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Finding the right mechanic

There are certainties that come with car ownership, and car repairs is one of those certainties.  No matter the age of a car, it is inevitable that repairs will have to be made in order to keep it functioning properly.  In order to complete routine maintenance, have your car inspection on a regular basis, and undergo necessary repairs, you will need to find a decent mechanic in your area.  For some people, the act of finding a mechanic is as emotionally taxing as finding a good accountant, hair stylist, and credit union in their area.  It’s a tough decision and there are many factors that must be considered in order the make the right choice. 

Some people choose their local dealership from which they purchased their car, and if it’s still financed through a bank, this is probably a good idea.  In order to not be considered at fault for any defect in the car as a result of after-market parts being installed, sticking with the dealership is going to be your safest bet.  However, for some people, this isn’t always the best option.  Dealerships tend to be quite a bit more expensive for labor that a local mechanic, and as they will only use brand name parts, the cost of goods will also be extensively higher.  In order to keep a car in its best shape and save a lot of extra money, it will probably be a good decision to find a good mechanic in your area.

All too often, however, people are intimidated by mechanics, and can be easily talked into unnecessary services because they’re afraid that they don’t know enough about cars to question them.  As recent studies have indicated, women are typically the victims of this type of swindling, and nearly 35% of them are overcharged.  A mechanic needs to be as trusted as your family doctor, as honest as your clergyman, and as capable as a rocket scientist.  They will wear many hats when it comes to your vehicle, but how do you find a good one?  What are the factors to which you should be paying attention?

  • Turnaround Time – If the local mechanic is known for taking six hours to get an oil change through his shop when you scheduled it, it’s time to find a new mechanic. Always schedule an appointment when you can, and at least once, wait to see how much time is actually spent working and how much time is spent socializing at the shop.  If you schedule an appointment, a good mechanic should be able to estimate, after checking the car out, how long it will take to repair.  If it consistently takes hours, or even days, longer than his estimate, find a new mechanic.
  • Capability – A good mechanic should not be stumped by a simple problem. A really good mechanic can typically even diagnose a problem simply from the description of its symptoms.  If you take your car to the shop and are told the problem of fixed, how many people have had the issue reoccur within a couple of months?  A good mechanic will fix it right the first time, because he is aware that good service will keep you coming back which means a steady paycheck instead of just a random windfall.
  • Price – If the price for an oil change at your mechanic’s shop is the same as the huge oil change chains, they don’t have good prices. The chains are able to keep their prices where they are because they can get your car in and out in thirty minutes or less.  Typically, a good mechanic can do the same if you schedule an appointment with them, but their price should be nowhere near that number.  They also won’t tell you that there are mysterious add-ons in an effort to upsell you.
  • Word of Mouth – Local word of mouth is going to be the easiest way to figure out if the local guy on the corner is better than the shop two towns over. People will always talk about whether or not they are satisfied with their car repair technicians and will often go into great detail about their capabilities, costs, and turnaround time.  Everyone has something to say about service they’ve received, and listening to them is a good way to discern the best mechanic shop in your area.

It may not seem as imperative as finding a good doctor, or a great gym in your area, but having a rapport with a good mechanic is a handy little card to keep in your back pocket.  Suppose something goes wrong with your car right before you’re about to leave for vacation, a lot of times a personal relationship will get you seen.  Developing a steady stream of contact with a local mechanic will allow for peace of mind that your car is in the best hands, that you’re not being taken across in terms of cost, and that you’ll be better able to get a quick fix should something go wrong.  Checking on the details mentioned above will also help to figure out the best in the area quite easily.

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