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Home » Auto Ownership

How to Find a Good Mechanic who will Save you Money

Last updated by on March 16, 2016

Finding a Good Car Mechanic

One of the most under-appreciated professions out there is that of an auto mechanic. How many people do you meet in your life that have such an impact on you and your family’s safety as well as your finances? A good, trustworthy mechanic can save you a ton of money in the long run. Unfortunately, a good auto mechanic can be hard to come by. Here are some pointers on how to find them.

Where Should I Take my Car?

You generally have three options. Large national chains and dealerships are two options. They typically have revenue goals in mind and this can create conflict of interest when they look at your vehicle. Small issues or issues that can wait become urgent matters that you should attend to in their opinion. You’ll rarely be able to meet the guy working on your car, and forget discussing your car with the mechanic.

For anything more than an oil change, locally owned, independent garages are the way to go. And by all means, avoid dealerships, unless your vehicle is still under warranty.

The Local Mechanic Advantage

how to find a good mechanicLocal mechanics have their reputation at stake and know that the key to their success against the giant chains is to build long-term relationships with their customers. The guy working on your vehicle may be the owner or he works closely with the owner. They get to know your vehicle inside and out over time, and you’ll always be able to discuss your vehicle’s health with them.

Additionally, with a local mechanic, you are keeping more of your money local. When it comes to expenses, you’ll probably find that their prices are typically as good or better than some of the national chains. The only problem with local mechanics is that word-of-mouth and drive by traffic are typically their only forms of advertisement, so they can be hard to find at times. The good ones don’t need paid advertisement because they retain all of their customers.

How to Find a Good Local Auto Mechanic

There are a number of ways to find a good local mechanic.

  • Ask your friends or neighbors if they know of a good local mechanic. If you start to hear a name pop up consistently, you might be on to something.
  • Check with local car enthusiasts at auto shows or find local members of a car club and see who they recommend.
  • See if your local newspaper does a ‘best of town’ series. Many times auto mechanics are covered.
  • Check out’s Mechanics Files. is run by NPR. You plug in your zip code and get ratings for mechanics in your area. Mechanics are rated on honesty, competence, price, speed, the job they do, and more.
  • Look at the reviews in Google Maps or in Angies List.

Price out the Work Before Getting the Job Done

A good mechanic is one who doesn’t rip you off. Therefore, it’s wise to price out a particular job from a number of sources BEFORE you get the work done by a mechanic. You need to know if you are getting a good and honest quote.

You can start by using the the RepairPal,, or Napa repair estimator tools. These tools will give you some good baseline estimates for repair work.

After getting these estimates online, you can begin calling around to the different shops that you’ve selected to call. Always get your estimates in writing before authorizing the work.

How do I know if I’ve Found a Good Auto Mechanic?

Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you’ve found a good mechanic or not.

  1. What are their affiliations and certifications? Are their mechanics registered with the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)? Are they affiliated with other trade associations such as the Automotive Service Association (ASA) or American Automobile Association (AAA)? If they are, it’s not a guarantee of a solid operation, but these associations typically require a certain amount of training for mechanics in order for the business to achieve affiliation. It’s a good place to start.
  2. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for customer complaints.
  3. Check review sites such as Google Maps and NPR’s Mechanics Files to see what people say about the business.
  4. What is their warranty policy? The longer the better (unless you’re paying for extending it). Is it only on parts, or does it also include labor?
  5. Does the mechanic give you options that you can choose from that will save you money? This is a sure sign of an honest mechanic.
  6. Will they let you watch while they work? Good mechanics aren’t afraid to let you sit nearby to see the quality and speed at which they work.
  7. Are they friendly, helpful, and not irritated by your questions? A good mechanic typically has an enthusiasm or excitement towards educating their customers about their vehicles. If you’ve run into a jerk who doesn’t want to discuss things with you, go elsewhere.
  8. Is the shop organized and clean? Good mechanics and management typically have a clean shop as it is an extension of the work that they do.
  9. Talk to them and build a relationship.

Following this list, you’ll know when you’ve found a good mechanic.

How I Knew I Found a Good Mechanic

For the first time in my new area of residence I had to find a mechanic. I visited the Cartalk website and looked for local mechanics. Fortunately, I had many to choose from nearby. A few of the mechanics had a large number of comments. I looked through them and found one that had comments like “I moved 2,000 miles away, but considered driving back so that he could look at my car”, “I was worried he wasn’t charging enough to keep his business going”, and “I’ll take my car to him until one of us dies”. This was good enough for me to call make the call and set up the appointment.

When I got there I was happy to see that I could sit 10 feet away from the mechanic while he worked. He was able to give me pointers and discuss things with me while he was working on the vehicle. He gave me an option between $20 and $150 fix to an issue and urged me towards the $20 fix. He also was able to determine the cause of a noise on the underside of my car that had plagued me for two years (and fixed it for free). All costs were laid out and explained prior to him starting work. He was friendly, efficient, and the price was affordable. Not only will I go back, but I’ll recommend him to others.

