5 Ways to Spot a Bad Mechanic
Use these helpful tips to find the repair shop that's right for you.
Web2Carz Staff Writer
Published: September 22nd, 2012
ou might have an old, rusty car that only starts a few days a week or you might be driving a shiny, new sedan, but everyone’s car breaks down eventually. And there are a lot of mechanics out there who want your business when your car does finally need repairing.
Unfortunately, not all mechanics have the consumer’s best interests in mind. Here’s a list of things to look for when shopping for a mechanic.
The Confusing Conversation
The mechanic should be able to easily explain the problem with your car and the procedure to the point where you’re no longer confused, regardless of how much you know about cars. Don’t pretend you know what the mechanic is talking about just to stop the conversation. Understand what happened to your car and what needs to be done.
“Some mechanics will use big words on purpose to not only show they know more than the customer, but to confuse the customer,” said Greg Wiggleton, a mechanic at Firestone in Johnsburg, IL. “Usually, they really don’t know what they’re saying. Chances are they’re making it up, doing work that isn’t needed and charging the customer.”
The Abandoned Car
Look around the mechanic’s lot for cars that look like they’ve been sitting, unrepaired, for a long time. Those cars aren’t benefitting the owner of the shop, so why would they allow the cars to clutter up their business? Are those cars there because the owners of the cars couldn’t afford their repair bill? Or was the shop not able to repair them? Either way, it’s not a good sign for the consumer.
The Clean Shop
How clean or dirty is the repair shop? Because of the nature of the business, garages aren’t going to be as clean as a doctor’s office. But there should be some order to the shop. Tools should be put away when not in use and the floor of the garage shouldn’t have oil slicks.
“Cleanliness is important,” Wiggleton said. “Of course, we do get dirty. But the overall shop is clean and we put things away when we’re done.”
The Guaranteed Part
Whether it’s the brakes, muffler, or transmission, the parts used to repair your car should be guaranteed for at least 30 days. Reputable mechanics will explain which parts are guaranteed and for how long. If a mechanic doesn’t guarantee the parts there’s a good chance he’s using refurbished parts, at best. He might be using parts he took from another car that he worked on.
The Scare Tactic
Don’t allow a mechanic to scare you into repairing your car. If your car’s brakes just started squeaking, you still have a day or two of driving before you’re in harm’s way. There’s a chirper tab on brakes built in for safety reasons which squeaks to warn you that your brake pads need to be replaced. Don’t let yourself get talked into repairs from a shop just because you happen to be there.
“If you don’t trust the mechanic and you’re not comfortable driving the car, have it towed to someone you do trust or to your home,” Wiggleton said. “A lot of places know if they scare the customer into thinking they can’t leave the lot without risking their life they can charge whatever they want.”