Being a woman with an older automobile, I feel like I'm taken advantage of when it comes to car repairs. Does any one have any strategies for finding an honest mechanic?
Louise from Santa Clara, CA
My dad was a mechanic for 30+ years and my husband works in a big name shop. Here is my advice:
1. Do not go to a big name shop. They are all under pressure to make commission and thus try to sell work that in the best case, could wait.
2. Do not go to a shop that you hear advertised. A good mechanic has more work than he can handle just from word of mouth.
3. Ask the parts guys! They deal with all the mechanics in the area and know how the businesses are run.
4. Look for a shop with all of it's bays filled and a few more waiting in the lot. It's a sign that they get a lot of work.
5. If you can, scope out what kind of car the mechanic drives. You want it to be a beater. A good honest mechanic is not getting rich and will drive a car for as long as possible.
6. (this one also sounds counter-intuitive). Don't go to the cleanest nicest looking shop! There are couple of reasons for this. First, is the same as above: an honest mechanic isn't getting rich. Cosmetic repairs to the shop can wait. Second, an honest mechanic gets more work than he can handle. He will keep business costs down by having as few employees as possible. Because of this, the shop is likely to look dirty and cluttered. Third, he's got enough business! He doesn't need to impress people by keeping things spiffy.
7. Look for things in the shop that don't seem to belong in a garage. A lot of honest mechanics will barter with regular customers for work.
If you follow all of these suggestions, you will get a good one every time!