Finding the right
mechanic is the first step in preserving your car
(if you choose not to do
the work yourself).
Word of mouth is one way to find a
talented and honest mechanic. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers who
they trust and if they have been satisfied with the service and prices. Never
say you've been referred to a new garage by a friend if you choose to utilize a
place that was
suggested to you. Some shops will take a referral as a sign of implied trust
and boost the cost of repairs accordingly - this applies to body shops as well as just about any
If your car or
truck is old and only needs to last you a short time before going to the big
car crusher in the sky, ask others in the same situation where they take
their cars. There are shops out there that will attempt to save you money by
"jury rigging" a repair or using parts from an auto wrecker etc..
There is no doubt a place and time for these types of mechanics and shops.
For complex repairs or intermittent problems, it's often best to take your
car to the place that knows your brand best - the dealership. It's fair
to say that they're hourly rates will be higher than the generic shop down the road, but you need to consider all of the (time saving)
equipment that they purchased specifically to service your type of car.
Their mechanics are fully trained, certified and up to date on your
considered becoming your own auto-mechanic?
When you take your car to the dealership in the
early morning hours you should notice that there's a line-up of cars queuing
up at the service check-in. A good dealership is always busy and it's in the
dealership's best interest to simply repair what's wrong with your vehicle
and move on to the next.
Often with complex repairs, the dealer's mechanics
complete the repairs in record time compared to generic shops – likely due
to the diagnostic tools specifically made to diagnose your brand of vehicle
and the parts availability on site. If they can get to the source of the problem faster,
without repeat returns, then many people can
justify the higher cost per hour.
Also consider that a poor repair department at a dealership will degrade the
reputation of the whole dealership including the sales department and so there's
more for them to lose if they aren't fair with you.
Note about dealership repairs:
A bad service adviser
can add a fortune in unnecessary repairs if you're not
experienced. Pay close and special attention to
how the service advisers treat their customers, including trying to sell
unnecessary service items. If you feel something is
amiss, don't hesitate to move on to the next dealership that sells your
type of vehicle.
If you own your car - you probably have
more interest in your vehicle than anyone else. Learning how to perform the
fundamentals will save you a bundle. If you take your time and do
your research, the job can be done with a lot more TLC. With videos on
you-tube, service manuals, library books and cutting-edge information on the
net, there's no reason why you can't learn how to do simple maintenance.
Such things as replacing a battery, a serpentine belt, changing your oil and
filter, replacing your air filter, changing windshield wiper blades,
replacing headlights and tail lights, checking the fluids etc. – are all very
simple stuff once you know how.
If your car is new it will become quite
apparent that all it actually calls for is simple maintenance for the first
year(s). Checking out your owner's manual and buying a shop manual, as well as
purchasing some basic (quality) tools will get you started on the path to
building a closer relationship with your car or truck.
If you choose to be your own mechanic,
go out of your way to learn every safety measure you can research for each
job you plan to do. If you're jacking up the car for example - learn all the
safety procedures and fail safe methods of doing so - before going out
in the driveway. Buy the best tools and jacks and jack-stands and always
inspect them before using them. You won't ever regret buying quality tools
since they're safer to use, have a lifetime warranty and will last you
forever (or last your neighbor forever, if you tend to loan tools out).
For major jobs you'll most likely prefer
to find a mechanic to perform the work rather than doing it yourself,
particularly if the proprietary tools and diagnostic machines are more
expensive than the repair warrants.
Have a look in the mirror;
you may be looking at the mechanic that could learn to know your car best and care
about it more than any other mechanic ever could!