Considering that, for many of us, an automobile could be the second-biggest investment you'll ever make. It only makes sense, therefore, that you'll want to find someone who can take care of it for you, that is, a trustworthy mechanic or technician. Unfortunately, it seems that, these days, there are some people that think they can pick up a wrench and call themselves a mechanic. Sure, they may be mechanically inclined, but does that make them competent? More importantly, should you entrust your automobile to inexperienced and untrained hands?
Automobiles are more complicated than ever, so finding a well-trained and competent automobile mechanic has become more important than ever, but how do you choose? Unfortunately, there's no one thing that identifies a good mechanic, but here are a few steps to help you find a trustworthy automobile mechanic.
Make & Model
Automobiles vary according to year, make, and model, and not every automaker does things exactly the same way. True, automobiles are basically, chassis, engine, and four wheels, but systems can be vastly differ between different brands, which means that keeping up with twenty different brands is a difficult and time-consuming proposition. Most independent shops, that is, non-dealer service stations, specialize in one or two brands.
Pretty much every shop does tires and wheels, which, for the most part, don't vary between different makes. On the other hand, replacing brake pads on a Toyota and a BMW might be very different, depending on the application. If you buy a Toyota, you're far better off finding a mechanic who specializes in Toyota vehicles. Their familiarity with the brand and technology is very helpful in avoiding confusion.
Parts & Warranty
Sooner or later, every vehicle needs parts replaced. Find out what kind of parts the mechanic uses and how good they are. Cheaper parts, such as those made by aftermarket companies, are not always the best choice when it comes to a good repair. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are typically more expensive, but they are also designed to match the exact specifications of your year, make, model, and variant of vehicle.
If you spend money on a repair, does the mechanic offer any kind of warranty? For example, if the mechanic does some brake repairs on your car, but it starts squealing a week later, will he correct the problem at no cost, or will you have to pay him to do the job again?
Friends & Family
Perhaps your best bet to find a good automobile mechanic is to ask your friends and family, especially if they have the same kind of vehicle as you. People who have had bad experiences with a certain automobile mechanic will be unlikely to recommend him. On the other hand, because good news travels far slower than bad news, you might be hard-pressed to find someone with praise for a certain mechanic. Keep in mind, as well, that complaints about auto mechanics are some of the most-common around, so take negative comments with a little bit of salt.
Finally, another thing you might try is to take your car to different mechanics for some routine maintenance, such as your regular engine oil and oil filter change, or tire rotation, and then check out the work that was done. Did the mechanic stick to his quoted price? Did the mechanic communicate that some other repair was necessary? Was the job well done, that is, are the wheel nuts torqued properly, or is the oil leaking after the oil change? Did the mechanic leave greasy fingerprints and footprints all over the car? Did he break something and not admit it? How clean and organized is the shop?
Keep these things in mind as you look around for a trustworthy mechanic. Once you have found one, keep the relationship going. If a major repair should become necessary, due to mileage or damage, then having a good working relationship with your mechanic is key to getting a good repair at a good price.