We aren’t all car-savvy, and some of us can get sorely mislead when it comes to our cars. Not everyone knows what every purr and growl of their car means. I’ve always been amazed by the guys that I know who can tell me every little thing that is wrong with their car (and how long they can shove off fixing it before their car is in really dire shape). I can’t do that. So I have to trust my mechanic.
But not all mechanics are what they seem to be…mechanics have the unfortunate reputation of being slightly unsavory, and tweaking the cars of unsuspecting grandmothers so that the car will break down and they’ll have to come and get it fixed again and again and again…
What To Look For
To prevent a potential mechanic rip-off situation, there are some things you can look for that can indicate the quality of the shop you’re about to do business with. People may say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but well, that’s a book. You do have the right to take a look around the garage and judge what you see, assuming you are able to correctly interpret what you find!
- How well maintained are the 2 post lifts and the 4 post vehicle lifts? Are they Bendpak, or are they of perhaps lesser quality? Is there visible rust or wear and tear?
- How well is the equipment maintained in the shop?
- How clean are the floors?
- Is the place (relatively) clean overall?
- Are the mechanics certified to be doing this work – can you see the actual certifications? ASE certification is very common and a good standard, but look for membership in your local chamber of commerce too.
- Are there any reviews of the shop on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc?
- A big indicator that a lot of people sometimes forget about is the actual state of the cars currently in their parking lot. Do they look like functional, working cars, or are they simply lawn ornaments?
You should also take into consideration how you found the garage. Did you just happen to see it on the roadside and decide to stop in, or was it recommended to you by a friend or family member? Especially for those of us that are a little less motor-literate than the rest of the population, I would strongly suggest going off of the recommendation of people you know and trust the opinions of.
Finally, when you interact with the technician himself (or herself).
- How do they interact with you?
- Are they knowledgeable about your car make and model?
- Do they try and determine what is going on with your car just based on your oh-gosh-I-don’t-know-anything-about-cars description, or do they actually do a full review of your car?
- Can they actually articulate to you what is going on with your car, or do they avoid a full explanation?
- Does your car get repaired and then die again a few weeks later?
- Do they try and sell you on preventative maintenance that seems unnecessary?
These are all definitely warning signs that something is more than a little off with this roadside mechanic. Take heed of the alarm bells going off in your head and get out before you get in too deep and your car is inadvertently totaled, or stuck with a lifetime of repairing the “repairs” that your “mechanic” did.
Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer who works often with suppliers of Bendpak products, including durable 4 post lift – hopefully you won’t be seeing your car hauled up on one by a mechanic who doesn’t know what he’s doing…