How to Find a Good Shop and Save on Auto Repairs
If you’re a fairly handy person, you probably do simple car repairs yourself, such as changing oil or replacing headlight bulbs ect. However, for more complex jobs, such as replacing a radiator or alternator, you may need a repair shop – and it’s worth going through the trouble to find a good one.
It does take some time and effort to find a mechanic or shop you can trust, but will save you a significant amount of headache in the long run. If you rush your car to whichever garage is nearest when something breaks, you can’t be sure the mechanics there will know what to do with it. You could end up taking the bus to work for days on end while the shop tries to fix the problem – and possibly spending hundreds of dollars on “fixes” that you don’t need. A good mechanic will get the job done right the first time and charge you a fair price.
The time to look for a good shop is BEFORE your car breaks down. This gives you time to find a few local shops and check out their credentials, prices, and the quality of their work. That way, when something does go wrong with your car, you can feel confident you’re taking it to someone who knows how to handle it.
How to Find a Good Repair Shop
It’s easy to talk about how important it is to have a good shop, but it’s not always so easy finding one. You have to put in a bit of work to find shops in your area that are trustworthy.
There are some things, such as a shops credentials or costs, that you can check online or with a phone call. However, to get a real sense of how good they are at their job, you’ll need to really get hands-on. You have to see the shop, talk to the mechanic in person, and try them out with a simple job before you commit.
1. Search locally
The best shop for you has to be one you can get to easily. That means the first step to finding a good shop is to look for the ones that are close to your home or workplace. Here are a few ways to search:
Ask for Recommendations
Talk to businesses
Search Online Reviews
2. Check Qualifications
Qualifications aren't always the most important thing but here are some sites that can always be checked for great reputational information.
ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence)
AAA (The Automobile Association of America
BBB (The Better Business Bureau)
3. Interview the Shop
While you’re at the repair shop, go in and ask them a few questions about how they do business. If you can, try to talk to the mechanic in person, not just a receptionist. You might feel awkward asking to do this, but experts say it’s the best way to get a sense of what kind of work you can expect.
"Do You Have any Specialties?"
"Are Estimates Free?"
"Do You Guarantee Your Work?"
"What Are Your Rates?"
4. Start With a Small Job
Once you think you’ve found the right shop, it’s time to try them out. However, you probably don’t want to jump in at the deep end with a major repair like an engine rebuild. It’s better to start off with a small, simple job, such as an oil change or a routine inspection, before deciding whether to put your car in this person’s hands. Think of it like choosing a doctor, you’d rather get to know a new doctor during a basic checkup than major surgery.
After the first job, ask yourself a few questions:
Was the Work Done Properly?
Was the Price Fair?
Did They Seem Trustworthy?
Did the Shop Try and Upsell You on Tons of Maintenance?
If the answers to all these questions are positive, congratulations: You may have found your new repair shop. You can now entrust your car to this person for all kinds of repairs, big and small, and be confident the job will be done right.
Tell us, Who’s the best mechanic you’ve ever had? How did you find that person?