How to Find Dependable Car Repair

For many people, cars are an essential tool. Automobiles take us to work so that we can pay for our homes and put food on the table. They also allow us to get out and about, socializing, shopping, and exploring the world around us. Cars that are not working properly not only make it difficult for us to complete daily tasks, they can also be a danger to ourselves and others.

It's important for drivers to know how to find a good mechanic so we can keep our cars in good working order. In most cases, finding a good car repair shop is a matter of doing some research, asking questions, and developing a relationship with a quality professional.

Don't Wait for an Emergency

Woman Car Brokedown

Unfortunately, some drivers wait for an emergency before connecting with a good mechanic. The sort of situation makes it difficult for a car owner to carefully select a shop. In addition, if the cars problem is severe, the driver is forced to turn the car over to an untested mechanic.

Many consumer advocates advise drivers to seek out a mechanic before an accident or major breakdown. All cars need regular maintenance, and many develop small issues over time. By taking a car in for a tune-up or a minor repair, you'll be able to observe the shop and experience their service. This can be reassuring in situations where your car needs major work.

Initial Research

Ideally, you'll want to put together a list of possible candidates for becoming your mechanic. Having a list allows you to research multiple car repair shops so that you can find the one that meets your needs and will work within your budget.

In many areas, car shops specialize in certain brands. Look for your car manufacturer's name on a shop’s signage, advertising, or website. In addition, a shop may also focus its practice on certain types of vehicles, such as imports, vintage, or four-wheel-drive. Some businesses limit their services as well: For example, a shop may focus entirely on painting or debt repair. Because shops can be very specialized in their services, references from family and friends may be less useful to you if these recommendations are coming from people who have a different type of car.

You can look up listings for repair shops in online or print Yellow Pages directories. Names and Numbers directories helpfully breaks out if listings into categories so you can more easily find the type of car repair service that you need. In addition to providing shop names and phone numbers, the listings often include website links as well as details about the kind of services the shop offers.

One more thing: Unlike some tradespeople, such as electricians or plumbers, work on your car takes place at the mechanic’s shop, not your home. This means that it may be in your best interest to visit and inspect the shop before bringing your car in. Things look for include organization, cleanliness and signs indicating that the shop is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Pay attention to how busy the shop is: A shop that is busy, but not chaotic, can be an indication that customers are generally pleased with the surface that it offers. You might also want to look for professional drivers that use the shop: If you see limos, taxis or cars with Uber stickers, this indicates that a professional driver trusts the shop with his or her vehicle.

Questions to Ask a Mechanic

Once you've come up with a list of possible shops, it's time to get into the final decision-making process. Mechanics can't guarantee what your final cost will be, but most can give reasonable estimates ahead of time. Ask for estimates from more than one mechanic if possible.

Unless you have access to another car, convenience should be a consideration in selecting a shop. Is the shop within walking distance of your home or office? If not, how do you plan to get home from bringing your car in or getting to the shop when it's time to pick up your vehicle? Some shops offer towing service, though there may be an extra fee for this service. Larger shops may also offer a free shuttle service. If you need to rent a car while your vehicles in the shop, don't forget to add the costs of rental to your overall budget for repairs.

Don't be afraid to ask a mechanic to explain what is wrong with your vehicle. The car belongs to you, and you have a right to know what is going on inside it. If your car is vintage or unusual, it's important to ask whether the shop has a mechanic who is experienced in working with your type of vehicle. If the mechanic is short with you, or dismisses your questions, find someone else to work with.

Ask about warranties. The mechanic should be able to guarantee his work as well as offer a warranty against possible damage during the repair process.

Check a Shop's Reputation

There are a couple of ways that you can further confirm whether a shop is a good one. Better Business Bureau offers online listings where you can check to see if there have been complaints against the shop and whether these complaints have been resolved. Online review sites can also be helpful.

Some motor clubs, such as AAA, certify shops for their members. You can check the motor club’s website to see if a shop is listed.

Final Word

If your car is acting up, the last thing you want to do is make matters worse by taking it to an unqualified mechanic. Spend some time doing research and make sure that your questions are answered to your satisfaction. This kind of effort can help you find a mechanic who will take good care of your current and future vehicles for many years down the road.

When shopping around for local car repair, be sure to check out our Auto Repair Directory.