Updated on 09.16.14

Finding an Auto Mechanic That You Trust

Trent Hamm

Hands Mechanic by Kerri 2008 on Flickr!Over the last few months, I’ve been documenting in depth the various mechanical problems that my truck has been facing and how it’s affecting our decisions with future car purchases. In short, my truck has had four significant breakdowns in the past three months, adding up to a bill totaling about $3,000.

When you’re spending that kind of money, it pays a lot to have an auto mechanic that you trust. Obviously, every mechanic is out there trying to earn a living through their work – you’re going to pay for labor and for parts, too. What really sets the trustworthy mechanics apart are the ones that quote you reasonable and fair prices, work on your vehicle in an ethical and fair manner (meaning they fix what they say they’re going to fix), and are careful about preventative measures to ensure you don’t run into additional problems down the road.

But how do you find a mechanic like that, particularly if you’re new in an area? It’s not a particularly easy task, and it’s one that I spent years sweating over before finding one that I trusted. Here are some of the tactics that I used to discover a great mechanic in my area – and a longer list of tips here.

Tips to Find A Great Auto Mechanic

1. Hit your social network for suggestions – and for places to avoid

This is one of the areas where one’s personal network can really come through. Reach out to as many people as you can in your area and ask for mechanic recommendations – both positive and negative.

What I usually look for is multiple positive recommendations for a place without any negatives. When I hear that, I can usually be at least somewhat confident that the place has built a positive reputation over time – which means that their work quality has at least some merit.

2. Figure out what criteria are important to you – and use those as a checklist before you even go in the door

Remember, not everyone will have the same needs from an auto repair shop. For example, if you have an extremely flexible schedule (as I do), the actual shop hours aren’t that big of a deal. Similarly, if you are already pretty familiar with the inner workings of a car and mostly just don’t have the equipment or the time to replace a flywheel (for example), you don’t need a mechanic that can effectively explain the repairs needed.

Here are some things that you should consider looking for in an auto repair place. If some of these seem unimportant to you, don’t use them as criteria.

+ Hours of operation

Is the shop open when I need it to be to pick up my car? Does it open early enough in the morning, close late enough at night, or have weekend hours?

+ AAA accreditation

This is useful to know in general, but is of particular importance if you happen to be an AAA member.

+ ASE certification

ASE certification is mostly just a guarantee that the mechanics in the shop have been exposed to the ASE training material. It is never a guarantee that a mechanic is a good mechanic, although most mechanics worth their salt tend to have them simply because it’s easy for a good one to get as they already know their stuff, like passing a test that you’ve been studying for for a while already.

+ Good online reports (Angie’s List, etc.)

Are the reports about the shop online largely positive? Ignore a negative outlier or two – there are a lot of people who post negative reports online in order to discredit competition or because they have their own personal axe to grind.

+ Clean Better Business Bureau bill of health

The BBB is itself a mixed bag, but if there are a lot of outstanding claims against a business, it’s usually a sign that there’s something amiss. Give your local branch a ring before jumping in with a mechanic.

3. When you have a minor repair, get a lot of estimates

Once you’ve filtered out most of the also-rans, you can get down to the real business of finding a solid mechanic for you. The best time to do this is with an upcoming repair job – one where you can still safely drive your vehicle for the time being but the issue is severe enough that you need to get work done soon. You have some time to get several estimates, but the job is actually an important one.

Don’t just settle with the estimate from the first place that you go. Always get at least three estimates in as much detail as possible, preferably from the three best places from your previous search for a good mechanic. Ask questions about the estimates and also about the actual service you would receive.

Some key things to compare include part prices, work guarantees, and the willingness of the staff to explain to you what your estimate means and answer the questions you have.

Using these techniques helped me find a good mechanic in my local area, and I’ve stuck with him for a while. He’s identified two of the big problems I’ve had lately in advance (and is actually encouraging me to replace the vehicle, as he says that there will be a steady stream of repair bills over the next year or so, even though keeping my current vehicle would make him more money), has very solid rates, and gave me his own car as a loaner one day when I had other issues to deal with.

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  1. Allison says:

    First time my car broke down as an adult, my mother told me to go to the bar across the street and ask about the mechanics in town. This was in a small town up north and it was a very locals only type place. I found the best mechanic ever at a bar with bras stapled to the wall. :)

  2. Martin says:

    Unfortunately, there’s far too many mechanics that’ll unnecessarily try to replace components that are still in fine working order…and with many people not having a good understanding of car mechanics, they believe what the mechanic tells them.
    It’s definitely worthwhile finding a mechanic that you can trust – one who won’t try to separate you from more dollars than he needs to.

