The engine light goes on. Although you might be tempted to ignore it, you know that will only lead to bigger – and more expensive – problems down the road. You need a mechanic, and there are plenty around. The hard part is finding one you can trust to do a good job at a fair price.
Here are some tips to help you locate a reputable mechanic.
Ask your friends.
Your friends have got your back. If they tell you about a mechanic who will treat you right, you have every reason to believe they’re being honest and have your best interest in mind.
Start with your friends who have cars. Ask them where they go to get work done and how satisfied they’ve been. If your friends don’t own cars or can’t recommend anyone, widen your net. Start asking acquaintances and co-workers. Have your friends ask around, too.
Check the reviews.
Reading online reviews is not as good as talking to your friends. Bad reviews could be from people who have personal grudges against the employees or even internet trolls. Good reviews could be from the mechanics themselves, or possibly their friends. This means that you should take reviews from strangers with a grain of salt.
Nevertheless, reading through a number of detailed reviews might give you an idea of what to expect. Before you trust your car to a mechanic, go online and see what others have said about the experience.
Check for Certification and Accreditation.
Another way to investigate a mechanic is to look at the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Using the BBB site, you can look for mechanics in your area. If the business has earned BBB Accreditation, that means it meets the BBB Code of Business Practices. The BBB also assigns ratings to some companies and lists the issues resulting in low ratings.
Also see what certifications the mechanic has.
Start with an oil change.
If your car is already breaking down, this won’t be an option. If your car is currently running well, though, consider taking it in for an oil change or another minor issue. This will give you a chance to get a feel for a new mechanic. That way, when your car does have major issues, you’ll already have a relationship with a mechanic you trust.
Get a price estimate in writing.
Before you leave your car in the mechanic’s hands, get a price estimate – in writing. Make sure the mechanic has your phone number and knows to call if there are any additional issues. If a new problem is discovered and it’s going to raise the price, you should approve the additional fixes and accompanying costs before any work is done.
If you have no idea how much a repair should cost, go online to compare prices for similar repairs on similar cars. If the cost the mechanic is quoting you is much higher, ask why, or go somewhere else.