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Tips on Finding the Most Reliable Mechanic for Your Car Collection

By Ryan Wegman
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Tips on Finding the Most Reliable Mechanic for Your Car Collection

When your garage is home to an extensive car collection, you need a reliable mechanic taking good care of it and protecting your investment. Failing to maintain your vehicles can have a detrimental impact on their value over time. It’s one of the main reasons why pre-owned, classic vehicle sellers don’t receive the offers they anticipated. Taking great care of your car, including using the best indoor car covers for classic cars, prolongs its lifespan. It prevents scratching, denting, or mechanical issues that contribute to depreciation.

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A well-serviced car also boosts your safety on the road. Changing oil, checking brakes, and ensuring that your vehicles have no underlying issues are some of the safety concerns that merit your serious consideration. You should also maintain your car to lower operational costs. Having minor vehicle issues diagnosed and fixed in time eliminates or minimizes the costs of fixing significant problems later. Regardless of your knowledge of car engines, only a qualified and reputable mechanic can take great care of your cars, ensuring their safety, efficiency, and long-term value. Here are several important considerations when selecting a mechanic for your car collection.

  1. Does Your Car Need Repairs or Maintenance?

    Decide whether you need your mechanic to perform routine maintenance or repair an automobile problem. There's an essential difference between the two. With regular maintenance, the mechanic will be looking at issues contained in your vehicle's service schedule. These items require routine servicing to keep your car in good working order.

    • Where to Go for Routine Servicing
      Any reputable dealership near you should have mechanics that can do a great job with scheduled maintenance. You don't have to go to the dealership that sold you the car. Just be sure that the auto shop has appropriately trained and certified experts for your model's service requirements.
      The service department of a reliable dealership should also have the right automotive diagnostic equipment and software for your car type, including cutting-edge digital systems that plug into cars to highlight problems with pinpoint accuracy. Automatic vehicle diagnostics enhance the chance of getting the solution right the first time.
    • Where to Go for Repair
      Changing oil or checking if the braking system is in excellent working condition is one thing, and any auto shop may have the right mechanics for the job. However, fixing a problem with the engine or gear system is a different matter altogether. You may need to engage a specialist mechanic qualified to work with your car model and experience electrical systems and transmission issues. Contact the dealership where you bought the car for recommendations for specialist mechanics near you.
      Don't forget to take your car's warranty into account when selecting where to take your vehicle for repair. You have the legal right to service your automobile wherever you want without invalidating your warranty. However, check whether the fine print dictates that you take the car to a specific dealership for covered repairs.

  2. Look Up Top Mechanics on the Web

    An internet search for a good mechanic can provide invaluable information to help you make the right selection. However, you may need to do more than a broad search for car repair services in your area, especially if you need specifics and trusted reviews to make an informed choice. Here are two places to begin your online search for a top mechanic:
    • The Consumer Reports' Car Repair Assistant Tool
      The Consumer Reports website's Car Repair Assistant page has a straightforward user interface to help you find a good mechanic. Click on the “Find a Shop” tab to search for a certified auto repair shop. Supply your ZIP code and click on the “Find a Shop” button for a list of trustworthy local mechanics in your local area. The Car Repair Assistant tool can also calculate a repair estimate based on your ZIP and car's make, model, and required fixes.
    • CarTalk's Mechanics Files
      Mechanics Files is a useful resource when you're starting your search for a mechanic from scratch. It'll give you names of trusted auto repair shops in your city or state. You can also search based on your ZIP code and the make of your car. The site has over 30,000 reviews to help you assess the reliability of any mechanic before hiring them. In case a friend or workmate recommended an auto shop to you, just go to Mechanics Files and type the shop's name. See what previous customers have to say about it, and then make an informed choice.

  3. Is Your Preferred Mechanic ASE-Certified?

    Choose a technician with The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification for the peace of mind that your car is in good hands. Only mechanics with proven competence in a specific auto repair area can have an ASE certificate. Consider these points when looking for one:
    • Up-to-Date Certification
      An ASE certificate is only valid for five years. Upon expiry, the holder must retake a recertification test to validate their credentials. Confirm that your preferred mechanic has updated their qualifications to guarantee that their skills and expertise cater to your auto repair needs.
    • Check Area of Specialization
      Automobile repair is an extensive field and, as such, not every ASE-certified technician is a specialist in your area of interest. For example, you need to go to a mechanic with ASE Collision Repair and Refinish certification for work like car detailing, painting, structural or non-structural analysis, and damage repair. If your car needs specialized repair work, pick an expert with the relevant ASE credentials.

