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Car Repair Shouldn’t be Intimidating

“Never trust a mechanic who drives new cars. They're either charging too much money for their work, or they can't keep an old car running — maybe both.” —Patricia Briggs, author

Okay, maybe that approach is a bit simplistic when your car breaks down and you need to choose a mechanic. But for many people, taking their car to the shop is an intimidating experience. They aren’t car-repair experts, after all, and they want to be sure they can trust they’re getting a fair deal.

(We should note that we’re talking about everyday repair situations here, not repairs resulting from an insurance claim. For claims-related repairs, we can help you find a shop in our Guaranteed Repair Network™ — but you always are free to choose your own.)

Below are questions from Consumer Reports, car blogs and other experts — some are for you, while others are questions any mechanic should be happy to answer in order to educate you and put your mind at ease. If you don’t like the responses, take your car elsewhere.

Questions for the Mechanic

  • My car is doing (X). What do you think it could be? First things first: Don’t be afraid to call the shop and ask about anything! When a dashboard indicator lights up, the car starts making a strange noise or it feels like it’s driving differently, a lot of people clam up because they don’t want to sound stupid. That can end up costing you money in the long run, because whatever problem you have could get worse if you wait.
  • Are you certified? Experts say any mechanic you choose should be ASE-certified. (That’s an abbreviation for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.)
  • Is your work guaranteed? Get specifics and compare between shops for the same type of repair. And always find out before you have any work done.
  • Do you specialize in specific makes or models? A shop focused on Japanese cars might not be best for you if your car is European.
  • Can you prioritize these repairs? What needs to be fixed now? Getting a long list of what’s wrong with your car can be daunting — and expensive. So ask if certain repairs can wait.
  • What would you do in my shoes? A trustworthy mechanic can provide guidance beyond simply fixing your car. For example, if you have an old car, they should be able to help you determine whether a particular repair is worth the cost.

Questions for You

  • How does the shop look? According to car blog Jalopnik, you should look for shops that are clean and well-lit — and that have different cars rotating through the lot. That last part is important, because if you’re seeing the same cars again and again, or cars that never move, it could be an indication of slow or shoddy work.
  • What do other people say about their experience? Ask friends and family for recommendations. Check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau. You can even ask the shop for references.
  • Do you feel comfortable? A mechanic shouldn’t pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable just because you’re not an automotive expert. They should work with you so you understand the process and what your car needs. If you don’t feel good about working with them, don’t.

Finding a mechanic you can trust isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. It feels great to know your car is in good hands — and it feels even better to know that the person fixing it isn’t taking advantage of you.

Posted by Safeco February 28, 2017


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Taylor Bishop said...
Thanks for going over some questions to ask when getting a mechanic. Im glad that you mentioned that you should ask if they specialize in some models or specific makes. I can definitely see the benefits of this, especially if you have a unique car. Im a bit interested to learn about some of the different specialties a mechanic could have. Maybe that information could be good to know when looking for a mechanic. http://www.malvernautorepairs.com.au/about-us
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 03 2017 12:21 PM
Jocelyn McDonald said...
My car has recently had some trouble starting in the morning, and Im planning on taking it to a mechanic soon. Your article on choosing the best car mechanic was very helpful and just what I needed, and I especially like your tip to choose a mechanic with ASE certification. This way they have been trained to deal with a larger variety of issues, and Ill be sure to take this advice into account when hiring a car mechanic. http://www.dawesautomotiveservice.com.au/
FRIDAY, MAY 18 2018 7:21 AM
Derek Dewitt said...
My wife and I are looking for a new auto repair shop in town ever since moving, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about asking the mechanic if they guarantee their work. This sounds like a good way to compare prices between shops and choose the best deal. https://frenchcarcare.com.au/recycled-parts
TUESDAY, MAY 29 2018 9:16 AM
Duncan Lance said...
I really like that one of the questions the article asks is about whether or not the work is guaranteed. After all, when you are looking for a mechanic you want to make sure that youre getting good repairs. By getting a guarantee you are basically having the mechanic promise that they will be doing their best work possible to fix up your car or theyll do it again for free. http://www.cimmotorsports.net/
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30 2018 5:31 PM
Jocelyn McDonald said...
My husband borrowed my car recently and told me the breaks are sticking, so were looking for a reliable mechanic to help us with this issue. Your article had some great tips for choosing a good mechanic, and I especially liked your point to choose a mechanic that specializes in the specific make and model of your car. Thanks for the helpful post, well be sure to keep this advice in mind when choosing the car mechanic best for us. http://www.tyreandwheel.com.au/mechanical
THURSDAY, MAY 31 2018 7:48 AM

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