  3. Kelly says:

    Facing a similar situation living in a new town and needing repair work I decided to ask the service departments at my car dealerships to tell me their customer service scores. All major car dealerships get rated on their customer service in the service department and sales dept. My car needed warranty repairs, so I choose I local dealership who had a score of 97%. You know if you have to be put on hold too long and the person on the phone “doesn’t know” their recent score that you need to go somewhere else! For non-warranty repairs (aka you have to pay for it), Trent is absolutely right, you should always call at least three shops to compare prices and services, look for online customer comments like Angie’s list, and ask anyone you know for recommendations! Sometimes if you have roadside assistance with your car insurance company, your insurance company might make a recommendation, too.

  4. Jen says:

    My husband is a dealer mechanic, and lets just say you “get what you pay for” if you are out looking for a deal, you probably won’t get the quality of work to get the job done right. Most mechanics are paid flat rate, meaning the faster they can get the work done, the more they get paid, meaning rush rush rush and not take care of your car properly. who is going to care more about your vehicle? the guy at wally world making $10/hr rushing through brake jobs or the guy that gets paid $20-$30 an hour so he can actually take more time to absorb the problems you are having. It’s very rare to find a high quality mechanic anymore unless they have been in the business a long time and truly love what they do and the cars they work on. The ASE certification is a good tip, as they have to retake those tests every few years to stay certified and they have to pay for the tests themselves. my husband gets most of his clients from word of mouth so asking your friends and family is definitely good advice. another thing is he attends a lot of defensive driving and race track courses for street cars as a technician for FUN. (yea strange) but that definitely shows dedication and love for working on cars.

  5. I have a mechanic I trust and he gives me great deals. I defiantely think he has the hots for my fiances mum though…they should date

  6. Steve the IT Guy says:

    There are several books the should be required reading on this subject. Unfortunately I don’t have them at hand so have to guess at the titles. One I think is “What Your Mechanic Doesn’t Want You To Know”. In fact that’s the only one I remember right now (read them a long time ago). As I recall a key point of the book was that you have to be careful who’s recommendations you follow. Many folks will happily recommend a mechanic who has treated them well personally, but still fleeced them by exploiting their lack of automotive knowledge. Let the buyer beware!

  7. SP says:

    If you live in a bigger city, try out yelp.com. I found my guy there. He had a ton of positive reviews and everyone said he was fair. I brought my car in, he identified the problem and referred me to another place, for free. The place he referred me to only charged me $20 to fix it (something very minor).

  8. K says:

    You can also find great mechanics through cartalk.com. Type in your zipcode and a list of trusted mechanics with reviews comes up. After moving to a new area, I found one on here that was close to work and started going there and found that they were really good. Then after meeting some people in the area, found that they go there too. So the social network is also a good way but in a new town cartalk is like an online social network that works before you meet a lot of people.

  9. John says:

    This is precisely why my wife and I bought Kias. We have 10yr/100K mile bumper-bumper warranties on both vehicles.

    We had an experience with our family mechanic. He was a friend and a really good guy. He was competent, fairly priced, and good at explaining things.

    One night he’d had a glass of wine, he was driving our car (we’d left it with him to get some work done), and he ran from the cops. We were barely spared impoundment of the vehicle.

    Even the best mechanics are still people. They’re fallible. They make mistakes. In this case, we loved the person/mechanic, just not the situation.

    Awesome mechanics often run their own garages. Just be careful of the one-man-shop. You never know what might happen.

  10. David says:

    Trent: I realize that not all of your readers live in Greater Des Moines (I’m in Iowa City), but I think you owe your mechanic a “shout-out.” You talk about positive word-of-mouth and referrals–you have an opportunity and a platform to give him exactly that. About the only downside I can see to such an act would be that he gets so overwhelmed from the flood of new business that he isn’t available to work on your car. ;)

  11. Cory says:

    I accidentally found a good mechanic. My car started to act up, behaving exactly like my prior car had when it’s timing belt slipped. It cost me over $600 to have fixed. I had never needed a mechanic in this town so I asked around.

    When I took it to the place that most people had recommended, I told him what was happening and what I thought was wrong based on my previous car’s problems. I left and started trying to figure out where I was going to get $500+ while waiting for the estimate.

    An hour later I got a call from the garage owner saying he checked it out and it was only old spark plug wires. He said he just went ahead and replaced the wires since he had the car in and the total was $20.

