Quality is not an act, it is a habit. –Aristotle
If you’re like most people, you hate visiting the dentist, doctor, and car mechanic. The reason for this is relatively simple as well; all three can cost you a fortune and all three are so specialized that upon their recommendation, all you can do is trust their judgment and professionalism. Most people would rather not skimp on cost when visiting a dentist or doctor purely to ensure they receive quality attention for their ailments. However when it comes to fixing your vehicles ailments, many people go the extra mile and beyond at times to save a few dollars.
This might mean repairing your vehicle with lower quality components, or worse yet, having your vehicle serviced by cheap, neglectful, dishonest, and inexperienced mechanics. Next time, before taking your vehicle in for repairs or servicing, understand these simple principles as to why a quality mechanic is better than a cheap one.
Cost Often Does Equal Quality
It may not be 100% accurate, but overall, the higher the cost of something, the greater the quality that thing should have. This goes for products as well as services. If you visit two repair shops and both are able to find the same problem with your vehicle and offer the exact same solution with varying costs associated. You shouldn’t immediately choose the cheapest option.
Why is it cheaper? What aren’t you receiving that you would be giving up by not going to the more expensive shop? Better customer service? Better attention to detail? Do they have other mechanics do a once over to check work completed? Are the components they are using for repairs the same brand? Are you forgoing warranties?
Really there are a great number of questions you should ask yourself before choosing the correct mechanic to fix your vehicle. Even the simplest automotive components can be installed incorrectly, which can well cost you more money down the road. Brake pads, windshield wipers, lights, batteries, etc. These are mostly relatively inexpensive already, but when you get into transmission repairs, suspension replacements, and anything that is wrong internally with the engine, you can be looking at a hefty bill.
The last point to make is with a higher cost should come greater trust. Trust that you aren’t being lied to or taken advantage of. Being shown dirty air filters that aren’t yours, refilling fluids that don’t need it. Question everything, and remember that even if the cost is higher that doesn’t mean they are entirely honest. It’s only an indicator.
Understand Trust Isn’t Given, It’s Earned
The greatest sign that any business is trusted by their customers is that of repeat business. If you weren’t happy with the service the first time around, chances are you wouldn’t return. Customer loyalty is hard to keep though it may be easy to come by. You may choose to return somewhere because it’s close to home, the employees are nice, or you know someone that works there.
But given one instance of poor service and that customer can be lost forever. As such, if you notice a shop that seems to have a lot of business coming in and out, that should generally be a good sign, especially if any of them seem to be repeat customers.
That said, you still shouldn’t trust any automotive shop up front and always remain skeptical. If a mechanic claims something is broken or needs repairs, ask to be shown exactly what that is. Ask to see the worn out brakes, broken strut, or filthy filter. Also, don’t immediately trust a mechanic knows what the problem is, especially if it is an expensive fix. Be sure to have a second or even third opinion afterwards if possible. Do whatever you can do to keep them honest and remember that your trust is not given and must be earned.
Use a Recommended or Certified Mechanic Shop
Beyond repeat and loyal customers, the best way to determine whether a shop is trustworthy is to either ask friends and family or search specifically for certified mechanic shops. Your friends and family will not likely lead you astray, even though sadly you can’t outright trust their opinion either as they may have been unknowingly bamboozled.
However if a business is certified by a manufacturer, has won any local, regional, or national awards, or is recognized by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), these are all great indicators of quality. You will most likely notice in cheaper shops these accolades will be absent. Furthermore, you can read forums and reviews of local shops to see what customers have said. This is especially important when reading reviews of people who have serviced similar cars as a shop may simply not understand certain brands.
It should be mentioned though that when reading online reviews, you have to keep in mind few people will actually give good reviews because well, they have nothing to complain about and therefore are not driven to action. Whereas those who have had a poor experience are more than willing to spend their time expressing their negative opinion as they feel wronged.
Not Every Mechanic Can Work On Every Vehicle Type
Keep in mind that not all mechanics are created equally and the knowledge they possess changes dramatically from one to another. Some may understand sports cars, another antiques, while another off-road trucks. So if you have any sort of specialized vehicle, such as a hybrid or electric for example, be careful where you take your vehicle. Because Joe Shmoe down the street should not be trusted to work on your Ferrari, Tesla, or old Ford Model T.
Back to our comparison to doctors and dentists; think of how many are specialized in certain areas. Whether it’s an orthodontist, prosthodontist, endodontist, pediatricians, neurosurgeon, or pulmonologist, they are all dentists and doctors, but none deal in the same things whatsoever. The same holds true for vehicles and is important to keep in mind. For transmission repairs, best name in the game is AAMCO.
For tires there is Big-O Tires, and even brakes has Meineke. Point being, not all mechanics nor shops are created equally or for the same purpose. Be sure you choose wisely and correctly next time you have to take your vehicle in, and here’s to your happy hunting’s!
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The author of this piece is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this article you can follow me on Twitter @CustParadigm. When I’m not writing about mechanics and automotive shops, I can generally be found reading up on cars in general to keep my knowledge up to date and accurate. Cause I love cars.