Few things in life are as tough as finding a good mechanic. Listed below are our top five tips to help you find a long-term mechanic you can trust.
1. Recommendations and Reviews
If you’re not sure how to find a good mechanic, start by asking relatives, friends, and neighbors to recommend an auto repair technician. You can also weed out low-quality shops by checking trusted websites for recent reviews.
Sources to check include:
- AAA’s Approved Auto Repair network: Shops with the Approved Auto Repair designation sign agreements to provide reliable, high-quality service performed by technicians with the manufacturer or Automotive Service Excellence certifications.
- Angi (formerly Angie’s List): The company prides itself on verifying all user reviews.
- Better Business Bureau: You can search the BBB website by geographic area for shops with (or without) BBB accreditation and ratings.
2. Verify Certifications and Memberships
Most cars on the road are basically computers on wheels, which is why you don’t want to trust backyard mechanics or hobbyists with your vehicle. Even when you engage a professional auto technician, check the person’s certifications and memberships.
A key certification is from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. It’s awarded to individual mechanics rather than auto shops. To qualify, mechanics must pass a test and have two years of on-the-job training, with retesting every five years.
3. Don’t Shop by Price Alone
A bargain is not always a bargain, and more expensive does not mean better. With a reputable auto mechanic, you’re not just paying for labor and parts. Professionalism, technical expertise, and communicating issues with your car are also essential in a professional auto technician.
Showing customers the problem with their vehicle is the key to a good working relationship: it builds trust and demonstrates that the mechanic knows what they’re doing and that they want you to know what they’ve found, why it needs to be repaired, and if it’s worth it. If the shop doesn’t volunteer to show you the repair, especially when they’ve diagnosed something expensive, demand to see it. It’s your money, and it’s your car.
4. Weigh Indie Repair vs. Dealerships
If your car is still under warranty for parts and labor, you’re probably better off going directly to your car’s dealership. Although dealerships are traditionally more expensive, you may have better peace of mind knowing a professionally trained technician is repairing your vehicle.
Although they’re busy, professional and trustworthy mechanics take time to inspect your car’s three big safety items every visit. Tires, brakes, and windshield wipers are the three things on your car that have to be relatively new to ensure safety. Any decent shop will always look at your brakes, as well as your tire wear and your wipers. If they don’t inspect as part of their normal checkup, you may want to consider another shop.
5. Ask Questions
You want the mechanic to detail what is wrong with the vehicle. Even if you don’t understand mechanic-jargon, asking questions indicates that you aren’t going to take everything at face value. If you don’t understand what’s actually wrong with your car, ask the mechanic to explain further. If he/she refuses to answer your questions in a layperson’s terms, choose another mechanic.
For many people, a vehicle is a significant investment. For this reason, it’s important to spend time finding a technician you feel confident about. Before your car has a serious issue, try testing a repair shop with a minor service like an oil change or tire rotation. If they suggest additional work, say you’d like to get a second opinion. The service person’s reaction will tell you a lot about whether it’s a valid recommendation. To ensure you receive quality work at a fair price and keep your vehicle running smoothly, take time to select an auto repair shop and mechanic you’re comfortable with.