Every new car and truck on the road will eventually need a service or a repair. While many new vehicles have their services and repairs covered by the dealer or manufacturer under warranty, owners of older vehicles often face expensive repairs and wonder if they can get services done elsewhere.
“Most consumers don’t realize they don’t have to go to the dealer for service and repairs. There are thousands of reliable and reputable, independent mechanics who can work on cars and trucks as knowledgeably,” says Lauren Fix, noted automotive expert and analyst from Car Coach Reports. During an interview with Lauren, she offered advice to those looking for a reliable mechanic.
“Always seek out an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified technician,” advises Fix. “ASE’s purpose is to protect vehicle owners and provide the peace of mind people expect when they take their car into a mechanic shop.” The ASE certificate identifies those mechanics who have completed training and tests to ensure they are competent to work on cars and trucks.
You should also seek out a master technician. “A master technician is an automotive service professional who has earned all eight certifications offered through the ASE. These areas of certification include electrical systems, engine performance, heating and air conditioning, engine repair, and more,” explains Fix. A master technician is an expert on today’s sophisticated automotive systems, which are far more advanced than those of your parent’s era.
Once you’ve found a certified mechanic, ask about their standard service rates. And check the owner’s manual in the vehicle, as that will show suggested services and their intervals. “Find out if the mechanic charges to perform a basic diagnostic exam to determine what exactly is wrong with the car. Some mechanics will do this for free, while it might cost you at other places,” says Fix. Always ask if they charge by the job (aka “flat rate”) or by the hour.
A reliable mechanic will be honest and upfront about services and repairs. If you are unsure about the work they are suggesting, ask them to explain the details recommends Fix. “Having your mechanic talk you through the process can help you to understand exactly what you are being charged for and enables you to ask any follow-up questions you might have.”
To build trust, a reliable mechanic will allow you to choose original (“OE”) manufacturer parts, or aftermarket parts that may be less expensive — sometimes the quality is identical. They will also offer to show you the old parts that were removed. “Not only is this educational for you, as you’ll be able to see the before and after, but it also helps ensure that the part was replaced. Even if you can’t take the old part with you because it’s too heavy, leaky, or messy, ask to see it nonetheless.”
Lastly, a reliable mechanic will stand behind their work, says Fix. “If the mechanic does offer a warranty, make sure you know exactly what it covers and for how long.” And don’t forget to ask for a detailed invoice, recommends Fix. “Don’t drive away from the repair shop without a detailed invoice breaking down exactly what was repaired, and which parts were replaced. The receipt will serve as your record in case something stops working within the warranty’s time frame.”
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