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How To Know If Your Mechanic Is Any Good

Finding a decent mechanic isn’t always easy. Partly because as ‘customers’ we don’t always know how our cars work… Partly because mechanics are generally better at their trade then customer service… And partly because there are some genuine snakes out there that feed into our overall distrust.

So today we’ll attempt to break down the walls and help you understand what a ‘good’ mechanic looks like today, and supply the questions you need to find them.

What’s their main game?

What cars do you specialise in?

For people who take their cars to a non-dealer operated business this simple question can save you a lot of time and money. As the car market becomes more diverse, we’re seeing more mechanics follow suit and specialise in targeted corners of the market. Whether it’d be electric, gas, diesel, European, and even “post-2004” models, you should know if they can handle the particulars of your car.

Are they open to cheaper parts if appropriate?

Do you use aftermarket gear?

Too often, “branded” parts come with an elevated price tag (usually due to their name, more than the substance of what they offer). Ask your mechanic if they look at the best part options available, not just the labelled option. If so, it’s a good sign for how much bang for buck you’ll get on your final bill.

For the record, there will be times when the best option will be the branded item for durability and perhaps performance reasons. That’s ok. Just make sure you know your options.

Are there reviews about?

What do people say about them?

As always, friends and family will help sway where you and do not take your car. But often times word-of-mouth on the internet and social media can prove just as useful. For example, try a quick google search of the below… the results might be revealing.

  • *{business name}* reviews
  • should cover most of what you need, but if not, try the ones below too
  • * {business name}* facebook
  • *{business name}* productreview.com.au
  • *{business name}* yelp

Another tip you can try is reaching out your car club (if one exists). They (the person who runs it or the online forum) can point you in the direction of a solid local mechanic.

What happens if you find a problem during the inspection?

The last thing you want is bill shock. Make sure your mechanic is in the habit of reaching out before work begins with options and plan. The types of things you can be looking out for include:

  • A clear explanation of the problem and how you would notice it in your cars performance
  • Options. Is this a now problem or can it wait 6 months+

Transparency. With better phones and mobile internet speeds, mechanics are now sending videos of their inspection to better explain the issue at hand before work begins

Will you get an itemised bill?

Regardless of how mechanically minded you are, knowing how much you’re being charged and for what (parts, labour) is crucial. Not only is it great for accountability but it gives you a brief you can take down the road if you think you’re paying too much.

Other tips things to keep in mind are:

  • Once common-place, the willingness to show you the old / removed part is another sign of a good mechanic. Even if you don’t understand what you’re looking at it is a solid gesture of openness.
  • Try getting a quote from multiple mechanics before going ahead. A site like autoguru.com.au is one such option

Have a chat and follow your gut

This next one’s more of a statement than a question: if you can spare the time, head in and chat with the person doing the work or leading the workshop. It will go a long way to finding the common ground or realising the bad fit before damage is done. For example:

  • Seeing the state of the workshop and types of cars being worked on can speak volumes for how your car will be treated
  • How you’re spoken to can give you a sense for how the relationship might go during and post service. Are they genuine? Do they seem stand-offish? Are they willing to answer questions? If you don’t feel comfortable, there’s probably a good reason for it
Luke Samuels

Luke is the Marketing guy at FitMyCar. He's been writing & selling stuff online since the day he got his licence to drive and despite a lack of taste in cars, he's managed to work in one automotive role or another for half his working life.

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