It’s very common in this industry for new issues to become apparent only after something is dismantled—things that couldn’t have been apparent before the job began. For that reason, upgrading an estimate in the middle of a job is not necessarily a bad thing. However, you certainly have the right to ask questions so you understand why the estimate is changing.

The answers should make sense to you so you feel comfortable. You want to ask the following questions:

  • How important is this additional item?
  • Is it a safety, reliability or maintenance issue?
  • What’s the possible impact if I don’t do it now?
  • Will I save money by having you do this now, “while you’re in there,” rather than waiting and paying you to dismantle everything to go back and fix it later?

You need the answers to these questions so you can make an informed decision about when and whether to have the additional work done. For example, if the technician found a small leak in your radiator, the coolant level can become too low and it can cost you several thousand dollars due to overheating if not repaired.

Your decision on something like that will be obvious. Other maintenance items won’t have a major short-term impact and a good shop will tell you so, allowing you to float the work off for several months. That way, you can schedule it according to your budget.

Any time you’re presented with a list of recommendations, ask them to rank them in order of importance. Safety is always first, reliability is always second and standard maintenance items are always third.

The Service Advisor you’re working with should be able to easily categorize the work your vehicle needs in that way. He or she should be able to work with you and help you make a plan if you choose to defer some of the work. A good shop will always work with you in a way that benefits you, not them.

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