11 Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Auto Mechanic

Sarita Harbour

Though many Americans depend on a safe and reliable vehicle to get around, it’s also a big investment. And, while maintaining your vehicle with regular servicing and tune-ups can go a long way to extending its life, finding an auto mechanic you can count on may prove to be a challenge. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 66% of U.S. drivers don’t trust auto repair shops in general.

So how do you identify an experienced, trustworthy mechanic who not only does a good job but also charges fairly — especially if you don’t know much about auto repairs and/or local businesses? Consider these 11 tips to help you find a reliable auto mechanic in your area.

1. Ask Your Neighbors, Family, and Friends

When you’re searching for a mechanic to work on your vehicle, you may feel tempted to go with a brand name or franchise name that you know. However, a local family-owned auto shop that’s dedicated to good customer service as a means to build the business that supports their family, could be just as good or even better.

When trying to decide between a family-owned auto shop or a franchise, ask around. People love to share their stories of who does good work, and who doesn’t.

2. Pay Attention to “Auto Experts” in the Media

Does your local newspaper or television news station have a local auto expert? If so, give their business a call when looking for a knowledgeable auto repair shop. Even though they may not offer the lowest prices in the area, if the area media are willing to showcase their knowledge, chances are they know cars. So don’t choose your mechanic based on price alone.

3. Check With the Better Business Bureau

Although most mechanics are honest and most auto repair shops are trustworthy, every year there are some that leave customers less than happy. In 2016, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 10,000 complaints against auto repair companies.

Before taking your vehicle into a local auto repair shop, check out the reviews for them on the BBB website. You’ll see information about who owns the business and when it started. You’ll also find any reviews, complaints, and BBB accreditations.

4. Look for AAA-Certified Shops

More than 7,000 repair facilities across North America have the distinction of being an Approved Auto Repair (AAR) Facility, as accredited by the American Automobile Association (AAA). An AAR shop meets the strict professional standards of the AAA for customer service, facility appearance, and staff qualification and certification, and may be a good place to start when you need a new auto mechanic.

5. Find an ASE-Certified Mechanic

As with other professions, you may feel some peace of mind when you know you’re dealing with someone who has a professional certification in their field.

The independent nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) tests and certifies automotive professionals. ASE Certification for automotive technicians requires at least two years of on-the-job training or one year plus a two-year degree, plus successfully passing the test. Retests occur every five years to remain ASE-certified.

6. See Who the Bus and Taxi Companies Use

Bus companies and taxi companies depend on their vehicles to run smoothly. Why not call their head office and ask which local auto repair shop they use? Their recommendation could lead you to a trustworthy shop and a mechanic you can depend on.

7. Identify Shops That Have Been in Business Several Years

When considering a new auto repair shop, look for advertisements, window display stickers, or plaques celebrating how long the shop has been in business — the longer, the better. Or just ask. If their other customers hadn’t been satisfied all those years, the business would have folded a long time ago.

8. Take Your Vehicle in for a Minor Service

Before entrusting your vehicle to a new auto repair shop for major work, you can try them out with a smaller job, such as an oil change or tire rotation. See how they do. If they suggest additional work, say you’d like to get a second opinion. The service person’s reaction will tell you a lot about whether it’s a valid recommendation.

And, while you’re at it, ask about their options for payment plans, shop warranties, and senior discounts. Offering some (or all) of these services shows they’re serious about providing good customer service and that they value their customers’ business.

9. Seek out the Educational Experts

Many high schools and community colleges offer auto and shop classes, and the instructors there could be good sources of information about trustworthy local mechanics and auto shops, plus those to stay away from.

They may also have recommendations for mechanics who specialize in working on your make of vehicle, or those with experience working in the service department of the local dealership for your auto manufacturer. If you’re driving a hybrid or electric car, they could point you to a mechanic who understands these new green vehicles.

10. Check for Community Involvement

Businesses of all sorts, including auto repair shops, that are serious about building a long-term business in an area look for ways to become involved in the community they operate in. Taking note of which businesses participate in or support local events can help you figure out who’s committed for the long haul.

While this alone won’t guarantee their level of expertise, it does point to the values of the business owner. Watch out for news on repair shops taking part in fundraisers, community barbecues, and charity events, and make note of the name and location, so you can do a little more research on their automotive experience and services offered.

11. Ask Your Auto Insurer

Did you know that your auto insurance provider may also recommend auto repair shops, and that there could be an added benefit to using one of them? For example, customers may choose to use one of the more than 1,600 authorized auto repair shops in The Hartford’s approved network to work on their vehicle. The Hartford stands behind the completed work to give you peace of mind for as long as you own or lease your vehicle.

For many people, a vehicle is a significant investment, often second only in value to a home. It’s important to choose your auto repair shop and mechanic carefully — to help ensure you receive quality work at a fair price and keep your vehicle running smoothly.

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20 Responses to "11 Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Auto Mechanic"

  • Extra Mile Staff | December 13, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you for your feedback, Taylor!

  • Taylor Anderson | December 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I love how you pointed out that one should ask their friends and family for auto mechanic recommendations, as they will most likely recommend those that have given them great service. My friend's mother actually drives a school bus and it needs to be looked at. These tips could help her find a great mechanic, so thank you for sharing them.

