Just like a doctor, a mechanic is someone we need to be able to trust to look after the health of our car, not just for when something goes wrong, but also for regular check-ups and a consistent service history if and when you decide to sell your car onto someone else. So what do you need to know, and how do you go about finding one? I’ve identified some basics to help you get a clearer idea.
I know first-hand that going with the family doctor isn’t always the best way as I always found I was going back two or three times to get the right prescription for the problem. The same applies to the family mechanic. Perhaps they’re near retiring or don’t understand some of the electronics involved in modern cars. Whatever the reason may be, searching for someone local to home is a good idea not only for convenience if you can’t start the car in the morning or need them to make a home visit, but also because they are aware of giving good service to those who live locally.
If you have family, friends, or fellow employees who can recommend a mechanic, that’s a good start. However, you should also go online to read reviews about the recommended mechanic and compare them to others around the area. Look at the more intricate reviews for detailed service and cost comparison instead of the short obligatory ‘good service and value’ comments that are left. If there are any bad reviews, make sure you read through what the bad review was about as sometimes it can be for some flimsy reason like they had to wait an extra day for the part to arrive and be fitted. Another avenue of research are local car clubs who depend on quality service for their beloved vehicles.
One of the essential qualities to look for in your next mechanic is experience – not just in working with cars in general, but that they have experience in working with the make and model you have or are currently thinking of buying. Sure, a basic service can be carried out by most mechanics with no problem, but for transmission serving or replacing, or any other larger or specific issue, it pays to go to someone who knows the ins and outs of your specific car. Some mechanics specialize in certain brands of car, others are experienced in American, European or Japanese brands overall, and some know of someone who is better suited for your vehicle. Going with a dealership will give you the recommended experience, lubricants and parts needed for your car, but that also comes with a much more expensive price and less personalized service. You can have ten different mechanics work on your car over ten visits whereas a local shop will no doubt be thinking they will be see your car again for servicing or other work, so they want to ensure they do the best job while getting to know your car and its workings. And just like a drug store has a cheaper alternative to a brand name prescription, so too do car parts have similar options to brand-specific items. So you don’t necessarily need to go to dealership for your servicing.
It’s always a good idea to get a few quotes from two or three mechanics for the same service or problem. This will give you an idea of price comparison when it comes to labor and parts costing. Search online for the same parts needed (Autozone or Advanced Car Parts for example) and compare those prices with those of the mechanic. As mechanics get the parts at a wholesale price, their markup should not exceed that of the retail price unless the part has to be ordered from the other side of the country and has a freight shipping cost attached (but this should be listed in the break down of the quote). Once you find a mechanic to try out, get to know him or her and let them know what car you have or are thinking of buying, what cars they love or own and love working on, and for any advice they may have for which car to buy. They are a valuable resource for buying tips, and I know of mechanics who come across customers who want to sell their car – a car that the mechanic knows from working on it, and can suggest if you let them know your budget. Word of mouth is invaluable when it comes to seeking out a bargain, just make sure you have done your due diligence on the car in question.