Is your shop ASA approved and ASE certified?
Automotive shops approved by the Automotive Service Association (ASA) adhere to a Code of Ethics and must have a consistent record of excellent service. If your mechanic can’t verify that his shop is ASA approved, move on. Likewise, an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is a good indication of quality service. If your mechanic isn’t certified, consider taking your vehicle elsewhere.
Does your shop specialize?
There are two reasons to ask this question: repair quality and service cost. Shops that advertise a specialty in certain makes or types of vehicle (foreign or hybrid, for example) can be better equipped and more knowledgeable about your car’s needs. They can also be substantially more expensive. While some shops advertise their specialties, many don’t. Ask your mechanic; a general repair shop may have a technician who specializes in your make or specific repair.
What should I expect to be charged for?
Start by asking about inspection and diagnostic fees. Many shops offer free estimates, but not for all repairs. Other shops charge for diagnostics. Next, ask about the shop's hourly rates, parts and labor warranties and payment policies. Finally, ask about their policy on used parts. Certain parts are commonly refurbished and resold at significant savings; other parts should always be factory new and warrantied. If you feel unsure about a suggested replacement, put a hold on the repair and get a second opinion.
Will you provide an itemized invoice?
Before work begins on your car, make it clear that you would like a detailed breakdown of the repairs and parts on your invoice. No reputable garage should object to this. Go over your itemized bill closely with your mechanic when the job is finished; if possible, have them point out the repairs to the vehicle. Ask to keep any parts that were removed—some have resale or trade-in value, and having them on hand will be useful if the problem recurs.
What is your policy for handling complaints?
If you’ve ever taken your vehicle to a mechanic, paid for a repair and then driven off only to find that the problem still exists, you’ll understand why it’s so important to ask this question in advance. Look for assurances that the shop will make every effort to address complaints.