How to Identify a Trustworthy Mechanic

March 11th, 2016 by

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If your car sounds like it’s going to die at any moment, it’s probably about time that you visit a local mechanic or dealership. Depending on where you live, there may be a number of businesses to choose from. While you may prioritize several factors when choosing a mechanic, one factor stands above all else: their honesty.

If you’re generally ignorant when it comes to vehicles and their mechanics, you may not recognize when one of these mechanics is trying to take advantage of the situation. You want a technician who will be honest and upfront, and this trust will go a long way as the two sides develop a working relationship.

So how do you establish whether these mechanics or dealerships are trustworthy? There are several effective ways to find a reliable repairman, and there are also several warning signs that should indicate that you should stay away. We’ve outlined these focal points below, so when it’s time for you to find auto repair in Albany, New York, you’ll know exactly what you should be looking for (and avoiding)…

Ask Around

This is a generally easy way to find a trusted mechanic or car repair business. If a friend or co-worker refers you to a particular repair shop, there’s a good chance they were satisfied with their service. There isn’t much of an incentive for these previous customers to talk up these businesses, so there’s a good chance they’re being sincere with their recommendations.

Following this logic, it isn’t even necessary for you to hit up family or friends for these referrals. A simple Facebook post should generate plenty of suggestions, although you’ll want to take the time to double-check these reference with a website like Yelp. If these customer-based reviews generally paint a positive picture, you should be good to go.

Of course, you should be considering negative reviews the same way. If a previous customer warns you to avoid a particular mechanic or business, you should probably steer clear.

Prioritize What You Value in a Mechanic

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This is a relatively creative idea suggested by Trent Hamm of TheSimpleDollar.com, and it could come in handy if you’re having difficulties choosing between multiple mechanics. There are several factors that are generally prioritized as car owners seek a repair man:

  • Hours: This is rather straight forward. The business’s hours of operation are important to know, as you may have limited options based on your work schedule. Some mechanics will let you drop off a vehicle before or after business hours, so a simple inquiry should provide some clarity.
  • ASE Certification: The Automotive Service Excellence group hands out certificates to those business owners who have studied the makings of a good mechanic. These certified technicians are generally the most trustworthy and knowledgeable mechanics in the industry, and they can certainly be trusted.
  • BBB: The Better Business Bureau will alert you if a business has received negative or unflattering reviews. You’ll have to pursue this information yourself, but it could prove to be essential if you’re still unsure of where to go.

Get Estimates

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We’re all influenced by finances, right? When it comes down to it, many car owners are going to opt for the mechanic who offers the best deal. Of course, they’ll be incapable of choosing the best option if they haven’t shopped around for multiple estimates.

You’ll save yourself some time and effort by initially following the previous steps, thus removing any of the unfavorable dealerships or mechanics. However, with the names remaining on your list, you’ll want to find the best possible deal out there. Most experts suggest getting at least three estimates, and you can even use these values to make the deal a bit more beneficial.

Hamm notes that he’s particularly swayed by low prices on car parts, guarantees, and a “willingness” from the staff to explain what each charge is going towards. Hourly rates are also particularly important, especially if they account for the majority of your bill. These charges are very easy to fudge, so make sure there’s some mutual understanding of the final charge before making the transaction.

Be Skeptical

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Now, we’re certainly not saying that every mechanic is untrustworthy, and we’re not suggesting that you should be interrogating the staff of every dealership or repair shop you walk into. However, you need to look out for your (and your wallet’s) well-being. To protect yourself, you can keep your eyes on any inconsistencies or discrepancies during the transaction.

For instance, if the mechanic notes that a part needs to be replaced, you should ask to see the faulty part. A huge warning sign will be if the mechanic refuses to show you any details, an indication that they’re being untruthful or leading you on. If they’ve convinced you that the replacement is necessary, inquire about the availability of after-market parts, as they’re considerably less expensive than the brand-specific alternatives.

You should also receive a proper explanation for each repair that will be done on your car. If their response is vague (or nonexistent), you’ll probably want to get a second reference. These mechanics are not allowed to do any repairs without your consent, which still places you in a position of power.

“Asking the right question is key,” Ray Evernham, a former garage owner (and current NASCAR crew chief) told Consumer Reports. “You want a written estimate and an explanation. Sometimes just asking these questions keeps a shop from taking advantage of you.”

The best way to avoid these types of issues is by being knowledgeable about the workings of your particular vehicle. If your car has to be serviced, you can avoid any unnecessary repairs by understanding the essentials for that particular repair. Otherwise, a mechanic may try to capitalize on your ignorance by convincing you that a particular repair or replacement is necessary.

Rely on Your Instinct

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Is your gut indicating that a particular business should be avoided? There may be several warning signs that prove that you shouldn’t be pursuing repairs from a particular mechanic or dealership. For instance, the garage should be relatively clean, and this will be indicative of whether the mechanic or owner is proud of their business. These mechanics should also show some general knowledge on your particular vehicle and the necessary repairs.

Meanwhile, if the mechanic doesn’t sound very knowledgeable, you should be looking elsewhere. The business owner also shouldn’t be pressuring you into any particular repairs. While this is generally not a very good business practice, it may also indicate that this mechanic is desperate for business. Don’t be sucked into their trap.

 

Generally, dealerships are your best bet for a reliable and trustworthy mechanic. These technicians have been specifically trained to repair specific vehicles, and their up-front, pre-established prices mean you’ll never be thrown for a loop financially.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where a private mechanic is your only option, you’ll want to follow our guide above. Whether the mechanic is outlining the reasoning for each specific repair or displaying a general lack of knowledge, you should get a better understanding of whether they should be trusted or not. This way, you’ll be able to protect your vehicle and your wallet.