    Knowing he could have fleeced me for $500+, he was honest, diagnosed the problem himself and made the simple fix worth only $20. I’ve taken all of my vehicles there for the past 15 years. Since then there has been at least one other time when the actual repair was far more minor and cost far less than I expected.

    Bottom line, though, is that the more you know about how something works, the harder it is for someone to pull the wool over your eyes.

  12. Debbie M says:

    I agree that “not everyone will have the same needs from an auto repair shop,” or at least not the same priorities. What I most want is good work done with high-quality parts so that the repairs will be long-lasting and a good price. What I care much less about is that things are done quickly, that I have the prettiest parts available, or that I have parts made by the same company that made my car.

    I’m pretty sure that my last mechanic, who is now retired, would charge more for people who wanted faster service, and prioritize them, and charge me less but get around to me when he had the time. This was perfect for me.

  13. Lisa says:

    If you find a good mechanic, it pays to tip them. For one, they earned it. Second, they’ll make time for the tippers. This has saved me money (in them not recommending work that their boss pushes them to recommend) and time (they always fit me in). Developing a relationship with a good mechanic is priceless.

  14. Kevin says:

    Good tips in the comments, thanks people.

    Trent it sounds like you found a good one. I’ve been lucky to not have needed a mechanic other than the usual oil change, tires, etc. which are pretty easy to determine if you’re getting screwed or not.

  15. Lianna says:

    The Car Talk website (you know, the long running and very funny car show on NPR) has a section for reviewing local mechanics. I found a mechanic that I’m extremely happy with by entering my zip code on the main page (cartalk-dot-com) and reading reviews of local shops.

  16. louise says:

    It’s helpful to understand how shops work. The technician is only part of the equation; the service writer is a MAJOR part as well as the service writer is the one you’re actually negotiating with… and who often has no idea what they’re selling.

    The tech gets paid by the job — and that’s the ONLY way the tech usually gets paid. Most shops don’t have an hourly rate at all for techs, meaning that if a tech only has an oil change scheduled for the day, then the tech only gets about an hour of pay that day and that’s it.

    For warranty work, how many hours the job pays is set by the manufacturer, and for customer-pay work, the rate is based on the book value (if it exists — for exotic brands and older cars, there may be no book value). As far as warranty work goes, the mechanic has little-to-no input on what to charge the customer — and usually gets screwed on those jobs (not paid enough time for the work done, so they work 2 hours and get paid for 1.5).

    BTW, if you’re getting warranty work done, manufacturer training is FAR more important than ASE certification. Many manufacturers (even or maybe especially high-end brands) don’t care at all whether the techs are ASE certified; they care whether the dealership has sent the techs to brand-specific training.

    Most mechanics are not trying to screw the customer; they’re just trying to scratch out a living. The shop rate may be $100/hour, but the tech isn’t making anywhere close to that. Back in the day, the tech’s rate used to be a percentage of the shop rate — like 50% — and then the percentage kept getting knocked down and then shop owners stopped talking about percentages altogether.

    Also, those customer service scores are kind of BS. The shops only get credit for excellent scores — very good scores don’t count. Plus, people are more likely to complete surveys like that when they’re upset — when an experience was good, they usually don’t bother.

    I’d listen to word-of-mouth with a grain of salt. Your friend may have had an awful experience with a dealership, but you don’t know the details — the friend could have never checked the oil in the car and ruined the engine, but then expected the dealership to replace the engine under warranty.

  17. Brandon says:

    It depends on the type of car you drive, but a lot of car communities have information on mechanics and other problems. For you VW/Audi drivers out there http://www.passatworld.com and http://www.vwvortex.com are chock full of information on minor how to’s as well as major walkthroughs.

    I know that Honda’s (like they ever break down!), and BMW have similar communities out there. Not sure about Ford Escorts and Chevy Cavaliers though….

  18. kz says:

    Some of my friends and coworkers think it’s crazy, but I drive two hours for my mechanic. It used to be that my father could do most anything that needed fixing on our cars, but when he became ill in March and subsequently passed away, we had to find someone else. My brother-in-law recommended a guy who used to work at a dealership but had been downsized. In order to make ends meet for his family, he started fixing cars out of his own garage. He’s often done work for us over the weekend, since we’re from out of town; he’s come and towed our car from an hour away when we broke down halfway home (and for only $50!); he takes the time to explain what’s going on and whether the recommendations you get from other mechanics are worth it; he charges us exactly what he’s charged for the parts (we’ve double-checked); AND he charges less than half of the hourly rate for labor as any place I’ve ever been.

