How to Choose a Quality Mechanic

The phrase “good help is hard to find” can be especially true when choosing a mechanic. Frankly, there’s a number of factors to consider here, and each can affect everything from insurance to the cost of ownership. Additionally, a good shop won’t be charging you the same rates as a dealership, saving you money. What’s more, if you find a mechanic you do trust, it’s a lifetime relationship you can maintain. Personally, this has led to many perks and good friends. But, you’ve got to start small.

Know what questions to ask a mechanic

A mechanic works on a car's exhaust system
Working on a car’s exhaust | Vano Shlamov via Getty Images

Just knowing what questions to ask a mechanic goes a long way. However, the “how” is important too. Try not to pry, or you’ll just get the corporate response, which won’t be getting you anything but upset. First and foremost, ask people you know personally, especially if they drive the same car as you. Better yet, ask the auto enthusiast or mechanic in your life. They’ll likely take any chance they can to talk cars with someone.

Now, the second question is a big one. See if a shop offers warranties. You can call, but it’s also good to go in in person and look your potential mechanic in the eyes. Trusting your instincts on the people you meet is a solid move. Often these warranties will vary in length, according to Consumer Reports. Finally, be sure to make small talk with the employees there if the opportunity presents itself. If the mechanics seem happy, odds are the shop is a good choice.

Do lots of research, then do more

A mechanic works in an auto body shop in Italy
A good body shop can be hard to find | Alessio Coser via Getty Images

Doing your research is another big part of finding a mechanic and shop that you can trust. The most obvious way to do this is through reviews online. When reading them, pay attention to the tone, one disgruntled customer does not a bad mechanic make. Moreover, take a look at the Better Business Bureau for ratings. The organization ranks shops online for you, giving you a helpful place to start.

Now, this next one is a non-negotiable. Your potential shop and its mechanics should all be ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) certified. This certification is a form of verifying that both the mechanic and the shop as a whole do proper work. Ideally, a shop’s technicians will all be ASE certified.

Start small

A Japanese technician works on a Toyota SUV
Working on a Toyota, a rare sight | Tomohiro Ohsumi via Getty Images

Now that you’ve nailed down a shop to try out, give them a test run. Pick a service that your car needs and have it done. Ensure that the service is something you know well enough to verify the quality of the work. For example, ask them to change your air filter and spark plugs. This service should be under $250 in most cases and will let you verify that everything got screwed together right. Of course, you ought to be looking for a mechanic before your car needs that big unforeseen service. With these tips in mind, it should be a breeze to find yourself a solid mechanic. Techs work long hard hours to keep your vehicle on the road, so be sure to treat them right.

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