Auto Repair Shop FAQs

  • Introduction

    Automobiles have increasingly become a necessary convenience. They can also be extremely frustrating when not operating properly. Knowing the basics of car maintenance can help you make informed decisions as you move forward.

    One key point to understand is the difference between auto body and auto repair shops. Auto body shops focus only on the body, or the nonmoving parts of the vehicle. Auto body technicians repair dents in doors and fenders and replace broken windshields.

    Auto repair shops handle the components that contribute to powering the vehicle or making it stop. Auto mechanics maintain and repair components, such as electrical wiring, engines, transmissions, and brakes.
  • What maintenance does a car need annually?

    Some routine maintenance, such as an oil change, is recommended every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and other services, such as belts, hoses, and fuel filters, should be addressed quarterly. Annual upkeep includes brake and suspension checks. Specific maintenance depends on the miles driven and the vehicle's age. Consult the car's service manual for more detailed guidelines.

  • What does it mean when your car says maintenance is required?

    The vehicle's maintenance required light comes on at specific mileage intervals. If the car's been driven more than 4,500 miles, it might illuminate to remind you that an oil change is necessary to maintain optimal performance. The maintenance required alert differs from the check engine light, which appears for specific operating issues that need to be addressed.

  • How much should I budget for car maintenance?

    While AAA recommends setting aside $1,200 a year ($50 a month to cover auto maintenance and another $50 for repairs), much depends on the make and condition of the specific vehicle. A basic oil change and filter is approximately $50. However, the same service for a Mercedes-Benz costs as much as $200, according to The Detroit Bureau.

    Keeping up with routine maintenance will help prevent some major repairs, but components such as timing belts and brakes ultimately need to be replaced, putting a $400 to $900 dent in your wallet.
  • What kind of maintenance do electric cars need?

    Monthly maintenance should comprise checking the tire pressure and windshield wiper fluid. At 7,500 miles, the battery, power inverter, cabin heater, and charger modules' coolant levels need to be checked. A visual inspection of the vehicle's other moving parts, such as the power steering and suspension, should also be included.

  • Can you negotiate car repairs at a dealership?

    Dealerships use a sales or service writer management team to estimate parts and labor repair costs. Their mechanics focus on repairing the vehicle. While it's possible to negotiate a more palatable rate with dealerships, their preset pricing systems are more structured than independent shops. It pays to be prepared with cost comparisons.

  • Is car repair insurance worth the cost?

    Car repair insurance typically covers the repair of mechanical breakdowns, such as air conditioning, electrical and fuel systems, engines, and transmissions. The caveat is that a standard car repair insurance policy only covers a vehicle up to 72,000 miles, according to Forbes. Few vehicles experience major mechanical problems under 100,000 miles, and if they do, they're usually covered under warranty.

  • Do auto repair shops offer payment plans?

    Each repair shop has its own payment policies. Some shops may allow scheduled payments, while others offer credit through a partnership with a specific lending agency. Additional options include using a credit card or a personal line of credit. It could be possible to negotiate a discount, however, if you pay in cash.

  • What repairs will car insurance cover?

    Liability insurance policies only cover the other vehicle's repair costs, if you're at fault. Collision and comprehensive insurance typically cover your vehicle's repairs if damaged in an accident or a natural disaster, such as a fire or flood. Car insurance doesn't cover vehicle maintenance and repairs, such as tuneups and oil changes.

  • What damage is not covered by car insurance?

    Routine maintenance for wear and tear, such as replacing brakes, is typically not covered by car insurance. Likewise, mechanical failures like a blown engine would not be included in a standard auto policy. Most insurance policies don't cover damages from natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes.

  • What is included in a car maintenance service?

    Depending on your car's mileage and condition, car maintenance service may include a tuneup and replacing belts and hoses. Additionally, oil, brake, and power steering fluids are replaced or topped off, as needed. Flushing and replacing radiator coolant should also be part of the routine maintenance cycle.

  • How much is a car maintenance service?

    A study conducted by AAA concluded that a new car's annual maintenance and repairs average $0.09 per mile. Driving 10,000 miles per year, that equates to $900, while 15,000 miles comes to $1,350. Setting aside a specific monthly amount helps to balance the costs of oil changes and windshield wiper, battery, brake, and tire replacement.

  • Can a mechanic keep an unsafe car?

    A mechanic has the right to keep a vehicle if the customer owes for repairs. However, it's not legal to keep your car if the shop finds something wrong with it, and you choose not to have the repairs done. A mechanic may ask you to sign a release if you choose to drive an unsafe car off the premises.

  • Can you sue a mechanic for bad work?

    You can sue a mechanic if the vehicle wasn't fixed properly, or they charged you for work that wasn't completed. A mechanic is legally responsible for providing customers with a detailed estimate of the work to be done, including repair costs, and disclosing whether the parts are used or rebuilt.

  • Is an auto technician a mechanic?

    An auto technician is a mechanic with a more advanced skill set. Generally, a mechanic handles basic mechanical duties, such as replacing brakes and changing oil. While an auto technician is also equipped to complete those tasks, they're also trained to diagnose electrical issues and identify drivability problems.

  • What does an auto technician do?

    An auto technician inspects and repairs a variety of vehicles, including those that are powered by gas and alternative fuel and electric and hybrid energy. Technicians may use computerized diagnostic equipment to identify mechanical and electrical concerns. They test and lubricate the engine and repair and replace worn parts.

  • How much do mechanic technicians make?

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the median annual salary for automotive technicians was $44,050, or $21.18 per hour in 2020. That equates to the lower 10% earning $25,790 and the upper 10% in the $71,940 annual salary range.

  • How long does it take to become an auto technician?

    Automotive technicians typically complete a two-year associate's training program at a community college or technical school, with a focus on auto technology or repair. Individuals may also opt for a certificate program that can be completed in less than a year.

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