    The last time we had repairs done on my car, I’d gotten two quotes from our area that were between $900 and $1,000. He did all those repairs, plus a few extras that hadn’t been emergencies and not part of the other estimates, and we paid him $550. So when my friends and coworkers tell me I’m crazy to spend $50 on a tank of gas to get there and back, I just smile. Not only do I end up saving hundreds of dollars, even when you count the gas, but I also get to visit with family while I wait for my car! I recommend him to anyone I know who is in his area, or who I think might drive to him.

  19. michael says:

    When family from across the country tell me they need a good mechanic for their cars, I inquire on various motorcycle discussion boards. Motorcycle riders generally also drive cars and are mechanically knowledgeable, and will only trust their autos to really, really good mechanics.

  20. Sandy says:

    I have noticed that few mechanics always break few things which are working quite well (which you do not notice when you pick-up your car from the mechanic) and for which you need to go back to him again for fixing.

    Very lame and un-ethical behavior (:

  21. gr8whyte says:

    Used to drive 30 miles to get my car serviced by a really great mechanic but alas, no longer as he retired in the EU. It’s hard to find a good one.

  22. Stephen says:

    I have a friend who’s so insane about maintenance, he won’t trust anything to a mechanic. All his tools are in Eastern Virginia, but he lives in Ohio. He’ll make the 9+ hour drive just for an oil change and an alignment rather than trust somebody else. A bit extreme, of course.

    But with his lack of trust for mechanics there’s a grain of truth about the industry. Basically if you don’t know what you need, or how things under the hood work, many mechanics will try to take your wallet for a ride.

  23. Kristina says:

    I liked my mechanic so much, I married him :)

    In comment #10, Lisa makes the recommendation that you give a good mechanic a tip. That’s really good advice.

    Mechanics in places like Sears get paid an hourly wage but thier paychecks are not based on the actual number of hours they work. Car manufacturers provide a reference book stating the number of hours each repair should take. For example, Ford may say that a tune-up for a Focus should take an hour while a Mustang may take two hours. (I’m just pulling numbers and hours out of the air. I have no idea what the number of hours for these two cars really are.)

    If the mechanic working on the Ford Focus takes two hours, he works the extra hour for free. So, your tip may mean that a mechanic takes more time with your car to make sure the job is done right.

  24. Leisureguy says:

    Maybe if the mechanic is a person instead of a thing, you’ll find a mechanic whom you can trust (instead of “that” you can trust).

  25. KC says:

    When I moved to the city I live in I looked in the yellow pages for an import/Nissan specialist. Turned out this guy was great. But the reason I knew he was great was because all the single women I worked with (I’m a librarian) took their imports to him too. So if you can find someone a lot of intelligent, thrifty women (librarians) trust then you may have yourself a good mechanic.

    I trust this guy so much that we make all of our car purchases based on what he will repair.

  26. David S says:

    Ditto for the cartalk.com website. Also, if you’d like to learn more about car repairs and be entertained at the same time, check out their weekly radio show on NPR stations. I’ve made their show a part of my Saturady morning ritual, and have always picked up useful information, along with a few laughs.

  27. Sharon says:

    My Dad taught me to always look for a stand-alone shop, never go to a chain. However, if you find a great stand-alone shop and the owner builds a fancy new facility, the prices go up because they have a new mortgage and you need to be wary.

  28. tom says:

    Check Angie’s List… Ratings from people like you and me. I found a mechanic on there that did a great job with my truck.

  29. Brucem says:

    A couple of other things –
    1) No matter what, continue to be an active and engaged customer. Ask for the broken parts back, and then for them to point out what the problem is. Ask questions.
    2) Understand that, like many professions, their effectiveness will change over time. I’ve noticed that mechs are most effective in the first two years that you go to them…then either they grow complacent in their running of the shop or their treatment of you. If you go to a small shop where the owner is wrenching, he will usually want to move into the office…and that changes him and the shop in many ways. Same if there is a senior mechanic — he may want to strike out on his own.
    3) Don’t worry about taking different brands to the same mechanic. Most of them have worked on most brands, and the systems are 95% the same anyways.
    4) If it fits for you, get to know the mechs. For example, I help out one of my guys with computer stuff in barter. I know his family, and he knows mine. It’s a more sensitive pulse than what the waiting room looks like.
    5) Inquire when senior staff turns over. If they’ve been one of the main people working on your car, you probably know their name. If you like them you can often follow them to their new salon (er, shop).
    6) Understand that there are two main types of mechanic: heavy-line and driveability. The former specializes in “big” stuff: brakes, engine swaps, cooling systems, and the latter specializes in ticky-tack little things like a rough idle or “feeling” issues. YOU NEED THE SHOP TO HAVE BOTH in their repertoire since you’ll have both types of issues over time. And the bad news is that the best people at one type (line vs driveability) do not work as effectively at the other.

