Hiring an Auto Mechanic? 9 Things to Consider First
Proper maintenance, timely inspections and regular servicing are keys to a long and healthy life from your vehicle, as well as maximum resale value when you trade in or sell one day down the line.
A great mechanic will help ensure your ride is getting top-notch maintenance and care at a fair price with reliable, quality work.
What makes a great mechanic, and how can you find one near you? Read on for a few tips and pointers on finding a great mechanic, and starting a long-term relationship that’ll benefit you, and your car.
1. Are they certified?
Both the mechanic and shop should be certified and licensed. A licensed mechanic is someone who is educated with years of study, technical, and hands-on experience. When a mechanic is licensed, it’s a confirmation that they’re professionally trained to deal with unexpected problems, common repairs, and diagnostic procedures. Additionally, manufacturer-certified mechanics have been trained as experts on specific makes or models.
2. Seek out recommendations
A great way to find a solid mechanic is to ask for input from people you trust. Whether via a Facebook post or a message in an online owner’s community, asking friends and family to recommend a mechanic in your area will get you a list of solid recommendations from people you know.
Before buying a certain make or model of car or truck, consider joining an online owner’s community on Facebook, Reddit, or an online forum. These communities are full of owners of the vehicle you’re considering, often with sub-forums for specific geographical regions.
Within these forums, existing owners will happily share their most recommended shops and mechanics. If you’re considering a hybrid, electric, diesel or speciality / exotic vehicle, online communities can become an even more valuable resource, and can direct you to known experts in repairing and maintaining the specific model you’re after.
For instance, there may be a go-to diesel mechanic in your area, a favourite EV repair shop, or a well-known German car specialist.
3. Read the reviews
While scoping out a shop, be sure to monitor them on all forms of social media, and with a Google search. Along the way, take note of whether or not the shop can be contacted via text, email or messenger (if you prefer), and be sure to read reader comments and reviews on both Facebook and Google.
Dig into the comments and review sections for a look at how the shop you’re considering interacts with its customers online. Many shops engage with customers online, a sign that they take their reputation seriously and value good lines of communication.
4. Scope out the shop
Whether using online street maps or making a drive-by visit, check out the shop you’re considering ahead of time. Parking is often an issue at smaller shops, so be sure to check out the parking lot. Is it roomy and organized, or crowded and messy? Look for security camera coverage, in case you’ll leave a parked car behind, or overnight.
Is there a secure and easily-accessible key-drop box for after-hours drop-off of your car or truck? Is the property gated and fenced, or open? Near a busy intersection, or somewhere more remote?
5. Are they a mobile mechanic?
Mobile mechanics are a thing, and with a phone call or email, they can be summoned to your work or office to diagnose problems, perform repairs and updates, or swap defective parts and components.
Some shops offer mobile service and other perks like shuttle service and customer business lounges. Others don’t. If these amenities are important to you, be sure to check before you make a decision.
6. The after-hours drop
For many customers, it’s most convenient to drop your car for service at the end of the work day, or overnight, outside of business hours. If you’re one of these customers, be sure to ask some questions to help make sure your car is as safe as possible when left on the property after hours.
Don’t be shy: does the shop’s insurance cover theft or damage? Is the area under security camera? Is the key drop well-lit and safe after dark? What instructions or documentation need to be left with your keys? Where should you park your car when dropping after hours? Can the car be stored inside overnight?
Knowing what to expect during an after-hours drop can make for an easier and more stress-free repair.
7. Lines of communication
Are you a text-only person who dreads the sound of your phone’s ringer? Do you typically work with your email open all day? Are you a fan of phone calls and human-to-human chatter?
Whatever the case, be sure to tell the mechanic / shop you’re considering your favourite ways to get in touch for updates and appointment scheduling, and make sure they’re able to communicate with you there.
Most offer numerous options with as much (or little) human interaction as you like.
8. Updates and servicing reminders
A good mechanic will help you keep track of how to service your ride, by sending updates and reminders of its specific service intervals. Whether oil changes, tune-ups, annual inspections or fluid changes, regular servicing requirements are laid out in the owner’s manual, and following them makes your car last longer, hold more of its value, and operate more reliably.
Ask your mechanic how they’ll help you stay on top of regular servicing, and how they’ll remind you of upcoming appointments.
9. Tire storage
Many Canadians run a set of all-season tires most of the year, and switch to a dedicated winter tire in the colder months. An increasing number of Canadians are taking advantage of seasonal tire storage offered by some mechanics and shops, mitigating the need to store a set of wheels and tires at home.
If you’re tight on storage space at home, seasonal tire storage is a great service to look for when considering your next mechanic – and you’ll never have to load and unload tires from your car or truck again.