Most Australians are wary of being ripped off by mechanics. And for good reason.
While there are plenty of honest, reliable and trustworthy mechanics in the industry, there are also plenty of unscrupulous operators just out to make a buck. The automotive repair industry is, unfortunately, rife with up selling and over billing. So, if you think you’re being overcharged or up sold a service you don’t need, chances are you’re right.
Unless you happen to have a pretty high level of mechanical skill and a fully equipped workshop, you will need a mechanic to keep your car on the road. So, the question is: How do you find a mechanic you can trust?
Well, we have some tips to help you find a great mechanic you can trust. And once you find one that does right by you, your car and your wallet, you hold on forever.
Trust word of mouth
Vehicle mechanics are one of those trades where word of mouth is particularly important. The first step to finding a reliable mechanic is talking to people you know and trust. Talk to friends, family, work colleagues – anyone whose opinion you trust. Look for people who have longstanding positive relationships with their mechanics.
When getting recommendations, it can also help to dive a little deeper, rather than just getting a name. Be prepared to ask some questions. Why are you recommending this mechanic? Were you up sold on any parts or service? Were there any delays? How was the customer service? Did you look at any other mechanics or get other quotes?
Remember, a recommendation is a pretty subjective thing. One person’s great experience is another person’s one-star Google review. Get some context for the recommendation before take them at their word.
Read online reviews
Online reviews can be another great way to check a mechanic’s credentials. Look for reviews on Google, social media and sites like True Local. However, it’s important to remember that online reviews are only valuable in bulk. One or two positive or negative reviews won’t be enough to tell you anything reliable.
Look for a mechanic with a lot of reviews that are consistently good. But be prepared to cut them some slack. Every business will get a few bad reviews from a few disgruntled cranks. But even these bad reviews can be valuable. See if the mechanic responds to their negative reviews in a friendly and helpful way. A bad review with a timely and positive response can actually be a good thing for the business. It means they take their work and their customer service seriously and want to fix any problems immediately. On the other hand, if they’re responding to bad reviews in an accusatory, confrontational or rude way, that’s a huge red flag.
If everything’s urgent, then nothing is urgent
If your mechanic is telling you that everything is urgent and everything absolutely has to be fixed right now, then that’s not a positive sign. A good mechanic will identify the issues and clearly prioritise them based on urgency. They will let you know how long a particular issue can be ignored before it becomes a priority.
A good mechanic will also point out general wear and tear, like your brake pads wearing down. They will let you know how much longer you can expect to get reliable service from the parts before you will need to replace them.
Instead of just telling you that work needs to be down, a trustworthy mechanic will provide time frames for when the work should ideally be done without pressuring you to get it all done straight away.
Get clear estimates
A good mechanic will provide up-front estimates for parts and labour before starting any work. And the final bill shouldn’t deviate much from the estimate. Of course, sometimes additional work outside the scope of the initial estimate will come up during repairs. In this case, a good mechanic will always contact you, explain the additional work, add an additional estimate and get your approval before doing any other work.
Be wary of any mechanic that won’t provide an up-front estimate. Also, if your final bill is more than the initial estimate, this is generally a pretty bad sign.
Passion and communication
A good mechanic will be passionate about what they do. They will be able to talk cars all day. They will have a story for everything, know the ins and outs of every vehicle that comes into their shop, and want only the best for your car. If you have a mechanic that doesn’t seem interested or doesn’t seem to know your car, beware.
While passion and enthusiasm are great, a good mechanic also needs to be a good communicator. About 90% of the time, your mechanic will be talking to people who know less about cars than they do. But they will be able to (and be willing to take the time to) explain the repair work in a way that a layperson will understand. If your mechanic can’t, or won’t, clearly explain what’s wrong with your car, you should look for someone else.
A client’s first impression is hugely important for any place of business. And a mechanic’s workshop is no exception. It should be clean, tidy and organised. Customer service should be prompt and friendly. All mechanics and service staff should be presentable and acting professionally at all times.
If you see a messy, disorganised workshop with staff acting unprofessionally you should consider if this is the right mechanic for you.
The full service package
If you’ve already taken your car in for a service, there are plenty of things to look for when you get your car back. First and foremost: Is everything fixed and working properly? If they can’t get that right, what hope is there?
Some other post-repair and service questions to ask include: Did you get a fully itemised invoice that matches the estimates and agreed-on scope of the work? Is your car clean inside and out? Were there any delays? Did they provide a warranty on parts and labour?
Finding a good mechanic will help keep your car in pristine running condition, increasing its lifespan and enhancing its resale value. It will also help to take the stress out of car repairs.