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Quest For A Good Mechanic

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On: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 1:00PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Quest For A Good Mechanic

There’s no question about it, finding a good mechanic is about as hard as finding a good doctor or dentist—probably harder! At least with a doctor you’ve got some recourse, mostly legal, if there’s a problem. But with a mechanic, there’s not much you can do about it if you’ve been had.

The best source of information regarding reliable and professional service at fair prices (and with it, a measure of trust), is through word of mouth. But even if a shop gets rave reviews from your family or friends, it’s best to also find out if the facility specializes in certain types of cars, and how long the shop has been used by the person who made the recommendation.

I’ve always felt that a shop that is busy all the time is probably a good bet—unless it’s the only one in town. This kind of shop will typically require an appointment for everything, except for a minor adjustment or emergency service.

Another helpful criterion is general tidiness and cleanliness. I prefer to have my cars worked on at a relatively well-organized place instead of a dump. Fancy waiting rooms and bathrooms aren’t that important, but the quality of the shop itself is. Take a look in their shop—do they have all the latest electronic and diagnostic equipment? If they don’t have the proper equipment, how can they do the right job? I would also take a look on their walls to see if the mechanics (technicians, as they prefer to be called) have been trained in certain specialized areas and have their certificates on display.

What about those big, national auto repair chains? Big doesn’t mean better. One of the largest repair chains, part of an equally large nationwide department store chain, was recently indicted for pushing unnecessary repairs and parts onto customers. Here’s a case where government regulation pays off, as this isn’t the first time large corporations have tried to take advantage of an unsuspecting public and, unfortunately, won’t be the last.

Back to repair shops. As a general rule, find out what kind of warranty they give with their work. At the very least, they should guarantee their work and parts for one year or 12,000 miles. And I would also feel better if when they replace parts, they replace them with OEM (Original Equipment) parts rather than some schlock brand.

If you’re not mechanically hip, ask and make sure that what they’re going to repair is approved by you, and just as important, clearly explained to you. There’s nothing more disconcerting than when, after you’ve authorized a specific repair, the mechanic comes out and tells you that he also noticed that the engine was going bad so he thought it would be a good idea to replace it. If at all possible, get a written estimate.

Once you’ve developed a good working relationship, a measure of trust develops so that you can count on the shop not to overcharge you, and make only the repairs that are necessary at that time.

It’s a real pleasure to deal with a place like that. And the good part is, they are out there—you just have to find them.



dwalter | 4:34PM (Wed, Aug 24, 2011)

some great tips

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