During the lifetime of owning your car, you’ll need to arrange scheduled maintenance, as laid out in the manufacturer’s handbook, and, more than likely, car repairs too. But how do you know where to take your car and what to look out for?
Find out exactly how with tips we’ve compiled to put you in control and help you find a reliable mechanic.
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8 Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Mechanic Near You
Tip #1: Learn the basics
It’s an all-too-common scenario: you’re in the dealership or the auto repair shop, and you don’t want them to know you don’t feel prepared for the diagnosis.
If a mechanic is going to diagnose the problem and recommend a way to fix it, unless you know the basics of how a car works and likely problems (plus ballpark costs), you’ve got no way of knowing the true extent of the repair.
So, make sure you do your own research–search online, watch some beginner tutorial videos (especially ones about your own make and model of car), and equip yourself with a base level of knowledge. The Learning Center includes hundreds of blogs explaining common car repairs, essential car maintenance, and questions to consider when getting a repair done.
Tip #2: Choose where to take your car
Next, research dealerships and local independent repair shops. Below you can find more information to help you decide whether to take your car to a dealership or an independent mechanic.
Get recommendations from people you know and look online to find the best auto mechanic near you. Directories and tools such as Angie’s List can also be useful to help you put together a list of options you can then start to refine.
Tip #3: Check their credentials
Once you’ve got your longlist ready, you can start checking each mechanic against certain criteria.
First up, certification.
The ASE (the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) is an independent non-profit organization that certifies automotive professionals. Auto repair shops and dealerships can gain approval by the AAA (American Automobile Association), which guarantees that all the mechanics are ASE certified.
You can quickly check mechanics’ certification status on their websites, by calling them, or on the AAA (American Automobile Association) website.
Finally, check if they have any special training and certification for cars made by your manufacturer.
Tip #4: Check their reviews
Tip #5: Ask the right questions
Now you’ve got a well-vetted to shortlist and you’ve researched the basics of your car’s parts, maintenance schedule, and possible repairs, it’s time to call or visit the mechanic.
Describe the problem in detail and ask them a few simple questions to get an idea of their background and what they’re like. You can see our list of recommended questions for the mechanic below.
Tip #6: Compare quotes
Remember to get the written quote and see what it includes: you’re looking for parts, labor, and VAT.
It’s standard practice to get more than one quote, so don’t be afraid to say you’re going to do this. Of course, this is only a viable option if you’re still able to drive your car.
Tip #7: Get involved with the repair
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask the mechanic to involve you. Any mechanic should seek your approval before they carry out any work. But when they call you to tell you what they’ve found and their suggested course of action, you can absolutely ask them to show you the fault before you decide whether or not to go ahead.
If they’re happy to do this, it’s a clear sign you can trust them.
Tip #8: Build trust
It’s relatively risky to get a big repair done with a new mechanic, and it can make sense to test the waters with a simpler and cheaper service first.
This can tell you whether you like dealing with them before you trust them with a more significant job.
When to Take Your Car to a Dealership vs. a Local Car Repair Shop
You should always check the details of your warranty cover carefully to make sure you get the work done in line with the terms.
The good news for you as a car owner is that, as long as you check for certification, you can choose to take your car to either a dealership or an independent mechanic.
But what factors might affect your decision?
Your warranty – If your car is still under manufacturer warranty, it usually makes sense to get work done in a dealership that specializes in your vehicle and will use the manufacturer’s own replacement parts. Depending on where your extended car warranty is from, you may find your options are limited when you need to get your car serviced.
Quality and cost – Since dealerships work directly with popular brands like Chevrolet or Honda, their service team has access to parts suited to the specific make. Independent dealerships can require a bit more time to gather the resources, but they usually end up costing less in the end.
Convenience – Not everyone has a dealership close by, so the local car repair and maintenance shop could be a much more convenient option.
Personal preference – If you prefer to support local, independent businesses, this is another good reason to explore your local auto repair shop options first.
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Find a Mechanic with RepairPal and Endurance
All Endurance customers gain access to an extensive network of mechanics in their local area who can help them with any repair.
This means you can save time and worry – start your search with RepairPal and then follow the steps above to find your trusted mechanic. Simple!
Questions to ask when visiting a new repair shop
- Are you certified? Check what certifications the mechanic and the garage have.
- Are you specially trained to carry out maintenance and repairs for my car? Ask if they have special training to carry out maintenance and repairs on your make and model.
- Where do you source your parts? This is an important one – if they aren’t approved parts, they could invalidate your warranty.
- What is your hourly labor rate? Doublecheck their hourly rate doesn’t exceed the one permitted under the terms of your warranty.
- Do you provide a free estimate? Estimates are typically free, and this makes it easy for you to shop around and compare quotes.
- Are you happy to show me what you find and explain the proposed repair? It’s worth asking this up front and it’s definitely a good sign if they’re comfortable with this.
- Do you guarantee the maintenance or repair work you do? Make sure to check if they guarantee the work they carry out–usually this would be for a number of miles.
Save Thousands on Costly Breakdowns
When you buy a car, you know you’re likely to need either maintenance or repair work done at some point. That’s exactly what the Endurance Warranty is here to protect you against. Make sure your costs are minimized when your car needs work with the most comprehensive protection package on the market.
With the Endurance Warranty, you’ll enjoy 1-year’s FREE access to the Endurance Elite Membership. This gives you a year’s peace of mind, knowing you have access to all the benefits, which include key fob replacement, tire repair/replacement, $250 in reward vouchers, and much more!
With each protection plan, you can get even more cover, including 24/7 roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage, substitute transportation – accepted at any certified mechanic. Request a free, no-obligation quote below to learn more about how we can get you back on the road today.