  30. Lurker Carl says:

    A mechanic, a lawyer, an accountant, a home handyman: any professional service you will need at various times over the years needs to be found BEFORE you require it. It’s difficult enough to find great professionals you can trust, worse when you need their services immediately.

  31. neilo says:

    Probably the biggest thing I’ve found that helped me select a mechanic is knowing my cars intimently. I do all the oil, coolant, brakes, shocks, whatever needs doing and whatever the home service manual for that model says is sane to do (which is why I left the auto transmission service to the mechanic).

    Anyway, I know my car and I know the procedures in the book for the car. The day came when the front brakes simply weren’t working right. I could see from the manual what needed to be done, but since I didn’t have a sand-blaster I couldn’t do the caliper overhaul. I called a few mechanics and explained the problem that I was having. They offered solutions, but the guy who impressed me the most pretty much gave me the service procedure straight out of the manual.

    A few months later, and our other car (a Kia Rio) is scrubbing it’s front tyres bad. I talked the mechanic again about a wheel alignment, and he said no. He then proceeded to ask several questions about what the car was actually doing, and eventually asked me if it had been in an accident on the front right-hand (driver’s) side. Long story short; he got the job, re-aligned the steering geometry, replaced two tyres (which I hadn’t budgeted for; thankfully our general car service account and our 2 month old emergency fund had sufficient funds to cover this) and all was well. Since I obsessively keep track of km’s and litres of fuel, I was able to determine (within two weeks) that the Kia had gone from 15.8 l/100km to 10.7 l/100km in city cycle, a dramatic saving. Because of my spreadsheet, we were actually able to see the result of his work.

    Anyway, moral of the story: you need to know your car so you can select a decent mechanic, so you can believe what he says and so you can see if there has been a change.

  32. I have mixed feelings about working with an independent mechanic. While it’s a great way to save some money, there’s no substitute for accountability and financial resources. To me it’s like shopping for a discount heart surgeon. It’s a great way to save money, but it’s risky too. Let me give you an example:

    I worked at a Ford dealership where one of the lube techs didn’t tighten an oil drain plug correctly. The customer made it about 10 miles before all the oil drained out and the engine seized. It was a $6k mistake (and we got off cheap). While a multi-million dollar dealership backed by a major manufacturer is more than capable of fixing their mistake (we got it done ASAP with a huge apology to the owner), I’m not certain an independent would have been able to pay for the repair. What small business person has $6k laying around for screw-ups? Also, what would stop a smaller repair facility from denying responsibility? Auto dealers are regulated by the state and their franchise, but independents (like guys working out of their garage) are poorly regulated at best.

    I’m not saying that independents are bad (I know of quite a few good ones), but it must be said that there are more risks working with some small-time home-based business than there are working with an established business.

    Dealerships are more expensive for a reason. The technicians are trained professionals, the facility is usually top-notch, and they can be held accountable for their actions. When it comes to repairs to your ultra-complicated and expensive car, why take a risk?

  33. James says:

    There’s some good advice here but I’ve always wondered how you know if you’re getting a fair deal. When I call 3 places I get 3 very different estimates. Not confidence inspiring. There’s a new website called repairpal.com that has repair prices for everything i’ve done on my honda accord, and so far they have been accurate.

  34. journeyer says:

    This is good advice. My dad was (is) a mechanic so I’ve never had to worry about where to get our car serviced. He’s now retired and travelling so I have to find a new mechanic (how could he do that to me!). So on with the search…

  35. Jeff Jones says:

    I had good luck with the cartalk.com site but you properly stress that no matter where you get your recommendations from you need to take some time and meet them.

    Definitely make sure to discuss the most important elements on your list.

  36. Carol says:

    We’ve dealt with our local mechanic/body shop for many years and although I’ve felt it’s quite expensive at times, after reading the remarks here, I realize he is probably right in the ballpark, as well as trustworthy and reliable too. I won’t be quite so harsh thinking about the bill next time (which in fact, he is willing to bill us instead of paying all at once, which is a big plus too). Wouldn’t it be great to be able to fix it yourself and save money, but that probably isn’t too realistic for most people these days.

