Unfortunately for all the honest mechanics out there, repair shops have a bit of a bad reputation for ripping people off. However, anyone who’s had a great reputation with a mechanic knows that great mechanics are out there everywhere. You just have to know how to find them. By doing the right kind of research and vetting the shops before you commit to one, you’ll be well on your way to finding your new favorite mechanic.
Start with Word of Mouth
Ask your friends, your coworkers, and even on Facebook. Inquiring around is one way people found good mechanics before the Internet, and it’s still a useful tool today. Don’t end the conversation when you get a recommendation. Ask why that particular mechanic is good, how long the work usually takes, and what the prices are like. Then you can take the names you receive and look them up online to see if they service your vehicle make and have a good reputation.
Use Forums and Review Sites
Word of mouth doesn’t always work. If you’re new in town, you may not know enough people to get a good recommendation. That’s why sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Edmunds are great resources, too. Search for auto repair shops, and read the reviews. No garage will have entirely good reviews, but the overall trend should be positive. Make sure the good reviews are recent, but also that they date back a few months to ensure that the mechanic or garage in question has a consistently good reputation.
Go for a Small Job First
You have two options when it comes to testing out a mechanic with a small job. You can go in for something tiny, like an oil change, and see how much it costs you. Or, you can bring your car in for something you know you don’t need. If you just had an alignment check not too long ago, take your car in to the new shop and ask to have it checked. A bad mechanic will try to charge you for an alignment fix you don’t need, while a good one will tell you your alignment is fine already.
Check Out the Shop
Look at both the inside of the shop and the car lot to see what’s going on with the business itself. A good mechanic will typically have many customers, which means many cars in the lot and in the shop itself. Similarly, a good garage will be organized and clean. That doesn’t mean they might not have tools hanging on the walls or oil stains on the floor. It is a repair shop, after all. It does mean that the tools will be organized and in good working order, and the space won’t be in disarray.
Finding a good mechanic takes time, so don’t get discouraged if your search doesn’t immediately yield results. Keep asking around, using the Internet, and testing the waters. Soon your car will be in good hands with someone you can trust.