Helpful Car Repair Tips

Choosing a Reliable Mechanic

Posted by Brian Brown on October 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Choosing a Reliable Mechanic

The person entrusted with the upkeep of our second-most important material possession should be fully-reliable. However, a recent Harris Interactive Poll revealed only 12% of participants fully trusted their mechanics. With not all automotive mechanics being equal, the general trust for this profession has been marred by bad apples who are concerned more with making money than responsibly maintaining your vehicle.

Finding a reliable mechanic provides the sobering knowledge that you are engaged in a wholehearted business relationship. One where you both stand to benefit, rather than just the mechanic. Along with finding a competent and honest mechanic, this procedure should also remind you communications is key with your auto mechanic. As the vehicle owner, don't be afraid to ask any questions you have before surrendering your keys.


Step 1: Find a Mechanic Before You Need One

The best way to avoid the less trustworthy automotive mechanics is to search in anticipation of future vehicle maintenance. Too often, the selection process for a mechanic is hastened when the vehicle requires servicing which leads to a possibly expensive gamble.


Step 2: Get References

Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective advertising methods a car repair shop can employ. Sometimes, talking to a friend or family member can steer you towards a respectable automotive technician. Conversely, word-of-mouth can bring attention to the more notorious service centers in the area, allowing the cautions consumer to avoid such shops.


Step 3: Visit the Shop

Taking an assessment of a business' exterior and interior will provide a reasonable reflection of the business' work ethic. While not expecting the cleanliness of a five-star restaurant, the service areas should be well-lit, organized, and free of large oil puddles, trash, and debris.

It's important also to determine the limitations in services that the auto shop can provide. Some car repair shops are capable of only basic automotive maintenance such as oil changes and tire changes while other faculties are equipped for complex repairs, such as engine replacements and body damage repair. If you own a newer car, a basic service auto shop may be sufficient, since your car may be covered by its warranty.


Step 4: Search for Credentials

Similar to doctors or other highly-skilled professionals, auto mechanics frequently display their qualifications for easy viewing. Among one of the leading markers of a quality mechanic is ASE (American Service Excellence) certification. ASE is a organization that assures mechanics uphold the highest standards for competency. The majority of auto service centers proudly advertises ASE certified mechanics, especially franchises who hire only those qualified mechanics. As well as ASE signs, look for endorsement from local and national auto clubs. Inside the shop, recent awards are another indication for a quality auto mechanic.

While not necessarily regarded as a credential, franchised auto centers can be favorably viewed based on their brand recognition. Along with certifications, mechanics in a franchise's auto center are held accountable for their performance.

Whether an independent or franchised auto service shop, contacting the local branch of the Better Business Bureau will reveal any prior complaints against the establishment.


Step 5: Inquire About Prices

When seeking a general car maintenance mechanic, ask for prices on the services required on your vehicle including the any additional or hidden costs. Vehicle owner should request is the shop's hourly cost for labor. Independent shops generally offer lower labor costs than franchised locations but pricing may relate to the mechanic's skill level. Be warned, mechanics may not be able to provide exact estimates on more advanced repairs. It's becoming a common practice in the auto repair industry to charge for most written estimate. Nonetheless, some shops may offer free checks of certain vehicle equipment such as brakes and the exhaust system.Some shops may also charge a set price based on the repair that needs done.


Step 6: Ask About Shop Warranties

A shop's warranty is not only a welcoming guarantee but can also indirectly give light to the mechanic's dependability. While vehicle replacement parts carry their own warranties, the guarantee on labor is separate. A warranty for labor should be a minimum of 30 days, though 3 months is prevalent with leading shops and mechanics. If you have your work done at a franchised dealership, the warranty holds much more value because you can usually visit any franchised shop to have the warranty serviced.

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