It always happens at the worst time. When you are running errands, on a road trip, or on your way to work, and all of a sudden your car begins to make a noise. Shortly after that, the ‘check engine’ light turns on. When you finally get to see a mechanic, they give you a laundry list of expensive parts that need replacing. Oh, and by the way, while they were checking out your car’s original issue, they found 5 others that need to be fixed too. Since you aren’t too sure how serious these issues can be, you agree to all of the repairs and walk away with a very expensive bill.
Has this happened to you? If it has, then you are probably in need of some tips on how to find an honest mechanic!
While your area has lots of great, trustworthy mechanics to choose from, there are unfortunately some people who seek to upsell, overcharge, and perform shoddy repairs. Having a mechanic that you can rely on can save you lots of money and future headaches when it comes to vehicle repairs and maintenance. Below are some tips on how you can be sure to find an honest mechanic:
1. Get to know your car
Let’s be honest – most people don’t know much about their car, so when a mechanic explains problems to them they just smile and nod along like they understand everything fully. Nobody asked you to become an expert – that’s why we have mechanics – but it may be a good idea to know a few things about how your car operates. A quick Google search will provide hundreds of videos and articles, and you can even find information specific to your car’s make and model. Your best first line of defence against a dishonest mechanic is knowing your vehicle and how it works, and those 20-30 minutes of research can really pay off!
2. Do some research
Knowing a bit about how your car operates is a great start, but how will you know if you are getting ripped off when it comes to repairs? Do you feel confident comparing one auto shop to another and spotting a fair price? Do you know how long repairs should take on average? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you know right away if you are dealing with an honest mechanic or not.
Any mechanic will charge a premium for parts (higher than what you may be able to purchase on Ebay or Amazon), but dishonest mechanics will charge a much higher price. They will also often charge you for more time than actually required for the repair. To avoid this, head back to Google! Do some research for the type of repair needed (on your make and model if possible), the average amount of time needed to perform the repair, and the average price. Be sure to pay attention to the pricing somewhere in the middle rather than the highest or lowest values. Once you have an idea of what the price should look like, don’t be afraid to call a few different shops and ask for an estimate. If it is a common repair, they should be able to give you a rough price right away.
3. Find a specialty shop
Many car owners like to take their car to a dealership that specializes in their make of vehicle, but this option can be pricey. It is generally cheaper to take your car to a local, independent mechanic that works on all makes and models, but there can be downsides to this too. A great solution to this dilemma is to look around your area for an independent shop that specializes in your car’s make. If you can find one, great! If not, another independent shop is completely fine if you use the other strategies in this article.
4. Look for recommendations
Finding good recommendations is one of the easiest ways to find a trustworthy mechanic. First, ask people in your immediate circles for a mechanic recommendation. Your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbours are real people who may provide a more realistic review than a stranger on the internet.
If you have no luck with your close contacts, take a look at online reviews. Yelp and Google reviews are a great place to start – but always take online reviews with a grain of salt. A good general rule of thumb is to disregard the best and worst review, and look into the middle-ground reviews.
5. Take note of cleanliness
Cleanliness and tidiness is everything – even in a garage! When you arrive at the shop, take note of how it looks. If you get to see the garage itself, does it look organized? Are there tools scattered around? What about the parking lot – are the cars neatly arranged and easy for owners to find? All of these small things will give clues about how the business operates and presents themselves to customers.
6. Ask about certifications
Always ask a potential mechanic about their shop and technician certifications. Certifications are definitely one way to see if a shop takes professionalism and training seriously, and they often go side by side with service warranties.
7. Chat with the mechanic
How will you know your mechanic is honest if you don’t speak to them? If they have the time, always be sure to chat with the mechanic about your repair after they have completed the work. This will help you gauge how knowledgeable they are and how much you trust them. It may feel awkward to ask to speak with the mechanic, but it is a great way to determine whether or not you want that person working on your car in the future.
8. Start will a small scale repair
If you have found a mechanic who you think might work well for you, what’s next? The best option is to start out with a small, routine job like an oil change or inspection. Once the job is done, how did you feel about the experience? If you felt like the mechanics were honest and trustworthy, the price was reasonable, and you were not up-selled, you are good to go for larger repairs.
Ready to find an honest mechanic? Simply search for a mechanic in your area and look for ones that have over Google 100 reviews.