How to Find the Right Car Mechanic for You
Choosing the right mechanic is essential for the health of your vehicle, not to mention your sanity! Use these tips to help you on your search for the right car mechanic.
Choose Your Shop Type
For new cars still under warranty, the choice is clear: go to the dealer for no-charge repairs. For regular tune-ups, locate an independent shop, as it’s more cost effective.
If you choose to work with an independent mechanic, one of the easiest ways to sift through the cagiest of the choices is to check which ones are CAA approved. In addition, you can use the Better Business Bureau if you already have one in mind that you want to vet. For more informal advice, read the advice on Canada’s most popular car forum.
Mechanics are like snowflakes; no two are alike. While we recommend you solicit your network for recommendations, remember that what works for someone’s minivan might not be as effective for your convertible. Cross-reference any promising recommendations you receive with online reviews, but don’t let a few outliers ruin your perspective if the overall sentiment is glowing.
Consider Your Preferences
Next, think about the factors that matter most to you. Is it how quickly the job gets done? If they offer shuttle service? Or company size?
Think about whether the location is convenient for you, especially in terms of getting back home or to work. Consider taking a drive by a few of the places you’re most interested in. See how busy they are, and if the cars in the lot turn over or remain stagnant. Look at the models and makes of the cars there – are there a few similar to yours? Overall busyness can be a good thing but it also means they may not have the time to explain things at length or grapple with an unexpected issue. This may seem odd, but look at the average age of the shop’s staff. If you have an older car model, an older mechanic will be more experienced and likely have more familiarity with it and vice versa for younger mechanics.
Do a Test Run
If you have the luxury of only needing a small repair, use that as a litmus test the first time you visit. Secure at least three estimates. Inform yourself of the general cost of this repair, and see if any of the shops charge you significantly more or take much longer than expected. Don’t forget to ask about warranties as they can vary from place to place.
Remember to inquire about the kinds of parts they use. If you prefer only OEM parts that will match the car body perfectly, then you can expect to pay a premium. However, aftermarket and rebuilt components cost less and are usually just as good. If your mechanic wants to use salvaged parts, they should simply let you know.
Use Your Instincts
The mechanic-driver relationship is an important one when you consider just how long you’ll be cruising in Betty, so take the time to suss out one you are truly comfortable talking to. While we’ve provided some advice on how to talk to an auto mechanic, like any good business relationship, it shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. The mechanic should take the time to respond to your questions and explain the details of what he or she will be doing, especially if it means a lot of extra time or money, and you should feel confident leaving your second biggest purchase in their hands. Even if the mechanic has everything on this list, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, look elsewhere.