Catherine Hiles
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5 Tips for Choosing an Auto Repair Shop

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female mechanic holding a car part with an elevated vehicle in the background

No matter the time of year, it’s important to stick to your car’s preventative maintenance schedule to make sure its components are in proper working order. Failure to maintain your car can lead to breakdowns and accidents, as well as your car aging prematurely and needing to be replaced sooner.

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But deciding where to take your car for maintenance or repairs can be a challenge, especially when you’re surrounded by multiple chains and dealerships begging for your business. These five tips for choosing an auto repair shop can help you find someone you can trust.

1. Ask friends for referrals

The best way to find a trustworthy mechanic is to ask your close friends and family for their recommendations. Your aunt or best friend might know the perfect mechanic that will give you straightforward advice and repair your car quickly and efficiently. On the flip side, your friends can also warn you against bad mechanics they might have come across in the past.

Reach out to local friends directly, or post on social media (your personal timeline or in a local group) to ask for recommendations.

2. Check out online reviews

In this day and age, hardly anyone buys an item — small or large — without first reading reviews online. Why should choosing a mechanic be any different? Check out Yelp, Google, Facebook, and DealerRater for reviews (both good and bad) from real customers that will help you choose a quality mechanic from the get-go.

Once you have a repair shop in mind, check on the Better Business Bureau website to see if there are any complaints against them. Many times, the business will have resolved the issue. This is important to see, because no business can have 100 percent satisfied customers, so it’s important to see how they handle disputes. You can also check on review sites to see how the repair shop has responded to negative reviews in the past.

3. Start looking in advance

Rather than waiting to find a mechanic until you need one, start looking around as soon as you buy your car or move to a new location. If you try to make a decision when you’re under pressure — for example, when your alternator is busted — you’re more likely to rush your decision and potentially end up going someplace untrustworthy.

Also keep in mind that you need to be taking your car to a mechanic on a regular basis for things like oil changes and tire rotations to help prevent future issues, so it’s important to have a plan for where you will take your car to get these services completed.

4. Visit the repair shop

Look for technicians’ diplomas or National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) training certificates on display in the waiting room. Additionally, labor rates, payment information, guarantees, and fees should be posted in the front office. Also look out for any plaques or certificates naming awards, community projects, or BBB affiliation as a mark of an honest repair shop.

5. Start small

When you’ve chosen a repair shop that you think sounds reputable, take your car in for something minor, like an oil change or tire rotation. If you’re satisfied with the price, quality, and timeliness of the service, you should be more confident if and when you need to take your car in for a more serious repair.

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