It is embarrassing enough to have to make wounded animal noises to impersonate your car’s mysterious complaints without an unprofessional mechanic stifling a grin. The point here is, you need a good guy (or gal) for a mechanic—someone who will listen sincerely to your car’s saga, perform professional work, and charge you a reasonable amount for the repair.
Your vehicle is one of your most valuable assets because it gets you where you need to go. When you run into car trouble, and you know very little about how to fix it yourself, you are in an exceptionally vulnerable position if you can’t trust your mechanic.
Most mechanics take pride in their work and want to be the best that they can be, but unfortunately, there are a few bad apples who take advantage of their unknowledgeable customers.
If you’re on the lookout for a mechanic who will take good care of you and your vehicle, here are some key qualities to watch out for as you shop around.
A trustworthy mechanic…
Gone are the days when the average person could pop their hood and heal their own vehicle. Nowadays, cars and trucks have sensors, computers, and wires – oh my! With all of this technology comes updates, bug fixes, and other constant changes so your mechanic needs to stay current. He or she should know how to read and diagnose system errors for a variety of vehicles and be able to find the appropriate fixes quickly and accurately.
When you have to take your vehicle in for maintenance, it’s rare to hear good news where your wallet is concerned. A good mechanic should know how to communicate the problem in a clear, empathetic yet professional tone. If there are options, they should be presented with equal weight and meet the customer’s needs without always emphasizing the most profitable choice.
You should also watch how your mechanic interacts with his or her team members. A good mechanic should have excellent customer service skills but also superb interpersonal skills. Your mechanic should exhibit leadership qualities but not be afraid to learn something from another mechanic.
It isn’t a requirement to have certification in order to be a mechanic, but it’s what sets some mechanics apart from others. Look for a mechanic that has both experience and certifications.
Some skills can only come through experience. Think about it: an exceptional mechanic needs to know how to diagnose and repair all different kinds of vehicles ranging from early ‘50s Mustangs to a run-down 1980s Jetta to a state-of-the-art Hummer. The longer a mechanic has been around the car lift, the more they will probably know about your particular vehicle. Experience doesn’t necessarily only come with age, however, so keep that in mind as you choose your mechanic. If your mechanic is a go-getter, they may put in a lot of time outside of the garage learning as much as they can about different types of cars and their respective repairs.
Which brings us to the second thing that makes a mechanic qualified: certification. Times and techniques are constantly changing in the auto-repair industry, so a mechanic who shows the initiative to get additional certifications is a stand-out candidate for working on your car. One particular line of certifications is known as Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This is divided into different kinds of vehicles and then further divided into categories like engine repair, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical systems, automatic transmission, manual drive, heating and A/C, and engine performance. Once a mechanic has taken all of those certification courses, he or she can take a test for a master certification through ASE. Beyond that, a mechanic can earn additional, supplementary certifications to hone their previous skills. They can also get manufacturer-specific certifications that show that they are qualified to work in-depth on a particular brand of vehicle.
This part works hand-in-hand with the previous one, but it is a little different. There is an element of natural talent and learned skill that accompanies a really good mechanic. An exceptional mechanic will take the time to ask more advanced mechanics questions and apply their answers to different situations. They will work outside of the garage to understand the various sounds a vehicle can make and what they mean. They won’t be the kind of mechanic to snicker as you try screech out “vvrrrrrrrPP PP PP PP errrrrrrRRRRRR paaaah” in an attempt to impersonate your car. An excellent mechanic will go above and beyond to learn and apply the appropriate mechanical skills to become as accurate and efficient as possible.
…works hard and efficiently.
This quality may be best assessed by reading a mechanic’s online reviews. If you see a lot of 5-star ratings and read about top quality work, this may be the mechanic for you. If reviews are lukewarm or worse, keep shopping. Also, if you see a lot of cars in the lot without much turnover and mechanics wandering around or getting off-task, you may want to look elsewhere for service.
…is organized and well-supplied.
It’s inevitable that a mechanic may have to order a part for you depending on your situation, but they should have most of the standard parts and tools in stock or easily accessible. Take a quick look around their shop and take note of tools laying around on shelves or the floor. A mechanic who is disorganized with his or her tools and equipment is bound to be disorganized with your car and other sensitive information, so steer clear.
Shop around and ask for recommendations from trusted friends. If a mechanic diagnoses your car and the report doesn’t sound right, don’t be afraid to get second or third opinions before you commit. Your quality of life is far higher when you have wheels you can depend on, so your car care decisions should not be taken lightly.