the time about making good choices when it comes to car repairs. Everything from required vehicle maintenance to repairing broken or worn out parts. You might be asking yourself why we are talking about NOT fixing your car. Well, lets face it, sometimes repairs are just not doable.

Today I am not talking about getting scammed, or the mechanic in a can type stuff. I am talking about real repairs to your car. Whether it is money, time, or priority sometimes we just can’t make the repairs to our cars. Here are some ways to decline a repair, but still get the most from your shop, and mechanic.

Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy! If you find that your car needs a repair you didn’t expect, just be honest about it. If the repair is not in the budget just say so. If time is an issue, just let the advisor know you don’t have the time right now.

I appreciate when a customer is honest. I understand that repairs are not planned. Not many people can just drop $500 plus on a car repair.

You want to do some research
With the internet being the endless source of information, it can be easy to find answers to questions. Telling your advisor that you want to do more research is totally understandable. This can give you time to find out more information about the recommended repair.

If it is a safety issue, there is an option too. Don’t be afraid to leave your car at the shop. That will still give you time to research, but not risk doing more damage.

Ask for a printout
Well to be fair, you should not have to ask. 😉 That is something that good repair shops would do for you anyway. Getting a print out will do a few things.

  1. Keeps a record for YOU! Then you don’t have to try and remember what was wrong.
  2. Keeps a record for the shop. Lets say you don’t do a repair. The information will be on file for the next visit.

Prioritize
If your car needs more than one repair, have the service advisor prioritize the list. Just like a printout, a good advisor will do this with out asking. The order I like to use is

  1. Safety. Items that are safety related are always the most important. If it can cause harm to you, or others on the road, it is priority number 1
  2. It can leave you stranded. If not making a repair can leave the car not drivable, it is a very close second. Cars usually don’t break down in your driveway at home.
  3. Further damage will occur. If not making a repair will cause other items to fail, it gets pushed up on the list. If your timing belt breaks, it will cause engine damage. That is much more expensive than just replacing the timing belt.
  4. State Inspection. In my state we have annual inspections for the state. Most of the items we check are safety related. The ones that are not, need to be fixed before a car can pass.
  5. Past due maintenance. This one is pretty self explanatory.
  6. Regular maintenance. Sadly this one will fall to the bottom of the list almost every time. 🙁

The funny thing about prioritizing is, they can fall under more than one number. Leaving you stranded can totally be a safety issue. That is where a good service advisor/mechanic team is vital!

If you feel like your being bullied, be strong. I was at the dentist(YUCK) today, and went through the up selling. I just asked them to keep noting it in my file. That stopped the pressure to buy more stuff.

Any other tips on declining recommended work? I think the key is being nice about it. It is the old saying, you get more flies with honey!

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3 Comments

  1. Jeremy

    When I first got my car I brought it for an oil change at a Canadian Tire (Canadian Tire is a hardware store that also services vehicles). While there I asked that since the car is on the lift I would like them to drill into my catalytic converter to see how bad it was. I was planning on replacing it soon anyway. The service guy said no problem. An hour and a half later (I really have no idea why it took so long) I get called up to the desk. The adviser told me my cat is finished and gave me a $960 estimate. They wanted to replace both O2 sensors, the cat and flex pipe. I said no. He told me I can’t leave because it is a safety issue. I proceeded to tell him that if my car is not off the lift by the time my debit transaction goes though I will have the police in here. After saying that I had my car back haha. I knew that they over charge and I could get it fixed for around $500 which I ended up doing.

    I also have another Canadian Tire story. My girlfriend went for an oil change in February and while there asked to have her rear passenger tire looked at because it needs air every 2 weeks. When she was finally called up to the desk they told her that her engine coolant isn’t at the right pH, her washer fluid reservoir is cracked on top, her brakes are finished and suspension needs to be replaced all around. I should mention she drives a 1997 Toyota Tercel. She also paid $500 for the car. She called me up and told me what the adviser told her. I told her to pay for her oil and new tire valve and to leave. She thinks they tried to take advantage of her because she is a girl. I agree with her but I would like to think that it was not the case. Canadian Tire service advisers are given bonuses for up selling. Three months later I’m in her car and at around 70km/h the car shakes. I asked her how long it has been doing that and she said ever since Canadian Tire fixed the tire. I don’t know why she didn’t tell me her car shook haha. Anyway, after hearing that I brought her car into school and found out that the rim was bent. I have no idea how the mechanic there missed that. Unless they caused it when mounting the tire.

    Anyway, when those are my two stories

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