How to choose a mechanic

On the Road 3 min read

Regardless of make or model, eventually, your car will require some service. Finding a reliable mechanic is crucial to keeping your car on the road and running well for as long as you own it. From a simple oil change to new tires, scheduled maintenance, or repairing a failed part, a skilled mechanic is your car’s best friend. Learning to do a few simple car maintenance tasks can help keep your car running longer.

But if your car is broken and needs help beyond your skills, finding a car mechanic can be stressful if you don’t have somewhere to take it for a repair. The first step in planning for such an eventuality is to find a good local mechanic. A trustworthy mechanic will meet the needs of both your vehicle and your lifestyle.

Find a good mechanic by knowing what you need

Before we get into specifics, there are a few things to consider when deciding what you need from a mechanic. Consider if your car is still under warranty or requires special maintenance or attention. It’s also important to know what service you want for your car and how flexible you can be with your time. If your car is still under warranty, speak with the provider to ensure that you select a service option that doesn’t endanger the balance of your warranty. Learn the difference between car warranties vs. car insurance.

Some cars may require the mechanic to have specific training and tools to work on your car. These vehicles include high-performance models, highly modified cars, or rare brands. Not only does every car have specific needs, but owners will also vary in the service they want for their car. While some owners will want all scheduled maintenance completed to the exact requirements of the manufacturer, others would prefer to wait until the car breaks down before seeking a repair.

If you are under time constraints, choose a mechanic or dealership closer to your work if you want to maintain your car on a service schedule. Having a mechanic nearby your job would allow you to leave the car in their service department during the day.

How to find a mechanic you can trust

Ask your friends and family

Assuming you have some friends or co-workers who live in a similar area, ask them for a referral to the garage that services their vehicles. A referral can limit many of the variables in selecting a quality garage. Ask your friends about how the mechanic works, how well they communicate, if they’ve been fair in the past, and if they make recommendations regarding the vehicle’s condition and future service needs.

Read reviews

You can find reviews for auto service providers on websites like restaurants and hotels. To find a good mechanic in your area, search on Yelp or a mechanic-specific review service like Car Talk’s Mechanics Files. Dig deeper than the star ratings for a better idea of the accuracy of a review. Remember that in an ideal scenario, a mechanic will likely know more than the average car owner, so be sure to consider the knowledge of the person writing the review.

Additionally, consider cross-referencing any well-reviewed options with services like the Better Business Bureau or AAA (no membership required to search).

Ask questions

Having uncovered a few well-reviewed garages in your area, give them a call or stop in for a chat and consider asking the following questions:

  • Are they capable of servicing your car?
  • How long would you wait if you brought your vehicle in for a repair?
  • Do they offer a guarantee for their work?
  • Do they post their hourly rates, and do those rates vary by car model?
  • Are their mechanics ASE-certified?
  • Do they charge for an initial inspection or estimate for a costly repair?

Following the above recommendations will help you to find a garage that can work with your specific service needs. A good mechanic is crucial in ensuring your car from a cheap daily commuter, to something decidedly more special, gets you wherever you want to go and that you don’t arrive in a cloud of smoke or on the back of a tow truck. Learn about Progressive’s mechanical breakdown insurance, how it works, and what car repairs it can cover.

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