What To Look For When Choosing An Auto Mechanic
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What To Look For When Choosing An Auto Mechanic

Select your auto mechanic as carefully as you would chose a primary care physician.

There once was a time when every man had a solid understanding of what went on under the hood of their car. The same could be said about the ladies too, but not today. Today's cars are so high-tech with all their on board computers that few drivers know what is happening under the hood. They rely entirely on their mechanic to meet their needs. The problem with that is that there are many unscrupulous mechanics that will take advantage of your ignorance. You need to choose your auto mechanic as carefully as you choose a primary care physician.

Is The Shop Mechanics ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence)certified?

There have always been unscrupulous mechanics that played on the ignorance and the fears of the motorist, especially the female motorist. They were mechanics that ripped the motorist off in many ways. Some were not qualified and fixed problems by trial and error. They replaced one part after another until they found the part causing the problem. Then they charged the motorist, for all the parts they did not need, and for all the time, they wasted looking for the real cause of the problem. Then there were the real rip off artist, the mechanics that knew the cause of the problem but convinced the motorist that they needed more parts than they needed. Until the early 1970s, consumers had no way to distinguish between incompetent and competent mechanics. In response to this need, the independent, nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was established in 1972. Before the founding of the ASE, there was no way for a motorist to judge a mechanic's qualifications. ASE certified mechanics wear a blue and white patch that makes them easily identifiable. The shop that employ them have blue and white decals or signs identifying them as ASE certified shops. An ASE certification is no guarantee of honesty, but it does give the motorist a way to judge qualifications as a mechanic.

Is The Shop Certified By The AAA?

Look for a shop certified by The American Automotive Association. Motorists need to belong to Triple A. Being able to access a list of reputable garages is just one of a plethora of benefits that membership offer motorists. The AAA sign may not be able to guarantee the honesty of every shop employee, but it does provide an assurance of the garage owner's honesty and integrity.

Look For A Clean Shop

If a garage owner allows his garage to become cluttered with empty oil cans, old tires, and the floors to go uncleaned, you can be sure that his work will be just as sloppy.

Never Sign A Blank Work Authorization

A reputable shop will give you a signed, work order with estimates on the work to be performed. The signed work order should give details on the warranties offered. If a shop tries to get you to sin a blank work order, it is time to take your business to another shop.

Be Sure That The Garage Has Modern Diagnostic Equipment

Today's cars cannot be properly serviced without computerized diagnostic equipment. Do not entrust your car to any mechanic who tells you that he does not need this equipment to diagnose and service your vehicle. The day when the only diagnostic tools a mechanic needed was his five senses are long gone.

When To Take Your Car For A Second Opinion

If you are facing a major repair and a big repair bill, it is time to take your car to another shop for a second estimate. If you take your car for a second opinion, do not tell the second mechanic what the first mechanic told you. Tell him you brought the car to him for a second opinion but keep him in the dark about what the first mechanic told you.

Be Aware Of Gimmicks

If you take your car to one of those “quick lube” places for an oil change be aware that many will try and sell you other services that you may or may not need at that time. It is true that coolant systems need to be flushed out and the coolant replaced, but not more than once a year. They will try to sell you brake system and powering steering system flushes but not as often as they would like to sell you the service. Educate yourself on the service intervals for these services by reading your owner's manual.

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Comments (7)

Good article. We had a rip-off place in my area preying especially on older widows. One of their specialties was replacing perfectly good surpentine belts. Another was telling customers that their wheel was about to fall off, resulting in an unnecessary hub replacement. You could drive a new car off the showroom to this place and guaranteed they would find something wrong.

You are right on this, Jerry. With the high standards of living and the existing state of the world economy, every aspect of business takes some harsh practice that shows the effect on everyone's pocket. Even authorized service centers were just way too expensive.

Truly helpful. I like the portion on second opinion.

I'm bookmarking this. I'm getting a car at the first of the month, and I will need a mechanic from time to time. It's not a new car... a 95 Buick Lesabre Custom.... in perfect shape. Never had a drop of rain on it, unless it was driven in the rain... my son in law's aunt is in an Alzheimer's home and hasn't driven the car in at least two years. I know sooner or later it will need so "help." Thanks for this article.

Ranked #1 in Car Repairs

Charlene, if that car hasn't been driven in two years, has someone at least started it up and ran it for a few minutes every week? It's not good for a ca to remain idle for that long unless it had been prepared properly for long term storage. The first thing that you need to have done to that car is to have all, and I mean all, the fluids changed and the systems flushed out. Engine coolant and thermostat; engine oil and oil filter; automatic transmission fluid and fluid filter; power steering fluid; and brake fluid. All these systems should be flushed out too. The air filter element and inline fuel filter should also be changed. It would be a good idea to have the fuel tank drained and flushed out as well. You will be looking at a high service charge but having these services performed right away will save you money in the long run.

Excellent article, Jerry; very helpful. It's difficult to know who to trust, especially if you've been ripped off before as I and many others have been. Lately, if I've needed any work done, I've asked around to friends and aquaintances where they have received quality and ethical service.

Very helpful article! rt'd, dugg, voted up.