How to choose a good mechanic.
A good mechanic shop where you feel comfortable makes car ownership much easier. You should find a shop that is clean and with professional mechanics that will be at that same shop for years.
Once you find a good shop you will want to bring all your cars to them and remain loyal as long as you get great service. With a long term relationship like this you can call to find out what could be a slow day to bring a car or two in that you are considering to purchase.
After a few visits to a shop for regular tune ups and maintenance they will get to know your car and be able to give advice about things that are likely to need repair soon. This is good to know, as you may not want to stay with a car that is like to need major work soon.
Probably the best way to find a good shop is to ask people you know that have lived in that area a long time. People love to talk about their experiences with mechanics and you can find a few good recommendations to start your search. People can also steer you away from a bad deal or shops that
give poor service.
It is hard to be on the spot with a need for a mechanic and not have a regular shop to use. If you are new to an area you should get to know a few shops before there is any need for repairs. Find at least one shop and preferably only one shop that will service all of your repair needs.
Things to look for.
· Check or ask for their credentials. There are different certifications for various major areas of automotive repair and maintenance. Make sure that you look for a shop that has them all covered. You should want to know that a brake technician really does know about brakes.
· The A.S.E. Symbol displayed at a repair shop indicates that they have employees with at least two and one half years experience in at least one major area of automotive repairs.
· A well-established shop may have more customers but they often retain mechanics for a long time and give better service. This is of course not a rule but still it is a good guideline. Mechanic shops that maintain full bays and have been there for years are often worth checking out.
· A clean or tidy shop is a good sign always. Mechanics that take pride in their work areas and the condition of their tools usually take the same care in their work. Look for things like the use of plastic covers over the driver seats so as to not get them dirty.
· Check on a shops history, check with the Better Business Bureau and other local agencies that license and monitor local businesses. When you check with the BBB and other offices it is best to have a number of business you are checking on. It save you and them a lot of time.
· Location of a shop is often important, especially if you only have one vehicle. A location that is near your work and home is wise. If you have only one car you might also consider public transportation routes to avoid walking long distance to go pick up your car.
· Consider the price per hour shop rate and ask about a list of set prices per service, often called "menu pricing". Shops that have a visible list of menu price in their customer area are often good at those items and do a lot of them. Be careful about shops that only do those things, a full ser
vice shop is a car owners best friend.
· Most shops offer the parts warranty from the manufacturer of that product. Unless the state otherwise you should not assume that there is any labor warranty. If it is not clearly stated be sure to ask.
Once you have a solid relationship with a maintenance and repair facility you should never assume anything. Even after years of great service a shop may try to "slip one past you". Most reputable mechanic shops wont do this but with changes in staff and management things can happen.
Make sure that all estimates for repairs or maintenance work is itemized and that all work that you are to pay for are listed. It is often a good idea to get a second opinion on expensive repair estimates, especially if you don't understand them well. When getting a second opinion avoid discussio
n of the first estimate.
Always keep your receipt for automotive repairs and maintenance. It is also important to keep copies of the work orders and any warranty forms for parts used. Everything should be clear as to what you paid for and should match the estimate.
Any time your mechanic replaces parts on your car due to wear or damage you can ask to see them. Even if you don't know what you are looking for an inspection of the part will often show why it failed. If you don't understand you can ask them to explain it. Also ask if that part failure is likely
to affect other parts on the vehicle and did they look to be sure they were ok.
It is a good idea to keep a journal on each of your vehicles. Use these to document any work done and make notes about your experience especially if you have an odd experience. Fasten the relevant receipts to the page with any notes about that work. You may need to refer back to these for warrant
ies, disputes and any number of other reasons. A journal like this is useful at tax time and when you sell your car.