Finding a trustworthy and reliable mechanic to repair a vehicle is a task that no one desires. Nowadays, it seems like everyone is only concerned with only their own self-interest. Lies and half-truths abound while sincere and honest people are difficult to find. Automobile dealerships usually charge an egregious amount of money for car repairs and maintenance. Chain shops will give you the run-around without a second thought. The key is to find an independent shop that won’t screw you over. Let’s take a look at how to accomplish this challenge.
Join Your Local Car Club
There is a good chance that your city has a local car club. The car lovers who comprise this group can provide invaluable advice. The best part is that they live and work in your own community. Meeting face to face with these individuals is much more helpful than leaning on the content of anonymous online shop reviews. So head on out to your local car club for your car’s brand / model and pick the minds of these auto enthusiasts. Most of them will be able to testify to the merits (or lack thereof) of local shops. They will tell you which shops provide high quality maintenance and repairs for an affordable price. Also, ask around to find out which shops work on classic cars. If you can find a local shop that works on restoring classic vehicles, you will be able to feel good about bringing your car in to them as you know that they are dedicated to their craft.
Make the Rounds
Invest a little bit of time in a shop scouting mission. Stop on in at a few local shops and take a look around. If you spot a clean working space that is well organized, there is a good chance that the mechanics take pride in their work and perform it with precision. Make sure that the shop has ample lighting. If the lighting is generally dim or poor in certain sections, it is an indication that the owner or manager is trying to cut costs in an unnecessary manner. Also, inspect the parking lot as well. Just about every respectable auto shop puts forth an effort to keep its entire premises clean. They also will not allow cars to sit in the lot for an extended period of time. If you drive by and see the same vehicles in the lot throughout the week, the shop is likely letting broken down cars rust in their lot. That is not a good sign.
Have a Conversation with Shop Mechanics
Do not be afraid to talk to the shops’ mechanics. While you might not know a lot about cars and can’t speak with a mechanic on the same level as another gear head, you should not hesitate to strike up a conversation. Doing so will give you a good idea of whether they can communicate in a clear manner and whether they are trustworthy. Get a gauge of their straightforwardness, experience and general vibe. Be sure to ask them about the parts that they use for replacements and repairs. Take a look at a Chilton, Haynes or dealer manual to find out an accurate price range of how much specific parts should cost and the number of minutes or hours that the repair should take. This way, you can avoid doing business with a shop that exaggerates its prices and repair times.
Start out Small
Test the waters with a minor job such as an inspection. This allows you to get a gauge of how quickly the personnel works, whether they value customer interactions and whether they are honest with their prices.
Peruse the Internet for Reviews and Testimonials
As soon as you notice a problem with your car, you should hop onto the Internet and perform some research. Take a look at review sites and car oriented message boards for information about the best local shops. If you find a flurry of uber-negative reviews, do not immediately take them seriously. The world wide web makes it very easy for people to provide nasty feedback over the most minor inconveniences or misunderstandings. Obtain shop reviews from a myriad of websites, compare them and settle on a shop. While you might be intimidated by the sheer volume of automobile information available online, do not fret. Focus your sleuthing efforts on websites like Yelp, Google, Angie’s List and local message boards.
Yelp is one of the best resources because it is free, has voluminous information and typically offers highly detailed reviews from a variety of perspectives. Perform a focused search for “auto repair” and enter your zip code. From here, you can sort the search results according to rating, the number of reviews and distance from your location. Look for shops with numerous reviews. Focus in on those with the most positive reviews. Be sure to read through some of them to identify common threads that serve to gauge the shops’ individual merits. Remember that some reviews are placed on Yelp to intentionally mislead prospective customers. So invest some time in reading multiple reviews of a handful of shops before settling on one.
Angie’s List is very helpful as the website comprehensively vets its reviewers and sincerely tries to stop them from posting false or misleading content. Search for local auto repair shops and you will likely find some high quality reviews. While you might not find as many reviews on Angie’s List as you will on Yelp, most will be informative and accurate.
When using Google to find a local mechanic, do not be intimidated by the voluminous search results. Narrow your search by typing in “mechanic” or “auto repair” and your zip code. Scroll past the advertisements at the top of the search results page and focus on the shops that are in the middle and bottom sections of the page. Then take a look at Google’s reviews and scores for each shop.