How to Find a Good Mechanic in 7 Easy Steps
Whether you’ve been in an accident or just need an oil change, knowing how to find a good mechanic will save you time and money. With the right tools, you can avoid the scams and get great service from a car repair shop. While there are numerous ways to start your search, we’ve compiled a list of the most important steps to find a mechanic you can trust.
1. Do an Online Search to Find Mechanics
Before you start calling around, begin your search by learning how to find a good mechanic online. Just as you might research your mattress online before buying it, make use of your internet connection as you search for a good mechanic.
Start by looking for a mechanic in your area. You don’t want to have to drive two hours each way every time you need an oil change, so finding a repair shop near you will save you time and money. You can also do a deeper search to find out who services the big companies and fleets nearby. These include taxis, delivery vehicles, and company cars. Since they all rely on their vehicles so heavily, you can be sure they’ll have a trustworthy mechanic (or two) to recommend.
2. Seek Out Mechanic Reviews and Recommendations
Once you have a list of mechanics in your area you might still be wondering how to find a good mechanic. This is where your network comes in. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers where they take their cars for service. Ask them what they like and dislike about their mechanic and be sure to get recommendations of both the repair shops you should try and those you should avoid.
Then head back to the internet to find online reviews of different mechanics in your area. Websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau are insightful resources that offer online reviews from other customers. Be sure to actually read the reviews to find out why someone is or is not recommending a business. This will ensure that their values and priorities align with yours. When you’re looking for a good mechanic specifically, visit CarTalk’s Mechanic Files and AAA Auto Repair Network. These websites are specially designed for vehicle-related searches so you can find detailed reviews of multiple mechanics and car repair shops in one place.
CarTalk is similar to Yelp in that it has reviews from customers, and the AAA Auto Repair Network is a prescreening service for drivers who want to know how to find a good mechanic. They have numerous requirements and standards to vet car repair shops and mechanics across the country. So, if a mechanic is AAA recommended, you can trust that their business is reliable.
3. Look for Certified Mechanics
While customer reviews and recommendations are helpful, you'll also want to find a mechanic who is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This certification will help you narrow down your search and find the very best mechanic. Obtaining an ASE certification involves years of on-the-job training and a two-year degree in automotive repair, so you can rest assured their mechanics are well trained and highly skilled.
If you want to find the best mechanic, check to make sure the shop itself is licensed. Some states require this licensing but even if your state doesn’t, it’s a good way to narrow down your options.
4. Call to Interview Your Mechanic
By now you should have a shortlist of some of the best mechanics near you. It’s time to reach out and start interacting with them. Call the mechanics you have left on your list and ask them a few questions. You’ll want to cover all your bases here, so be thorough with your interview and be sure to ask the following:
Do you provide warranties on your work?
How many years of experience do you have?
Do you offer price guarantees?
Will you provide a loaner car or shuttle service?
What is your payment policy?
It might be tempting to try and answer these questions online, but you want to ask the mechanic face to face, or at least over the phone. What if you have questions about your car after they’ve worked on it? You want to feel comfortable talking to your mechanic and want to ensure that you’re working with someone who’s open to your questions.
5. Build Your Relationship Before an Accident
If possible, take your car to the mechanic before you need urgent repairs. Something routine such as an oil change or inspection will let you meet the mechanic, get a feel for their character, and test out their work. This also takes some pressure off when you’re looking for a good mechanic since their work will not need to be so urgent or involved.
6. Research Price Estimates Online
A little knowledge never hurt and with car maintenance, it can be especially beneficial. Before you discuss prices with the mechanic you find, make sure you have a ballpark estimate of what they should charge you for different services.
You can use an estimator tool like RepairPal or Napa Autocare’s Repair Estimator Guide to figure a ballpark estimate. You can then call around to compare prices between the mechanics left on your shortlist. When you do get your car serviced, make sure your mechanic gives you their quoted price in writing, and take it with you when you arrive to pay for their services. You don’t want to pick your car up and be landed with an extra large bill.
7. Ask for a Timeline
Once you find a good mechanic and drop your car off for service, be sure to ask for a timeline for pickup before you leave. This will save you some anxiety while you wait for your car to be repaired. Having an idea of a timeline will also give you the freedom to plan ahead. Need to pick someone up from the airport? If you know when your car will be ready, you can take the guesswork out, and plan to pick up your friend or hire a car service, for example.
That said, be patient. Parts can be delivered late, weather can be unpredictable, and business can be inconsistent. It might be frustrating, but try to give your mechanic a day or two leeway when they estimate your pickup date. After seeking out the best mechanic, you can trust that they will do their best work while also respecting your busy schedule. After all, that’s why you went to such lengths to find them.
Looking for a mechanic can be frustrating, so understanding how to find a good mechanic will put your mind at ease when you book their services. Follow these steps and you’ll find the best mechanic near you to fix your car and protect your wallet.