If you own or lease a car, there is a good chance that you have used the services of a mechanic at some point. Whether your check engine light suddenly lit up, or you needed a routine oil change, a mechanic was there to help out and keep your car running. But what about when you go into the automotive shop for one fix, and come out with a bill for five other fixes that your mechanic insisted were crucial?
If this has ever happened to you, it can be frustrating and difficult to determine if the additional fixes are really necessary, or if your mechanic is just trying to upsell you. Most car owners end up paying for these extra fixes out of fear that something will happen to their vehicle. While there are many knowledgeable and professional mechanics out there, there are also those who won’t think twice about ripping you off. An honest mechanic is a person that you want on your side, as they can help save you money, time, and lots of headaches. Below are some tips on how to tell if your mechanic is honestly trying to help, or if they are just looking for some extra cash.
- Know Your Car
For most people, when their mechanic tells them that something is worn or broken on their vehicle, they often have no idea what the mechanic is talking about. Because the mechanic is the expert, you just nod along and trust their judgement, right? Wrong – the first tip in making sure you find a trustworthy mechanic is knowing your car’s anatomy. Do some internet research or get yourself a beginner’s book on how your vehicle works. This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert on cars and their systems, but know the basic elements of how your car operates and what makes it unique. Once you know about your car, you should be able to spot some upselling tactics more easily.
- Do Some Research
Knowing how your car operates is a great first step, but next you will want to do some research on the repairs that your mechanic is suggesting. How long should it take, how much should it cost, and what kind of prices may be too good to be true? Take a look on Google to find out what others have paid for similar repairs – you’ll want to find the most expensive and least expensive prices so that you can look for something in the middle for your own repair. Once you have that number, you can begin to call around to different shops and ask them for an estimate.
- Ask Around
One of the best ways to find a trusted professional is to ask your friends, family, neighbours and acquaintances for their first hand experiences and recommendations. Real reviews from people that you trust are valuable, and they often lead to success when searching out any new service. After asking around your personal network, take a look at online reviews such as Yelp and Google reviews to help inform your opinion even more. Remember to always take online reviews with a grain of salt – a good rule of thumb is to disregard the best and worst review, and read into what those somewhere in the middle are saying.
- Look for Certifications
Once you have found a few potential mechanics, there are a few questions that you can ask them to be sure that they are honest and professional. Don’t be afraid to ask if the facility and technicians have any certifications, and what kind of warranties they provide. While certifications certainly aren’t everything, it is a great indicator that the business takes training and professionalism seriously.
- Find a Specialty Shop
There are pros and cons to taking your car to a dealership or a general automotive shop to be serviced related to pricing, location, and knowledge of the mechanics. A great way to balance out those pros and cons is to take your car to an independent shop that specializes in your car’s make and/or model. You will have to judge whether or not this is right for you based on the location and pricing of the speciality shop, but they are generally less expensive than dealerships and still have the specialized skills to perform work on your vehicle.
- Start Small
If you have found a mechanic that you would like to do business with, it is best to start with a smaller routine job such as an oil change or inspection. You will want to build up a relationship with your automotive shop through smaller interactions rather than try and find someone when you have a larger issue with your vehicle, as this can help you determine if you are satisfied with the price and level of service provided before you are desperate for help.
- Take Note of How the Shop Looks
Cleanliness matters, even in an auto shop. When you arrive at the shop, take note of what you see. Is the shop and garage clean and organized? Is it well lit? When you get your car back, are there smudges on your door handles or steering wheel? While you should expect some dirt and grime at an automotive shop, keep in mind that they should know how to present themselves to customers and keep things clean and tidy.
- Talk Directly with the Mechanic
After your car has been serviced, talk to the mechanic if you can. Having a conversation with the person who worked on your car helps you gauge how knowledgeable and confident they are, and this can also help you build a trusted relationship with that mechanic. You may think that the staff member at reception has told you all that you need to know, but keep in mind that they are often relaying to you exactly what the mechanic has told them. It is best to speak to the mechanic directly to get the best sense of comfort on your first few visits.
Going to an auto shop doesn’t have to be stressful and expensive. Do your research and trust your gut, and you will find a trusted mechanic in no time!
Ready to meet a mechanic that you can trust? Contact us today and see for yourself why our clients keep coming back again and again.