Finding a Good Auto Mechanic Discussion:

  • How were you able to find a good mechanic?
  • What is your best experience with a mechanic?
  • What is your worst experience with a mechanic?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Craig says:

    Thanks for the site, I had a good local mechanic but have moved and need to find a new one in my town. I agree a local mechanic is the way to go. My car had problems over the summer that required me to go a few times and they really got to not just know my car, but know me to. I like that personal relationship you don’t get at the larger chains.


  • stephanie says:

    I really appreciate the advice in this article. I moved to a new town a little over a year ago, and decided to take my car in to be serviced at a Firestone shop in town. They gave me a list with over $1,500 in recommended repairs/replacements, but said most of them were based on mileage (and probably not really necessary). I think when I am “home” over the holidays, I will take my car in to the (local) mechanic my dad takes his vehicles to for a second opinion. Also, my car has to pass a state inspection in order to get my license plates renewed in January, so I might just wait and see what (if anything) is needed to pass that inspection!

  • Dollars To Riches says:

    I’ve never been much good with cars, I’m more of a computer guy, so this article is very informative to me. I’m just glad you took the time to try and make a quality guide for people like me who don’t know a piston from a gasket. I feel like the next time I take my car in for some work I will be better prepared to get a good deal. Thanks for the help.

  • Marie Noonan says:

    Try this Website as we phone around for the best price on all your Car Repairs & Servicing from our list of Approved Car Garages withing the uk.

  • Car Servicing says:

    Try this Website as we phone around for the best price on all your Car Repairs & Servicing from our list of Approved Car Garages within the uk.

  • Pedro Talavera says:

    Very informative article. I want to sugest these places for people trying to find good service providers.


    Thanks for your article.
    Pedro Talavera.

  • Mobile Car Mechanic says:

    Thats definitely some good advice.Any garage or mechanic that is not up front with its prices on car repair or servicing has got something to hide.Always ask as many questions you can,again if the answers are short you know this is not the right garage for you

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks for the article and I used cartalk also to find my new mechanic and I am in love. (no homo)

  • Chris says:

    Hi G.E. Miller,

    You raise some great points in this article regarding the importance of finding a trustworthy and reliable mechanic (too many people settle for a mechanic based on convenience, which isn’t always the best option, especially when wanting a high quality and cost effective mechanic). I have actually just created an infographic on the do’s and don’t’s of choosing a mechanic. Let me know if you would like to see it.

    Cheers, Chris

  • Dayomom says:

    This is extremely helpful!!!
    Thank you for the wonderful tips.

  • Cal Driver says:

    Thanks so much for this! It’s been touch and go finding a good mechanic, so these tips are gold. I never considered that friendliness and overall appreciation for their job is a good indicator of quality and professionalism. This might be completely wrong, but I feel like people who like their jobs are more likely to be honest. Great information!

  • Nash Rich says:

    I like how this talks about finding local mechanics that you can trust. For a long time we had our neighbor that we were good friends with check out our cars and fix issues they had. It was nice because we knew he wouldn’t rip us off and we knew he was a good guy, overall. He would also give us deals because we would share some of our farm produce with him. Eventually he had the business of our whole neighborhood. So I think overall it helps to get to know who people and about their lives and you can share services.

  • Kayla Rogers says:

    I think looking through the comments is a great way to tell how dedicated your auto shop is to your car. However, I do sometimes take off-the-wall comments with a grain of salt. I know some people just can’t be pleased, but if there are a lot of comments about how good they are, it is probably a pretty good sign.

  • Bob Lowe says:

    Thanks for your post. I think these are all really useful tips. One of the questions you posted was to ask yourself if the mechanic gives you options to choose from. I think that’s a great tip. Often they will just tell you how it is because I think they do know what is best. However, sometimes I find I cant pay for such services and need to find an alternative to getting my car back on the road.

  • Paul Langley says:

    This is some really great advice for anyone looking for a great mechanic in their area. I like that you started with referrals, as they’re a great way to find any sort of product or service, and they’re likely one you can trust, because others have trusted. And looking up affiliations and the like is another great way to make sure you can trust a mechanic. Thanks so much for writing!

  • Kenneth Gladman says:

    I love that you mentioned you were able to watch your mechanic fix your car. I like that he gave you options as well, a sign of a good honest mechanic. I have never been able to fix my own cars so it is nice to know I’m not paying for things I don’t need.

  • Judy Wilson says:

    Thanks for going through this checklist of things to look for in a mechanic. I’ve been on the lookout for a good car repair service for years, so it will help me to have a list of criteria that will point me to a good technician. Going to a repair service that’s helpful and happy to answer my questions seems like a good indicator that I’ve found someone trustworthy to work on my car. I’ll also check if they would allow me to be in a waiting area where I can watch them repair my car, since that would indicate they feel comfortable with me knowing exactly what they’re doing to work on it.

  • Jorge McMillan says:

    The whole owning and driving a car thing is something that I’m not used to and am fairly new at. With that being the case, I honestly have no idea how to go about getting my car fixed if it ever breaks down. This helped me a ton and I hope to find a local mechanic that will work hard to make sure that my car is well taken care of so that their rep stays at a good place.

  • Silas Knight says:

    I have always known it’s really important to find a good mechanic. It makes sense that a local mechanic would be best, I prefer them. From my experience, you’re right, their prices are as good or better than bigger chains.


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