Faith, Trust and Cars that Rust
Feel like you're in Neverland?
As many car owners can attest, it can take more than Peter Pan magic to find a trustworthy mechanic. With hundreds of horror stories floating around the internet about being charged for unnecessary work, price differences between customers, or even new damage that didn’t exist before the visit, it isn’t hard to realize that some mechanics are less than professional. The problem is, how do we weed out the bad ones?
Though there is no sure fire way to know, there are three main methods that will definitely help:
Look up online reviews
Read the atmosphere
1. Look Up Online Reviews
This step may seem obvious, but it is often skipped or done half-heartedly. It can help to look on multiple websites like Yelp, Facebook, or FourSquare, just to name a few. It is important to pay attention to the number of reviews (is it two or less?) as well as what the ratio is between good and bad reviews. Even while noting this ratio, take time to read both the bad and the good reviews. You may find that some bad reviews don’t point to a flaw in the company itself, but more circumstantial issues -- take these with a grain of salt. With that being said, if you see some posts contain words like ripoff, sketchy, or condescending steer clear of those companies. Words along those lines raise red flags about the integrity of the shop and shouldn’t be ignored. All in all, remember to do your research, it could (quite literally) save you hundreds.
2. Double Quote
If you are still unsure about the shop, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a little test. First try calling to get a quote on how much a fix would cost for your problem. (For an extra flair have someone else speak on the phone for you. That way they won’t recognize the voice.) After the phone call, the next day if possible, go into the shop ask for a quote. You aren’t required to tell them it was you who called the day before. See if they give the same quote. If they jack it up, or even drop it substantially, you should be concerned about how honest they are about the real price of the transaction.
It is important to note that this test can be inaccurate if, during the second part, the mechanic notices that the problem with your car isn’t exactly what you explained on the phone (ie: you thought the oil needed to be changed but it is actually a more serious problem with the brakes). Be forgiving if this happens, but be careful of a mechanic listing too many problems with your car, especially if they’re pushing you to let them fix it.
3. Read the Atmosphere
This step is often more difficult than the name suggests. It involves reading the auto repair shop’s atmosphere. Do the employees seem happy? Is there more than one in the office? Are they talking to each other? Are they friendly (not just to you)? Are other customers there? Do they seem comfortable being there (recurring customers are a good sign)? All of these questions can let you in on the motives of the shop. Don’t shop somewhere where you feel out of place and not welcome. There are plenty of repair shops, don’t settle.
Overall just remember the three tips offered here -- look up online reviews, double quote, and read the atmosphere -- and don’t be afraid to go to a mechanic. Just as Peter Pan can fly, you to can find a little magic if you look hard enough. Good luck.