How to Select a Mechanic You Can Trust
The current economic climate prevents people from upgrading or replacing their cars with new ones as frequently as they once did. As a result, they need their cars to last longer which requires regular servicing and mechanical repairs to keep their cars in good, dependable running condition. Furthermore, drivers want to spend as little as possible to maintain and repair their vehicles, so finding an auto repair centers that won’t gouge them with excessive fees and marked-up parts pricing is important. The answer? A local, certified independent auto repair mechanic!
Regardless of your area, there are likely hundreds of repair shops to choose from. Here are some tips for finding a mechanic you can trust:
Ask for Recommendations
Ask your family or friends, especially ones who have had recent auto work completed. You may be surprised to see how many of your contacts already have relationships with local repair shops, and personal recommendations are a great way to find a mechanic you can trust. Some of your friends and co-workers may have mechanics who have been repairing their cars for years. These are the mechanics who build long-term relationships with their customers, and you should feel comfortable calling them for your next appointment – at least for the chance to form your own opinion after meeting the technician and shop owner.
Want even better recommendations for your specific type of vehicle? Ask a salesperson at the local dealership if they know of any technicians that have left the dealership to start their own shop. This path will likely lead you to an independent auto repair technician whom you know has dealership experience and expertise in your specific vehicle make.
Ask about Certification and Experience
Whether it’s Mercedes –Benz repair or BMW repair you want (or any other car make and model for that matter) , an ASE certified technician should be your first choice. A Master Certified ASE technician is even better still – less than 25% of techs nationwide achieve master certification, and the ones who do have excelled at more than 40 comprehensive tests created to gauge knowledge in all facets of vehicle maintenance and repairs, including AC and Heating systems, Engine repairs, auto motive electrical systems, hydraulic components, etc.
ASE certification won’t tell you the whole story though. You need to find an independent mechanic that has plenty of “real world” experience at various levels. Ask the technician about their years of experience, the types of environments they’ve worked in, they amount of additional training and continuing education they’ve completed, etc. Automotive systems change dramatically in a relatively short amount of time. Today, good mechanics have to practically be computer programmers and electrical engineers to navigate the complicated car computer and electrical systems. You want to find an independent mechanic who has past experience working at quality service centers and one that has made it a point to stay abreast of vehicle changes and modern automotive systems.
Equipment and Suppliers
It is no secret that corporate dealerships likely have a larger tool and equipment budget when compared to a local independent repair shop, but that does not mean that the independents can’t compete. One of the greatest investments for an independent repair shop is in quality, commercial grade computer diagnostic equipment and specialty tools. You’ll want to ask the independent auto repair shop what type of equipment they have and if they use computer diagnostic equipment. Today independent repair shops have access to data and diagnostic tools as dealerships
You’d also be wrong to assume that independent mechanics won’t use OEM parts and equipment for your repairs. Independent mechanics often have a network of suppliers for OEM parts and can offer you better pricing on these parts than you would receive at the dealership – thanks to lower rates of mark-up and lower supply costs. Of course, a good independent auto technician will also be able to give you quality after market options if applicable for your vehicle. They should be able to counsel you on when it is important to stick with the OEM solution, and when it might be beneficial to consider an after-market part or repair to save you money while providing comparable quality.
The independent mechanic you choose should be able to provide an estimate of the price he’s going to charge you. Most will offer free estimates so you can make an informed decision and compare service providers. It is right to expect that the mechanic will communicate with you if the repairs will be more than the estimate provided as is sometimes the case when more details are discovered as the work commences. However this should not happen frequently if the mechanic is taking the appropriate care and time to correctly diagnose the problem in the beginning. You should make it very clear to any mechanic you are working with that you want to approve all repairs and charges prior to the work being completed if it differs from the repair estimate already provided.