A lot of people believe that finding an honest mechanic is akin to finding an honest politician. And rightly so, given that the majority out there is over worked, underpaid and out to make money. It is true that almost all mechanics might have at some point of time overcharged or performed unnecessary tasks on your vehicle, but the question is how much can be considered to be acceptable loss?
You first need to know that a mechanic is not just a professional. He has to be someone you can trust and build a relationship with. If you act all high-strung and just walk into one and say ‘do the works’, you cannot expect him to be nice to you. It is important to use your people skills to start building a relationship.
A good mechanic will study your auto insurance policy and work with you in order to sort out your problems. If you are new in town, the first question that will pop up is ‘how to find the best mechanic?’ the easiest way is to ask around with friends and family and get a reference. This works wonders given the fact that those people would have already worked out a relationship and you will just need to carry it forward. Senior citizens in small towns end up becoming bum pals with their mechanics. So ask your dad or your grandpa, if you want to be introduced to the best mechanic in your locality!
For people who just don’t know anybody, by the way you need to work on your people skills; the internet is a good resource. Look around and try to find guys who have put up their rates on line. This way you will know that the firm is not partial to anybody and does not hide anything. Try them out after you discuss your auto insurance policy and then make a decision.
Almost all auto insurance companies will make a recommendation when you first get your policy, or even when you move to a new town. Now this may seem really nice, but do be aware that the mechanics that they recommend are the guys who come over and buy them lunch on weekends. This does not mean they are outright lousy, but it’s just that they may not be as good as the auto insurance company claims they are.
Then there is question of whether you should go for a dealer or an independent shop. A dealership will not usually deal with parts that are not from their manufacturer. And this might end up costing you a lot more. But dealerships have well trained mechanics who know the vehicle inside out due to the fact that they have been through the training. An independent shop with an experienced foreman is something that can beat a dealership anytime. But the problem is finding one. And the benefit of an independent shop is that you have the choice of going for OEM parts or factory parts or foreign parts.
When you go out to test a shop, there are a number of basic tests that you can do. You can just take it to the shop and tell them that a certain part is faulty or you can concoct a certain intermittent problem. If the shop does a diagnosis and tells you that there is no problem, you know that they are good. If not, then you better find a different service station.