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Finding a Mechanic 
Looking for Mr. Goodwrench? Remember these hints
By BENGT HALVORSON

11 Ways


Find a Mechanic Finding a good repair shop is one of the toughest tasks of car ownership, because there often isn't a good, clear choice. The key is, of course, to find a good, trustworthy mechanic before things go wrong. If you've already found a competent, honest mechanic, good for you. For the rest of us, here's how you might try:

Check your warranty
First, if your vehicle is newer and under warranty, you'll probably need the dealership to perform the repair if you want to make a warranty claim and have it performed at the expense of the manufacturer. Many new vehicles now come with comprehensive, three-year warranties that cover just about everything but routine oil-change servicing (some even cover that), and powertrain warranties now go as long as 10 years, so check with the warranty information that came with your vehicle.

Ask for recommendations
Ask friends, family, co-workers or acquaintances for recommendations. "One of the best ways to find a good repair shop is through word of mouth, just as you would find a good family doctor by asking around," says Pat Lampel of the National Institute for Automotive Service
Excellence (ASE).

Check for accreditation
Look for accreditation from ASE, and an endorsement by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Up-to-date certification should be in clear display. Also check for individual mechanics' certification on display.
 

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Look for cars similar to yours
Check which types of cars are parked outside for servicing. Are there any cars of your model and vintage? If your car is an older car, look for a shop that specializes in your make. If the shop isn't used to repairing your model vehicle, your repair may have to wait for special-order parts, and the mechanic may not know about common problems.

Test the shop with a minor repair
Test a potential repair shop by having them perform an oil change or other minor repair. If you're not satisfied with how they handle your minor repair, you shouldn't trust them for a breakdown or a major one. Remember, it's best to have a good mechanic chosen before you really need it.
 
Good service writers are important
A good service writer will patiently listen to your description of the problem, and ask you questions as you're explaining it (and take a drive out with you if necessary), then he or she will effectively communicate the problem to mechanics and technicians, provide an accurate, written estimate before the repair, and follow up with a talk-through on what was done. A good service writer will also always ask for your consent if the cost of the repairs goes beyond the predetermined amount. In fact, in most states, it's the law. Make sure you give the service writer, and the mechanic, if possible, the most information you can about the problem. Details such as when the car was last serviced and when a noise happens are important.

Ask about the warranty
Make sure there is a warranty on all repairs done by the shop, and make sure the shop's warranty covers parts and labor. Thirty days is the industry standard and the absolute minimum to accept; ninety days is good; and six months is a rare surprise. A good, reputable shop will stand behind the parts they install and will put in extra, free labor if you bring it back to make sure the job's done right.

Never choose a repair shop based on price
Many repair shops, including some with big national names, are infamous for using the bait-and-switch technique, advertising a $99 brake job that quickly becomes a $799 brake job once your car is on the rack and the estimate is written. It may cost less in the long run to bring your car to a mechanic who charges more but is honest and knowledgeable.

Take it to the right type of shop
Choose a good, independent repair shop that is accustomed to performing repairs to cars such as yours. Check that the shop normally performs the repairs you need. We-fix-everything, national-franchise repair shops usually aren't the best choice for specialized repairs, older cars or lesser-known foreign models. Look for a tidy appearance to the shop, clean, well-kept tools, and modern diagnostic equipment.

Is the shop busy?
Does it have steady business? Do other customers look satisfied with their work? What's your gut feeling about the way the place does business? These are good indicators that may help you choose. An out-of-the-way shop with a steady flow of business is a positive indicator.

Meet the mechanic
Get to know the actual mechanic, or technician, who works on your car. Establishing a dialogue with the mechanic will allow him or her to understand what kind of driving you do, your car's repair record, and what your expectations are
 

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