How to Hire an Auto Mechanic without Going Broke

Several kinds of shops repair and service cars. Save money by choosing a car-repair option other than a dealership (which costs the most). Each car pro has drawbacks, as well as advantages.

  • Chain and department stores: Generally less expensive than dealerships. They usually stock a wide variety of parts, and provide guarantees on parts and labor. Many also accept coupon and discount mailers from competitors.

    The downside is that the technicians may get a commission on the parts they sell, motivating them to sell you a new part instead of repairing an old one.

  • Independents: Many independent shops are less expensive than dealerships. The best independents offer honest, reliable, and experienced independent mechanics.

  • Specialists: Deal with a specific type of repair, such as brakes, transmissions, or mufflers, or work only on specific makes or types of vehicles, such as imports, motorcycles, or vans.

Several organizations test, rate, and certify good service facilities or individual technicians:

  • AAA- and CAA-approved repair facilities: Approved by both the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

  • ASE-certified technicians: The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifies technicians by testing them on a variety of automobile repair specialties.

  • IGO (Independent Garage Owners Association): Although being an IGO member doesn’t qualify individual technicians, it has a code of ethics that members pledge to live up to if they want to stay in the organization.

  • Better Business Bureau: Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see whether a shop has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints.

  • Referrals: Ask people who drive the same make vehicle as you do where they go for repairs, and then check out the shops (and find out which to avoid).

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