Many of us wait until our car is billowing smoke, or dead on the shoulder of the 405 freeway to pick a mechanic. You might as well get caught with your pants down.
It’s important to stick to a schedule of routine maintenance, but there will always be unforseen circumstances when dealing with transportation. Plan for unfortunate events and take your time to pick a mechanic the right way.
Do a quick background check
No matter where you choose to take your car for maintenance, routine or otherwise you should at least do this minimum amount of research first, do a background check.
Always check with the Better Business Bureau first. Any outfit with negative reports filed should be avoided without question, there are too many options out there.
You can also check out the The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website which offers a search feature for finding service stations the institute endorses.
Finally, there is always the advice of AAA, enter your zip code and they will help guide you towards a shop they have tested and approved.
Everyone knows what it feels like to visit the service department of a dealership. You sacrifice your Saturday morning or your lunch break to keep your car maintained and you get no love.
The strongest point in favor of dealership mechanics is that they work specifically with your brand every day. In short, they specialize.
Chances are they will be able to troubleshoot with ease and have quick solutions for problems that might boggle one who isn’t familiar with the brand. Whether or not they recognize and apply this knowledge in a timely manner depends on your specific dealership and the mechanics it employs.
Dealerships are also notorious for being the priciest option. Paying for the specialized knowledge makes the labor more expensive, and parts tend to cost more.
Utilizing the idea of brand dependancy, the dealers pressure their customers to stick to an aggressive maintenance schedule, which means you end up sacrificing more Saturday mornings and lunch breaks than you really need to.
Everyone is busy, and instant lube joints have a quick and easy appeal. The question is this: how safe is it to entrust your transport to a shop where being fast is in their mission statement?
It’s a fair question, and the research found lots of reviews saying bad things about these services, of the Jiffy Lube chain in specific.
Reviews seem to follow trends and focus mainly on the issue of payment for services that were not rendered. Many didn’t realize their cars were not being properly serviced until the lack thereof caused damage to their vehicle.
On the flip side, imagine how many instant lube shops there are across the country, they can’t all be bad or they would have no customers. They provide a fast, convenient service and offer many locations.
In the end they are not as fast and convenient as their mission statement would have you believe. The truth is, these instant lube shops require research just like any other mechanic.
With proper research chain stores offer an affordable way to maintain your vehicle. Just be sure to:
Small neighborhood shops
Like the above two options, there are pros and cons to the smaller mom and pop type shops. Word of mouth goes a long way when it comes to this option, and should you choose this route it should be based on a recommendation.
Consult friends and family, and ask your favorite auto parts store for help in finding local shops with good reputations.
Neighborhood shops can also be gems. A good one is worth its weight in gold and offers more personalized service without corporate strings.
Their main drawback being a lack of general marketing, generally these shops are located by blind luck on a random reference. Keep your ears open for them.