“What would you do if this was your car?” That's a question we get asked a lot and to be honest, it's not really a fair question.
Don't ask your mechanic what he or she would do in terms of repairing your car. There are so many variables that make you—you have different needs for your vehicle, it's probably more inconvenient for you to make a trip to visit your mechanic, etc.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when it comes to auto maintenance:
Is this a safety issue?
If your vehicle needs to be repaired because of a safety issue, there's no question about it—you need to fix it. It's amazing how much work people put off thinking that as they can drive the car then it's fine. The reality is that you are compromising yourself... if that doesn't bother you because you feel you're a safe driver, then remember that you're putting others on the road at risk too.
What is my purpose for the car?
Do you only make short trips? Do you mostly park at the bus station and take transit in? Do you rely on your vehicle for work every day and commute a fair distance? How easy is it for you to make alternate arrangements if you didn't have your car? Do you want your car to last another year? Five years? Two months?
Do you rely on your car for your business? Can you afford to be without a vehicle for a day or two if it ever needed repairs? I ask this because we have some clients who are contractors and they depend heavily on their car. Every minute that car is 'down' means lost opportunity for income.
What is my budget?
Often times we have clients that ask if the car is worth putting in money to repair. We then have to ask what their budget is like. Could you afford another car at this time? Maybe you can only afford that $500 repair right now and would rather not go into debt to get another car. Are there any other foreseeable repairs needed in the near future? Generally-speaking, if a car owner has a habit of not maintaining their current car, it doesn't matter if they get another (newer) car... the habit will still be there. And remember that even a newer (or brand new) car will have maintenance costs.
These questions should help determine what type of parts are used—cheap ones, good quality ones, parts with longer warranties, etc. It also will determine what our options are (for example, repair versus replacement of parts) when applicable. All of these questions are what a good technician will want to discuss with you to understand your unique situation and expectations for the car. What I might do if I were you could be something that is absolutely not an option for you.