How to Explain to Customers Why Expensive Car Repairs Are Sometimes Necessary

As a mechanic, one of the hardest tasks you often face is convincing a skeptical client that a pricey repair is actually necessary. We can’t blame them – most drivers are hesitant to pour money into a used car to fix an invisible problem that the naked eye can’t spot.

However, true professionals know when an expensive car repair is vital, and it’s important that they impress the severity of the need upon the driver to avoid future problems and dangerous cars on the road. To some extent, the process is less about convincing the client and more about explaining the true extent of the situation to them.

Here’s how to go about talking to customers when they’re reluctantly facing costly auto repairs.

1. Go Over ALL of the Options

You never want to tell a client that there’s only one option and that it’s your way or the highway. This is a surefire technique to drive customers away for a second opinion, wasting valuable time and putting a problematic car back on the road.

So, it’s your job to help the customer evaluate each and every one of their options.

First and foremost, you need to go over warranties and understand what might be covered – and what might not be. This should be done before any work is started.

If the necessary repair is required because of a persisting problem created by the manufacturer, the vehicle might be eligible for benefits under “lemon law”. This is why you need to be on your toes and look at the warranty details.

Now, keep in mind, lemon law varies based on the state you’re in. In most, it only applies to new vehicles. In others, used vehicles may still be eligible to receive benefits. For instance, lemon law lawyers can often obtain substantial compensation for defective used vehicles that are still covered under the dealership warranty. These warranties typically last about three months – maybe less.

Always remember, not every driver is aware of legal parameters – so it’s up to you to educate them and provide them with that potential option.

If the car isn’t under warranty and the repairs can’t be compensated by the manufacturer, then you’ll need to go over the various pricing options and timelines available to the client. Generally speaking, the more upfront you can be, the less the customer will doubt your advice.

2. Explain How the Repair Will Affect the Resale Value

A customer might not want to fork over money for a big repair – but they’ll care more if you explain how the car’s issue will affect it long-term. If the customer is hoping to use their car for years to come or resell when they want a new vehicle, they’ll need to consider the lasting effects.

Unfortunately, people often make instant decisions with their subconscious, meaning they’re not thinking long-term when it comes to expensive buys. You need to get past their initial shock at the estimated repair and explain the true value of the fix.

It’s estimated that roughly 40 million used vehicles are purchased annually. Chances are, the customer you’re speaking with will want to resell someday – and if that’s true, repairs aren’t just a luxury. They’re a necessary part of making a profit.

3. Break Down Each Cost Clearly

Nothing steers a customer away more than confusing jargon and unclear paperwork. If you’re going to have any luck talking to a customer about a pricey repair, you need to be as clear as possible.

Here are the main costs to immediately break down for the customer:

  • How much the parts/tools will cost to obtain.

  • What they will pay for the manpower and working hours.

  • Estimated fees for unexpected delays, extra work, etc.

  • Expected time period of work.

If you can, give the customer a bit more power over the entire cost. Give them different options when it comes to choosing various parts, if possible. Tell them that they can be involved in the process and that regular updates will be provided.

Of course, you should put these costs down in writing before any decisions are made. Not only will this help the customer truly understand the costs they’re facing, but it will also give you documentation to refer back to when it comes time for final payments.

The good news is that most expensive problems occur in used cars, and used car owners are more than twice as likely to expect to pay over $1K to keep their car in top condition. Hopefully, you’ll wind up talking to a reasonable customer who understands the cost of keeping an old car in top condition.

4. Give Them Time to Decide

According to Google’s research, roughly 59 percent of shoppers indicate that they research online before they buy to ensure they’re making the best possible choice. Don’t take that option away from them – rushing a customer into an expensive decision is never a good idea.

Instead, give your customers a realistic timeline to help them come to a decision. Obviously, if it’s a vital repair, you don’t want them to put off the choice for long, but providing them with a few days (or at least a few hours) to think might not be a bad idea.

Additionally, giving customers the time they need will help them trust you. It doesn’t matter if you’re advising that the driver put on new tires or replace their transmission – the customer can’t feel pressured to give in just because you say so. They need to truly believe that the repair is necessary and worthwhile, and it might take time for them to come to that conclusion.

In Conclusion

If you’re like most mechanics, the hardest part of the day is often talking to a car owner who doesn’t understand the true value of your work. Don’t lose hope at the first sign of skepticism – sometimes, a bit of explaining can convince a customer that the repair is necessary and worthwhile.

To earn the customer’s trust, go over all the options and pricing thoroughly. Break down all the costs, as well as the estimated timeline and overall impact on the car’s value. They’ll come around, especially if you’re honest and upfront throughout the entire process.