The purpose behind an estimate is to inform the vehicle owner as well as the mechanic, the kind of work needed to repair the vehicle and provide an idea of how much it will cost. In order to find out what is wrong, there needs to be an inspection and testing of the vehicle to isolate and identify the problem and then determine what it will cost to perform the repair.
Auto repair technicians can’t estimate a job, and tell you how much it will cost to fix a problem without actually looking at the vehicle. Without the technician actually inspecting and possibly testing the vehicle all you would be getting is a guess…not an estimate. Just as we give our doctors an opportunity to examine and test us before they give us a diagnosis, we have to give our auto repair technicians the same opportunity.
An estimate for repair is only one of the factors in the repair process and it actually occurs in the middle of the process and has at least six prior steps that must be taken in order to reach a successful outcome.
First, we must gather data about the vehicle and the problem. We generally have to drive the vehicle to verify the symptom and to get a physical sense of what’s really going on. We have to inspect the vehicle and perform whatever tests might be necessary to provide the information we need. Information that allows us to compare actual performance with desired performance. Then, we need to analyze that data and evaluate it, which we hope will lead us to an accurate diagnosis. It is on this diagnosis that the estimate is built.
A written estimate protects both the mechanic and the customer from potential problems. When you sign off on an estimate, you are agreeing to pay reasonably within the figure you’ve been quoted. If a mechanic perform the repairs included in the estimate and charges you around the same amount as the estimate, you can’t insist that you didn’t know how much the repairs would cost. Likewise, mechanics are held to the amounts listed in the estimate. This is how estimates work.