  37. Sara says:

    The Better Business Bureau is huge. A friend of mine had troubles with a mechanic and the BBB was integral in her getting her money back.

  38. Macinac says:

    I used to have an old Saab in a town with only Big Three dealers. One day it had a dragging brake problem, leading me to take it in to be assessed and fixed. They showed me that the hand brake mechanism was failing to release, resulting in the brake drag. It was going to cost $500 to fix it (full replacement of all brake components on that axle, apparently) so I just paid $12 for the diagnosis and left. I subsequently sprayed most of a can of WD40 on the hand brake bits around that wheel, and drove for another two years with no brake problems.

  39. TParkerson says:

    Thanks for the post Trent…don’t know if anyone is still following the thread but had to chime in…I have a thing for wrench turners, Dad is one and so is hubby! Because Dad is one, I was taught at his elbow just like my brothers how to take car of my car and myself. At the risk of sounding slightly sexist, I would like to caution all the girls out there to get to know your car, its sounds, its smells, the way it feels.

    Several very good ideas here to find a good mechanic at home. Another is to call the fleet shop of your local municipality, be it city or county and ask them if they have someone they would be willing to recommend. These men and women are used to trying to hold things together with bubble gum and bailing wire and they can often tell you the most cost effective shops in the area or that they themselves would be willing to moonlight to do the work. Ask them where they would take their wife’s car. In fact, that one question is a good litmus test for any shop…if you ask a mechanic if he would let his shop work on his wife’s (or Mom’s) car, and he says no, you should RUN out the door!

    Once you do find a good one, keep them. Follow them to another shop if needed; they are like hairdressers and love to take clientele with them. When you do have to have repairs done, pay attention and ask questions. Have them show you the broken parts and always get a written estimate before repairs ( some states have laws requiring it!). Be able to relate any symptoms ( sounds, sights and smells) to them so that they can quickly and correctly diagnose the problem. And perhaps the biggest thing I know to keep your vehicle healthy, have them do your routine maintenance. Just like the human body, you auto has lots of moving parts that need regular attention…this will undoubtedly keep your car running smoothly for hundreds of thousands of miles!

    On of the best reasons I know to be fairly well versed in your auto is that you will break down far from home sometime in your life. You may have the most awesome mechanic in the world AT HOME but you need someone close to where you are. Look at Trent’s recent vaca experience…miles from home, family on board and without a running vehicle. You will need to find a shop to help you get back on the road. Here is where experience and knowledge will help you immensely. You may have to go to the only shop in a podunk town but if you are versed in your auto, they will not be able to take advantage of you. I broke down once in a little tiny town in Nebraska…middle of a cold November night, three girls in the car, no working headlights. Local mechanic wanted to re-wire my whole auto, costing me hundreds and using my entire Thanksgiving weekend, and by the way, not fixing the issue. Instead, I got .50 worth of wire from him and basically hot wired my headlights directly to the battery, which got me the 70 miles or so to my destination. ( Needed about a $3 ceramic module for my car’s electrical system, ordered 2 and kept a spare!)

    Short story long… find a good reliable car, find a great mechanic and invest in the quarterly maintenance. Ask lots of questions and don’t walk into a strange place with “sucker” tattoed on your forehead! Hope everyones gears mesh! Time’

  40. Kelly says:

    I am extremely spoiled as my dad owns a transmission shop. He can do the work at his shop if it is a transmission issue or direct me to a good mechanics. He always has crazy stories about the customers who shop around based on price when they need a repair. Often these customers will try and negotiate the price down. What they often don’t understand is that many of the shops that lowball their bids will either offer you a low price to get you in the door and then add on other “unexpected” charges later or do a hack job, where they break other things while fixing your car. Also, focus on maintenance! 90% of breakdowns are preventable.

  41. FY says:

    Ditto on using CarTalk.

  42. Macinac says:

    I think it is important to know which things you can go without — a simple example is air conditioning. It may be uncomfortable but the car will keep running. Conversely you should know which things absolutely must be fixed — like brakes. With this kind of knowledge you can decide whether you must stop where you are; or if you can keep going until you reach a place with adequate service.

  43. Frank Kelly says:

    I’ll second Lianna – I’ve found the “Mechanics Files” section of the “Car Talk” radio show web site very useful.


    and I’ve also used Yelp

  44. vince says:

    I found the best mechanic I’ve ever used on Yelp! http://www.yelp.com

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