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How to Find the Right Mechanic for Your Auto Repairs

Your check engine light is on. You used FIXD to figure out the problem, and it’s something pretty urgent. The question is: do you have a mechanic you can trust?

Many car owners make the mistake of waiting until there’s a problem to find a good auto mechanic. But when you’re dealing with an emergency repair, you don’t have time to weed through reviews, visit the shop to look around and ask questions.

That’s why we always recommend looking for a mechanic before there’s an issue. Whether you’re taking our advice or are stuck in a pickle with an emergency repair, you can use these tips to find the right mechanic for your vehicle.

Ask for Recommendations

When your car needs repairs, you don’t want to take chances with a mechanic. You need someone you can trust. If a friend or family member had a good experience with a local mechanic, there’s a good chance that you’ll also have a good experience.

Ask you friends, loved ones, neighbors – anyone you trust – for recommendations on a mechanic. These are people who will have your best interests in mind and won’t steer you in the direction of an unfavorable place.

Go Through Reviews with a Fine-Tooth Comb

Even if you receive recommendations from trustworthy friends, it’s important to take the time to read through reviews before giving the shop your business.

Reviews say a lot about a business, particularly in the auto repair world.

Read through both the positive and negative reviews to get a clearer picture of the mechanics you’re dealing with. Even the best mechanics will still have at least a few unfavorable reviews – you can’t please everyone. But what are the customers complaining about? Do their demands seem unreasonable? Is there a serious problem with the mechanic?

Use these reviews as a guide to find a reliable mechanic in your area.

Along with online reviews, I also recommend visiting the Better Business Bureau‘s website to check on the shop’s ratings and reviews.

Look for Certifications

When researching mechanics, check to see if the shop is certified by a relevant agency. Certified garages are usually your best bet. Why? Because they cannot hire unqualified mechanics to work on the cars in their shop.

One of the certifications to look for is the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE). Mechanics that are ASE certified have gone through rigorous testing to meet the agency’s standards.

ASE actually tests and certifies each individual mechanic (not a repair facility), and the testing is extensive. There are eight written exams and several hands-on tests. They also require extra testing for specialty services, like painting, collision repair, and more.

If you want to be sure that your car will be repaired by a true professional, look for shops that only hire ASE certified mechanics.

Ask About Insurance

Automotive shops should have three types of insurance:

  • General liability: Covers damages if your car is damaged while in the shop or if you’re injured while on the property.
  • Worker’s compensation: Legally required and covers accidents that happen to workers on the job.
  • Business owner’s policy: Covers the business property and its assets.

Make sure that any shop you consider has the appropriate insurance coverage. If something goes wrong, you want to make sure that you’ll be made whole again.

AAA-Approved Network

Even if you’re not a member of AAA, you can still view the shops listed in their Approved Auto Repair Network.

All of the shops in AAA’s network must provide 12-month/12,000-mile warranties on their repairs. They must also use ASE-certified technicians and pass the organization’s annual inspection.

You can be sure that you’re working with a true professional if you choose a shop on AAA’s Approved Auto Repair Network.

Visit the Shop and Ask Questions

Once you have a few shops in mind, you may want to drop in and see what the shop looks like. While you’re there, you can ask a few questions.

If your car needs some work done, ask the shop some questions related to your repair. An experienced, knowledgeable mechanic will be able to answer your questions and be happy to do so.

Here are a few other questions that you may want to ask the shop:

  • Do you guarantee your work? Do you offer any warranties?
  • What types of parts do you use: used, new, after-market, OEM?
  • Do you guarantee your estimates?
  • How many years have you been in business? How much experience do you have?
  • What types of vehicles do you specialize in?
  • Do you offer loaner cars or a free shuttle while cars are being repaired?
  • What are your payment policies?

If any of the shop’s answers don’t meet your expectations, you may want to move on to another one.

Test Them Out

It’s always best to look for a mechanic before you need a major repair. This way, you can test out their services on a smaller repair or better yet – a maintenance task.

Take your car in for an oil change or tire rotation. A good mechanic will warn you of any upcoming repairs you might need, even when performing maintenance.

Don’t Go by Price Alone

If your car needs a repair and you’ve collected estimates from a few different garages, your first instinct may be to choose the cheapest mechanic on the list. But that may not be the best idea.

Keep in mind that when you take your car in for repairs, you’re paying for more than just parts and labor; you’re also paying for technical expertise and professionalism.

Does that mean that you should choose the most expensive repair shop? No. But a bargain isn’t always a bargain either.

Trust Your Gut

Always trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable with the shop or something doesn’t feel right, move on to another place.

Don’t ignore the red flags either. If the shop has poor customer reviews, or you’ve heard bad things about a mechanic that works there, it may be worth going to another shop instead.

November 13, 2019


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