Finding a Good Mechanic
Knowing a good, trusted mechanic is incredibly important. It can mean the difference between getting a good deal and getting “robbed.” Unscrupulous mechanics can certainly take you for a ride, but not the kind of ride you want to take. So here are a few tips for finding a good mechanic.
Where to Look First
The first, and usually best, a place to look for a good mechanic is family and friends. Ask around. It is best to start asking about a mechanic before you actually need one. See what kind of experiences your family and friends have had. If you are new to an area and want to meet your neighbors, this is a great topic to bring up during a conversation. People love to talk about what they know. Sometimes you may only learn about the negative experiences they have had, but that is still good. At least you will know who to cross off of your list.
Remember, though, that sometimes people have had an unusually good or bad experience. That is why it is best to ask as many people as you think is appropriate. If you keep hearing about how wonderful a certain mechanic or shop is, it probably is worth a look.
Be sure to ask about what kind of repairs were done. This is really important as some shops are better at certain repairs than others. For instance, I know a shop that is great with muffler work, but not so good with electrical work or body repairs. Each shop usually has their own specialties.
Another place to look for good mechanics is online. You can look at reviews that other people have written. But, again, be careful. People sometimes just like to complain. So be careful about passing over a shop just because of a few bad reviews. Some people try to get revenge by posting negative reviews. That is why it is always better to get the opinions of family, friends, and neighbors.
Another way to get information online is to look up the company on the Better Business Bureau’s website. You can usually get a pretty good idea of the reputation of the business from that site. Of course, there are other sites as well, but I am always careful about listening to people I don’t know.
Put Them to the Test
Once you think you have found a good mechanic, give them a try with something simple. I suggest an oil change. Take your car in for an oil change, and you can learn volumes of information about the mechanics and the shop. When you take your car in, be very observant. You should be a “secret agent,” checking out the place. Listen to other customers who are waiting or paying for their repairs. Ask other customers if they have ever used this shop or not. If they have not, or they are not happy with it, they will usually shrug and say “no.” If they love the place, they will usually go on and on about how wonderful the place is.
Make sure you talk with the workers at the shop, and not just the owner. The attitude of the workers will tell you a lot. If they are happy, that is usually a good sign.
Another thing to take note of is the condition of the shop. Are the actual shop and waiting room organized? You could argue that this does not mean the shop is good. But if they take the time and effort to keep things organized, they will most likely be organized when working on your vehicle.
Do They Scare You?
I suggest having a simple service done (like an oil change), so you can test their quality and level of customer service. Do they try to scare you into more expensive and possibly unnecessary repairs? If they are insistent and you feel like they are just trying to pressure you, tell them you need a second opinion and check them off your list.
How do they talk to you? Do they talk down to you? Or, do they try to explain their services and repairs in plain English. If possible, talk to a friend who knows about cars to see if what the mechanic is saying makes sense.
If they seem friendly, helpful, and do a good job with the simple stuff (like oil changes), without pressuring you into more expensive, unnecessary repairs, they may be a good find. You may want to test them further with a tuneup. If all goes well over time you find a good mechanic, you have found gold.