When you think of dependable professionals, you know you want to have a good doctor, a good (but hopefully not needed) lawyer, and a good dry cleaner, just to name a few. While it may not be at the top of your list of ‘Most Important Professionals’, you also want a Great mechanic servicing your car. Sure, it’s easy to take car maintenance for granted, and count on being able to get from here to there with no problems. That’s what a great mechanic does…makes you not notice him.
All of that being said, here are some tips to consider when shopping for your next great mechanic:
- Get a Referral. Okay, so finding a mechanic is not like finding a doctor – but then again, maybe it is. There’s no substitute for talking to your friends and extended family, to find out who keeps them happy when it comes time to service their car. A ‘review’ given with enthusiasm and pride is what you’re looking for, and you’ll know it when you see it and hear it.
- Neat and Clean. Okay, an auto repair shop can only be so clean, that is true. But is your prospective shop tidy and organized? Is the waiting room well kept? Do the employees – not just the mechanics, but the cashiers and other workers – seem on top of things and friendly? You can tell a lot by the little things. Don’t put yourself under the pressure of having to commit to a shop on your first visit, Feel free to take a reconnaissance swing through any shop you are considering, and make notes if you need to.
- Specialties. You might think you have found the most knowledgeable, friendly, honest mechanic in the world…but if he services 90% Fords and you’ve got a Toyota Forerunner, that should give you pause. The stakes rise in this regard with the type of vehicle you own; the more expensive and specialized your car, the more you’ll want to trust it to a mechanic who knows your make and model inside and out.
- Have Your Questions Ready. Communication is one of the most important aspects of the mechanic-client relationship. Have your questions ready – whether it’s about a maintenance issue, or a general question about the shop – and be sure you walk away with answers you feel good about; and more importantly, answers that you understand. If a potential mechanic can’t put his explanation into layman’s terms that you can follow, it’s another red flag.
- Cover All Your Bases. You’ll want to know Everything about the shop’s policies; that includes charges for service/labor, part rates; and, all importantly, the policy on guarantees.
- The Smaller the Better – at Least to Start. You don’t necessarily need to find a small repair shop, but it’s a good idea to start them with a small job. See how this new shop handles an oil change for you. Do they go over the results of the mechanic’s multi-point check with you? Do they mention key maintenance milestones coming up, given the make and mileage of your car? You should feel assured that this shop is going to be thorough in their care of your vehicle.
- Be a Good Partner in Your New Client-Mechanic Relationship. The best thing you can do to help your new mechanic is be vigilant with your maintenance. Hit all of your scheduled service at the time or mileage recommended. That way, you’ll be less likely to hear about an unexpected finding or complication from your new mechanic, which can throw doubt on the relationship before it even gets underway.