How to Pick a Great Auto Mechanic

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Taking your car to the shop isn’t on anyone’s list of favorite activities. But with a little bit of sleuthing and by asking the right questions, you can pick an auto mechanic you trust, making for a much better experience. Follow this guide to finding an auto shop that’s reputable, professional and skilled at handling your vehicle.

Do Some Crowdsourcing

Word of mouth is often a great source for finding any reputable service. Today, the Internet makes finding company reviews fast and easy. Online tools like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google allow you to read about other people’s experiences with a particular mechanic or shop in your area.

Just remember that not all online reviews are indicative of a shop’s overall service. Often, real word of mouth—the kind that comes from friends or family—is the most valuable. Ask around at home or work if anyone knows a good shop.

Look for Your Car’s Specialist

Just like a podiatrist is a physician specialized to treat foot-related maladies, some auto shops and mechanics specialize in certain vehicle makes and models. Auto manufacturers offer certifications to these mechanics who are trained to work on specific car models.

Choosing a specialist means that the shop is more likely to have the most up-to-date knowledge and expertise for working on your vehicle. They may also have special parts ready at the shop, which could save you the time and money that special ordering and shipping would take.

Check for Certification

Be sure you use a mechanic who’s certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This is a non-profit organization that has been certifying automotive professionals for more than 50 years.

An ASE certification means that your mechanic has passed rigorous training and has had at least two years of relevant automotive work experience. The ASE “Blue Seal” is a badge of a trained professional.

Ask About Guaranteed Work

Before you hand over the keys, what guarantees can the shop offer for its parts and services? A shop that stands behind its work should work with you to resolve any issues that aren’t fixed correctly the first time or replace new parts that are no good. Ask for the details—most guarantees and warranties last for a fixed time, mileage, or both.

Shop Around

Don’t be afraid to ask for quotes from several different shops you feel good about. Sometimes you can get a much better price for the same part or repair service just by driving down the road. Ask about discounts or special offers. Search online for coupons.

If you have the chance, you may want to first try out the shop for smaller repairs or services, like oil changes or routine maintenance. If you have a good experience, you’ll probably trust them the next time your car needs a more serious repair. Do whatever you can to make sure you get the best price for the best services.