You’ve found yourself a decent second hand car and you’ve made a promise to yourself to keep it in the tiptop condition that is now. That means regular servicing and addressing any little niggles as and when they may arise, but how do you go about finding a decent mechanic when you wouldn’t know one if they waved a spanner at you? Our 6 tips will help you out:
1) Have an idea of the problem
Before you begin your search it is always a good idea to do a little homework first in order to try and find out what the problem with your car is. If you are just after a simple service or an MOT, sites like Book My Garage are ideal.
However, if it is a specific issue try searching the dozens of car forums and owners sites online and ask the members there about the symptoms your motor is experiencing.
People are generally very helpful on these sites and they will give you a rough idea of what might be wrong and a ballpark figure on repair costs. Being armed with a little knowledge will go a long way to weeding out the cowboys.
2) Visit the garage wherever possible
Nothing beats popping into the garage to get an idea on whether or not they are reputable. Many people mistakenly believe that all garages are messy, unkempt places but this is misleading assumption. A tidy garage will give you a fair idea about how much pride the owner takes in his or her business and will be a good indication on how they operate as a mechanic too.
3) Ask questions up front
Enquire about things such as free diagnosis and whether or not they charge by the hour. Garages differ on things such as these so it’s worth knowing how they operate before you proceed. If the mechanic does charge by the hour be sure to ask how long they think a particular job will take and then set a maximum work time. This will prevent you from receiving a phone call stating that they have been working all day on your car and it still is not fixed!
4) What parts?
It is always worth asking if the garage will use generic parts on your car or if they stick to manufacturer parts. If the use of generic parts is an issue for you, it is important that you know which will be used prior to work commencing.
5) Get some quotes
Once you’ve found a few garages that meet all of your criteria you can move on to getting quotes. Prices can vary hugely between mechanics, even if they are only a few streets away from each other. Knowing what the fault is (see point 1) will help you obtain more accurate quotes and save a lot of guesswork. Also, be sure to ask if VAT is included in the price stated. Finding this out when the work is done can come as a nasty shock.
6) Ask to stay and watch them work
Now that you have a quote that you are happy with, ask to watch them as they carry out the work. Many garages do not mind if you stick around while the work is being carried out and it will give you a good idea about their own confidence in their ability too.
Following these 6 tips will stand you in good stead next time you need to find a reputable mechanic. Remember, however, that prevention is better than cure, so do all that you can to stop problems arising by doing as much maintenance as you can at home.