5 Steps to Finding a Great Auto Repair Shop

September 6, 2016




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Your favorite barista may know your name and drink order by heart, but can you picture having that kind of relationship with your mechanic? Hopefully, you don’t find yourself frequenting the shop once-a-day with a new problem, but you shouldn’t have to in order to forge a great relationship with your local repair shop.

Since the average person knows little about car repair, it easy to feel overwhelmed when talking to your mechanic, especially now that car manufacturing has become so sophisticated technology-wise. If it was hard to grasp what a head gasket is, it’s almost impossible to comprehend computerized systems.

If you want to trust your mechanic—and believe me, there are a lot of honest ones out there—you need to find one who is worthy of that trust.

Here are some things to consider when looking for a good mechanic and how to build a solid relationship with him or her once you do find that person.

1. Talk To Your Friends And Colleagues

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When I was looking for a good mechanic, I immediately asked my car-owning friends. If someone is thrilled with their mechanic, chances are you will be, too. It takes a lot to get excited about a mechanic, and to actually find one who is trustworthy, so it’s a safe bet to trust people who rave about theirs.

2. Check Out The Shop And Its Certifications

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Once you get a few recommendations, check out a couple of places. Look at the grounds and work areas: are they clean? If the lot is filled with run-down pickup trucks and you’re driving the newest hybrid, it might not be the right place for you.

Look for automotive certifications like ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Certified or RepairPal Certified. Shops who have achieved industry certifications have been vetted and the consumer can expect a professional, quality experience.

3. Talk To Your Mechanic

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A lot of people think the more they tell a mechanic, the higher the cost of the repair will be. Actually, the opposite is true. Hiding symptoms can only lead to higher charges for diagnostics. Share everything you know right from the beginning. 

Once you notice a problem, it can be helpful to take notes of symptoms to help jog your memory. Information about leaks, when the problem occurs (during acceleration, only when the car is cold, etc.), strange noises, driving habits, and running problems will only help your mechanic find the problem quicker, which means cheaper for you! You can even ask the technician to ride along with you to duplicate the problem.

4. Be A Positive Customer

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When you’re experiencing a problem with your vehicle, and maybe a bit of pocketbook anxiety, it’s easy to get wrapped up in unpleasant feelings and project those onto others. Mechanics are people too, and people respond well when they are treated with respect and friendliness.

Don’t get defensive if your mechanic wants to talk with you about preventative maintenance—he or she is interested in building a relationship with you over the long haul and talking about preventative maintenance will help you save money in the end. On the other hand, if your mechanic is always trying to upsell you every time you bring in your car (Oh, sure we can change your oil today, but how about four new tires and transmission overhaul?), it might be time to find a new one.

5. Refer Your Mechanic To Others

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Want to make your mechanic love you? Refer him or her to your friends and colleagues. This is the best compliment you can give to a mechanic you trust. People love it when you refer them to your friends—whether it’s a mechanic, hairdresser, or photographer. Who knows, you might make them so happy, they will offer you a discount in the future. Referrals show that you trust your mechanic and an honest mechanic will love you for it.

Don’t forget to check out RepairPal Certified shops, which have been thoroughly examined for the best practices when it comes to auto repair.

You can find shops near your zip code and read verified reviews from your neighbors that were looking for a trustworthy repair experience, just like you!

About the Author

Guest Author is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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