Mechanics are often expensive, and the amount of time your car is out of commission directly contributes to how much hassle and expense you experience. Although there is no official maximum limit to how long a garage may take to fix a car, there is definitely a fine line between good business conduct and taking too long.
In this article, Part 1 suggests being very clear about work before it begins, Part 2 discusses why minor repairs shouldn’t take over 24 hours, Part 3 explains why some repairs take longer than others, Part 4 offers ideas about how to handle a mechanic you think takes too long, and Part 5 recommends investing in a good mechanic who will stick with you for a while.
Part 1 of 5: Reach a clear understanding of the estimated repair time beforehand
Talk about the estimated time it will take to do repairs beforehand. While this isn’t really an issue for minor checkups and fixes, it can be a concern for major repairs, when a car could be in shop for days or even weeks.
Mechanics will not try to overstretch a time estimate at the risk of losing the customer’s business entirely. Having set limits expressed beforehand is a pre-emptive way to protect yourself against needless delays. A written record of the time and cost in advance will make sure the mechanic holds true to his word.
Part 2 of 5: Minor fixes shouldn’t take more than a day
For a lot of the smaller repairs and fixes, they should not take more than a few hours. This shouldn’t be a problem if the shop tells you to sit-in or come back later in the day. Especially in the case of an appointment where you wait, an auto shop will prioritize your car.
Questions about repair times and delays my become more of an issue in the case of major repairs and damage. There is no legal limit on how long a garage needs to keep a car. The garage’s general level of activity and workload will be a major factor for the more exhaustive repairs.
Also, keep in mind that repairs will take naturally longer if your car is a special or vintage make, as the parts may need to be ordered.
Part 3 of 5: Understand that foreseen issues can arise that increase shop time
Things aren’t always as cut and dried as they first appear in the estimate. While mechanic and customer alike should have a reasonably accurate idea of the timeframe, things rarely follow through perfectly according to plan. In addition to unforeseen car troubles, the mechanic may become ill, have a family emergency, or otherwise be out of commission for a few days.
Asking the mechanic to keep you apprised on any new developments with the car repairs can help your peace of mind, especially if you’ve been placed at a severe inconvenience without your vehicle.
Part 4 of 5: What to do if you think a mechanic is taking too long
If you suspect things are being dragged out for longer than is reasonable, you may consider bringing up the question with another auto shop. If you know a friend with professional experience in a garage, that works as well.
Compile all of the information about the repairs you have and take it to another professional to get their opinion on it. Although the conditions of each garage will vary, there’s usually a clear difference between a reasonable timeframe and an instance where things have been taken grossly out of hand.
Part 5 of 5: Find a mechanic who will stick with you
If you find a mechanic you’ve had consistently good business experiences with as a customer, you won’t need to worry about mistreatment or undue delays any longer. Even with a mechanic you’re not used to yet, it’s sometimes worthwhile to give them the benefit of the doubt if the explanation and delays were within reasonable limits.
For good and bad experiences alike, leaving a comment on business review sites like Yelp may persuade (or dissuade) others from a given shop, based on the way you were treated. The effect of these user-based sites on real-world business should not be underestimated; if anything, it can be a satisfying way to get back at a mechanic you feel gave you unreasonably slow or unfair service.