Finding the right mechanic for you can be a tough and intimidating process. It can be hard to know who you can trust and who you should avoid. To be sure that you are putting your vehicle in trustworthy hands, find the answers to these questions before you commit:
1. What certifications do your mechanics have?
Mechanics working for any trustworthy shop should hold at least an ASE certification. This certification is presented by the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Mechanics who qualify will have at least two years of on-the-job experience and will have passed a test. Other certifications like those from Napa, O’Reilly or AAA can come with warranties on repairs that might not otherwise be available.
2. Who do you recommend? Who should I avoid?
These are questions to ask local friends and family members when you are looking for a mechanic. If someone else has had a good experience with a specific mechanic, there’s a better chance that you will, too.
3. How long will this repair take?
Unsavory shops will sometimes inflate the labor costs associated with a job and charge for two or three hours when the task really takes just 30 minutes. When you are gathering quotes, ask how many labor hours are expected. Then, do some homework in car repair forums to see what the average time is for doing this sort of job. Mechanics who skew far higher should be avoided.
4. Can I talk to the mechanic?
In many shops, there is often a middle man who will handle customer communication while mechanics stay in the back. This can help with clearer communications regarding scheduling and price, but it insulates you from the people who will actually be doing the work. When you ask to talk to the mechanic, you can get a chance to feel out the person who will be personally working with your car. This conversation can help you decide whether you’ll be in good hands.
5. Do you have access to technical service bulletins (TSBs)?
TSBs are lists of instructions on how to fix common issues with particular car models. Dealerships will have these by default; many independent and chain auto shops have access to these, as well. These documents can make many repairs quicker, which can save you money in labor costs.
A little preparation can allow you to enter a mechanic’s shop feeling a lot more confident. Doing a little independent research and asking the right questions can help you ensure that you are getting the best price as well as good service.