How do you find a good mechanic? It’s not just a matter of finding someone who does quality work, but also someone who can do the work you need. Here are some tips that will help you find a shop that will best fit your needs.
Know the Basics
Jokes about blinker fluid and muffler bearings aside, if you have some basic knowledge about how your car works, it will be a lot easier to judge the quality of work you’re getting on your car. There are plenty of resources available online from HowStuffWorks to Engineering Explained that can give you an overview of basic systems.
You should also take a look at your car’s owner’s manual and the maintenance schedule. This will give you a good idea about what you’ll need for regular maintenance, but they don’t include wear items like brakes and tires because their lifespan can vary depending on how the car is used.
Find a Shop that Fits Your Vehicle
Broadly speaking, modern American, Japanese and Korean cars use similar designs, so a general shop should have everything they need to repair them, while European cars often require special tools and equipment that these shops may not have. Likewise, exotic cars from any country will require specialized tools and knowledge. Have an RV or a dually truck? You’ll need to find a shop that has the space for your vehicle. Does your vehicle have a diesel engine? You’ll need to find a shop with a technician trained in diesel repair.
Decide on the Type of Shop
National chains have warranties that can be used at any of their shops, which can be handy if you travel a lot. Some independent shops are part of networks like Certified Auto Repair, which lets you use your warranty at associated shops across the nation.
Dealerships get the latest training, equipment, and information direct from the manufacturer. While they may be expensive, there are times when they can handle model-specific repairs better than other shops.
Local shops have lower overhead than chain and dealership shops, but that doesn’t mean they offer inferior service. Unlike dealerships, they have the equipment and experience to handle a wide range of vehicles, and they’re often able to specialize in specific repairs. It’s also common for experienced dealership mechanics to open their own shops. This gives them knowledge of older cars even the current dealership mechanics may not have.
Look for Certifications
A lot of shops advertise ASE certification, and for good reason. The National Institute for Automotive Excellence has developed a standardized testing system that shows the technician’s proficiency in auto repair that is well regarded throughout the industry. There are tests for almost every type of auto repair from brakes to collision damage assessment. Technicians have to retake these tests every few years to prove they’re up to date on new automotive systems.
I-CAR has a sort of post-graduate education system for body repair technicians to keep them up to date on new vehicle repair techniques. For a shop to be Gold Class, the technicians need to have continual certification training.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) provides services and training that helps shops provide better service. This helps the shop perform better in general, rather than concentrating on individual technicians.
Know Who to Ask
When you want advice about which shop to bring your car to, ask someone who’s into cars. Since they know more about the subject, they’ll be a better judge of quality work. Already have a mechanic you can trust? They can give you advice on specialists.
Look at the Shop as a Business
Judge the shop the same way you would any other business. Is it clean and kept up? Is the staff courteous? Does it have a good rating from associations like the Better Business Bureau and AAA?
Start Out Small
Before you need major work done, have the new shop take care of a minor repair to see what your experience will be.
The mechanic should go over the issue and its solution, and he or she should take the time to answer your questions. You should also be offered a written estimate that’s broken down into parts and labor?
What Does the Ideal Shop Look Like?
We’d like to think Merton Auto Body is as good as it gets when it comes to auto body repair, and with over 70 years in the business, we think our customers would agree. Our technicians are ASE certified, and we’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop. That means our technicians are constantly being trained in the latest auto body repair techniques. We have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and 100% approval ratings for customer satisfaction and repair cycle time from American Family Insurance. We’re also a preferred shop for most major insurance companies because they know the work will be done quickly and correctly.
Need a quick estimate? Visit our website and request one free online or stop by our convenient Sussex, WI location. We proudly service the Waukesha County and surrounding Lake Country areas, including Pewaukee, Hartland, Delafield, and Oconomowoc.