First of all, know that not all mechanics are shady. That said, it’s always a good idea to be discerning when taking your car to a new shop. A good start is to ask around to see if any of your friends can give you a recommendation based on their experience. Who do they go to? Better yet, who would they send their mother to?
If you don’t get any recommendations, you’re going to have to be on your toes to choose a shop you feel you can trust. Will they over-charge? Will they charge you for something they said they did, but didn’t? Will they try to scam you? If you’re unsure after talking with a mechanic take your car to another shop for a second opinion.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Read the manual.
A shop may insist a particular service is absolutely necessary. Check your owner’s manual to make sure this is the case. A good example is flushing for coolants and power steering. These services aren’t usually necessary until you’ve hit a certain number of miles.
2. Check with your dealer.
That part you’re told needs to be replaced might still be under warranty, so it pays to find out. If it’s covered, your dealer will replace it at no cost. Ask your dealer before deciding to let the mechanic do the work.
3. DIY if you can.
You can do some maintenance yourself. You can check out how-to videos for just about everything on YouTube if need be. If a mechanic says a belt needs to be changed, ask him to show it to you then buy the piece at a supplier and install it yourself. Another DIY project is an engine hose change. Like with belts, you can inspect hoses for damage or cracks. Get second opinions if you need to.
4. Make sure the mechanic is certified.
A reputable mechanic’s shop should have certifications from the ASE, ASA, AAA or another industry group. This detail can up the trustworthy factor for you.
5. Don’t be scammed.
Some mechanics try to scare you, insisting you really shouldn’t drive away from the shop without a service. If you feel that pressure and suspect that advice isn’t true, it might be worthwhile to get a second opinion.
6. Get it on paper.
Be sure to get a written estimate before approving anything, and never sign a blank work form. Also, ask for a written warranty. If the mechanic is good the work will be guaranteed.
7. Get your old parts back.
Don’t feel uncomfortable about asking to get your old parts back. Getting them back gives you evidence that the part really needed to be replaced, or that the work was actually done.
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