  • Extra Mile Staff | November 14, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Olivia, we appreciate your feedback! Thank you.

  • Olivia Pearson | November 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    I appreciate how you mentioned that a sign of a trustworthy automotive repair shop is how long they have been in business. My friend is thinking of starting up his own shipping business and owning a commercial truck fleet, but isn't sure how to go about managing the repairs and maintenance. If he does end up starting his own company, I'll have to recommend that he find an experienced commercial truck repair company in his area that he can count on for any repairs so that his business can run efficiently and properly.

  • Easton Memmott | October 15, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    I like the tip you gave to look for an auto service that has been around for a while. My car's tires need to be rotated, and I want to make sure that I can get a reliable service. I will be sure to look for an auto service that has been around for a while, so I can know that I can trust their services.

  • Easton Memmott | October 15, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I like the tip you gave to make sure that your mechanic has experience working with your type of vehicle. My transmission is out, and I need to fix it soon because I need to drive to work in the morning. I will be sure to look for a mechanic who has experience with my specific type of vehicle, so they will be able to offer the best level of service.

  • James Lee Tucker | June 7, 2018 at 6:02 am

    I like your tip about choosing an auto repair shop that has been in the business for long years. We just moved to this city, and I'm looking for a repair shop in case my car needs breaks down. I'll go around town today and find which repair shop is well-established.

  • Chloe Sanchez | June 5, 2018 at 6:06 am

    I noticed that my car has been quickly running out of petrol which is weird considering it's supposed to have a good mileage. And based on your pointers, it would seem that I should talk to my mechanic about it asap. I like your tip about trying a minor job first before moving right away into a new auto repair shop. Thanks!

  • Joseph Martin | May 2, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Right when your auto needs repairment just take a gander at the issue and if the issue is minor basically try to settle everything alone and in case it go to a honest to goodness by then reliably searches for the help from the proffessionalists which offers genuine organization and extras you from unneccessarily costs.

  • Derek Dewitt | April 9, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    My wife and I recently moved to a new area, so we are looking for a mechanic in town to inspect our car. I like your point about choosing a shop that is certified by the American Automobile Association. This would prove to me they can safely handle any repair, so I'll be sure to ask about this.

  • Lary Cook | March 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    In addition to all the above-listed pointers, a factor that has to be given a significant consideration is to check whether the mechanics or the company are licensed, insured and bonded. And also, if they offer 100% customer satisfaction.

  • Deb Pearl | March 2, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    My car keeps squeaking every time I use my brakes and I have been wondering how I can find a good mechanic to take a look at them. Thank you for all the tips on how to find a good mechanic. I think it would be a good idea to ask around and see if anyone knows a mechanic.

  • Alice George | January 17, 2018 at 10:48 am

    After purchasing a car, the important thing is to choose a trustworthy mechanic for repairing purpose. Well some tips to find a trustworthy mechanic are Ask your friend for suggestion which auto shop they are visiting. You can check for a good mechanic also in online.Look up ASE and manufacturer-certified shops. Check their BBB rating standards. These are the main thing while choosing an trustworthy mechanic.

  • Persephone de Vito | January 16, 2018 at 6:44 am

    I definitely agree with you that longevity was one of the things to look at when hiring an auto mechanic. Like you said, if other customers weren't satisfied with the way they were treated, the business would have been long gone. Once I begin looking for a shop to take my car to, I'll make sure to remember the tips that you gave. I have a BMW that my dad has given me a few years ago and now it's needing brake repairs. Since this will be the first time that it needs repairs, I need help finding a good mechanic. This article will help me a lot. Thanks so much!

  • Marc | January 12, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    I loved when you mentioned how you should check with the BBB when looking for a good mechanic in your area. It is always a good idea to remember that doing this and reading online reviews can also help you find the best shop where your vehicle can be cared for. As I see it, taking the time to do some research and compare several mechanics can help you find the best one that knows how to work with vehicles like yours.

  • Michael Robinson | January 11, 2018 at 1:33 am

    Thanks again for the information listed here on asking your neighbors, family, and friends about auto repairs. Just like you said, family-owned shops are more dedicated to good customer service and might be better for you. My son is looking to take his car to a shop, and I think that he should ask his friends who are into detailing their cars about where he should take his car. Thanks again!

  • Ridley Fitzgerald | January 9, 2018 at 1:00 am

    I love your tips for finding a mechanic. Asking some of our new neighbors is a great idea because they all have cars too! We just moved, so I'll start asking around for the best shop.

  • Kylie Dotts | December 8, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I like your recommendation to talk to your auto insurance provider so they can give you some recommendations on which auto repair service to take your car to. We have a car that just broke down not long ago and we are going to need to get it fixed before the new year. It had never occurred to us to talk to our insurance agent, so we'll have to see who they recommend and do some research.

  • Marcus | December 7, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    I totally agree with you in that it is always a good idea to check with the BBB in order to find the best mechanic for your needs. it is important to understand that doing some research and compare several companies can help you find the best one for your vehicle. My brother was talking about how he was trying to find a good mechanic that could help him maintain his new BMW, so I'll share your page with him.

  • Charlie Gray | November 29, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I have been trusting my vehicles with Japanese Auto Masters in Virginia Beach for about a decade now and never had an issue!

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