Five Avenues to Drive Down When Picking an Auto Repair Shop


The cold touch of dread just fell all over you.

You were driving down the highway, and suddenly, your car started making a noise — remember it, because you will soon have to imitate it for a mechanic — and the entire vehicle started to wildly vibrate. Oh, no. Something is seriously wrong. 

We have all been in this same situation. The sputtering, the shaking, the sluggish response. It is time for repairs. 

With so many auto shops and mechanics around your area, how do you find the right one for the job? 

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Get Word-of-Mouth Recommendations From Family and Friends

Even in our modern, high-tech, “connected” world, word-of-mouth is still a valuable resource. You completely trust your family and friends and their advice, so lean on them when you are choosing a mechanic or auto repair shop. 

When they had transmission issues, who did they trust to do the work? Where do they take their car for an oil change? Which mechanic properly handled their engine work? 

The opposite is true, too. Which mechanic gave them problems? Who performed shoddy auto body work on their truck? Which auto shop do they suggest you avoid?

Listen to their experiences as you choose where to take your vehicle.

One thing to also consider as you think about auto repair: Start “shopping around” before an emergency occurs with your car or truck. When you must have your vehicle repaired immediately, you will not have the time to ask questions, get references, and make informed decisions about a mechanic or auto shop. 

Research Mechanic Reviews Online, Too

We do, however, live in that “connected” world, and you can access another valuable resource right at your fingertips, whether it be on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. The Internet contains an innumerable variety of customer reviews, for everything from pepperoni pizza to contractors. Internet users — people just like you — also regularly review mechanics and auto shops, and you can easily find these with one click.

Seek out the same type of answers you received from your family and friends. Did a particular auto repair shop make unnecessary, expensive “repairs” to someone’s engine? How was a mechanic’s customer service? Does a certain transmission shop have a reputation for shoddy workmanship?

Armed with word-of-mouth and Internet recommendations and warnings, you will be ready to make your choice, whether it is brake work, an engine overhaul, or a simple oil change.

Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask!

Once you have chosen one or several auto repair shops to potentially handle your transmission, engine, brakes, oil change, or auto body work, it is now time for the interview process. You would not blindly hire an employee without first talking to them personally, so why not approach hiring a mechanic in the same fashion?

Auto repair shops will give you an estimate on the required work, so take advantage of this. Find out what competing shops will charge you for the same job. But remember, the lowest price does not always mean the best bid. Sometimes, you do get what you pay for.

Do not simply settle for the estimate, though! Ask the mechanic other questions. Does the auto shop regularly handle repairs on your make and model? Do they offer a guarantee on their work? Ask about their experience and any certifications the mechanics may have earned. Ask about their customer service. Ask, ask, ask! Use these questions as an opportunity to get a personal read on the mechanic.

Do not hesitate, as well, to ask for the names of some of their customers to contact for more reviews.

If they balk at any of these requests, this may indicate that this is not the auto shop for you and your vehicle.

Make Certain You Understand What the Mechanic is Doing

You have finally made your choice, and the auto shop is performing the repairs on your car or truck. Make the mechanic explain the work to you in terms that you will understand.

Obviously, we are not all gearheads. In fact, you may not know your alternator from your oxygen sensor. Some shady mechanics can take advantage of this fact, using it to inflate the labor and parts costs and perform unnecessary “repairs.”

Insist that they explain the work. If they use a technical term you do not understand, ask them what it means. If they quickly skim over an explanation of the way something operates, ask them for a clarification. Make sure you understand what they are doing to your vehicle.

Equipped with these tips, you can have a great auto repair experience!