    • Check for the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence
      Keep in mind that an auto repair service may display the ASE sign even when only one of their mechanics has an ASE certificate. However, the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence recognition is an important distinction worth considering. Shops displaying it guarantee top-quality service because they hire the most qualified technicians, support their employees' training, and insist on using the latest equipment.
      ASE bestows this recognition to auto repair shops with 75% of their diagnostics and repair mechanics ASE certified. You can walk into a dealership or fleet garage with the blue seal, confident that each of its service specialties has at least one ASE-certified technician.
  4. Consider a Manufacturer-Certified Mechanic

    Some mechanics have the training and skills to work on a particular brand of cars. Their certification indicates that they have the expertise to fix and maintain specific makes of vehicles using genuine parts. These technicians usually work in auto repair shops or dealerships that offer state-of-the-art diagnostics and tools to give customers superior experiences.
    Different brands, from Ford, Honda, and Volvo to GM, Toyota, and Mercedes Benz, have such mechanic training and certification programs. Technicians with these qualifications are an excellent option when you need to engage someone specializing in your car model. The benefits of going to a manufacturer-certified mechanic include:
    • Relevant experience: The mechanic repairs cars like yours day in day out, giving you confidence that they have successfully resolved an extensive range of faults—some of which could be the cause of your vehicle’s problem.
    • Up-to-date training: A manufacturer-certified mechanic has up-to-date training and access to the latest tools.
    • Access to genuine parts: These technicians work in auto shops that stock only genuine auto parts.
    Specialized and certified technicians are more expensive than their standard counterparts. However, they’re an option that gives you greater peace of mind when you need a complicated fault diagnosed and fixed.

  5. Check the Auto Repair Shop’s BBB Business Profile

    Your preferred auto dealership may be ASE-certified, but that’s no guarantee that they always offer the level of professionalism you expect. So, it helps to look at the dealership’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile to learn about the shop’s accreditation status and industry reputation. Be sure to read BBB reviews and consumer complaints. You may also use the platform’s Auto Repair page to search for a BBB-accredited mechanic in your city, state, or zip.
    A BBB-accredited auto repair service has a BBB badge with the label “Accredited Business.” To the right of the badge, look for the assigned rating. “A+” is the highest rating reserved for the most trustworthy and competent mechanics on the BBB website. “F” is the lowest, while NR or no rating indicates that the mechanic is undergoing an evaluation or there’s insufficient information to provide an accurate assessment. Not all auto dealerships available through a BBB search are accredited. You have to enable the “Show BBB Accredited only” option to filter out non-accredited auto shops.
  6. Interview One or Two Potential Auto Repair Shops

    Once you have conducted your research, shortlist a few auto dealerships that stand out from their competitors. Set up an interview, verify credentials and information, and get answers about their qualifications and experience, especially with your type of car collection. If possible, have a conversation about your collection with the technician who may potentially be taking care of your car. Important things requiring clarification include:
    • Whether the mechanic fixing your car is ASE-certified
    • If they use genuine, new, used, or OEM components
    • If they specialize in your type of car
  7. Get a Quote

    A tool like Consumer Report’s “Car Repair Assistant” gives you a rough repair cost estimate. It doesn’t take all details into account, which is why you should ask your prospective mechanic to provide a detailed written estimate. Ensure that you get the following guarantees:
    • Estimate covers all repairs, auto parts, and labor.
    • Contract stipulates the time needed to do the repair work.
    • Confirm the cost of getting the estimate, especially if diagnostics are necessary before working out the estimate.
    • Ask about the cost of diagnostics, taking the vehicle apart, and shop supplies.
    • Confirm the cost of reassembling the car if you decide not to authorize repairs.
    • Get assurances that the mechanic won’t do any extra repair work with additional costs without your express authorization.
    Sign the deal only after reading and understanding the fine print. Seek multiple estimates before making a final decision.
  8. Inquire About Warranties

    Ask the repair shop about warranties/guarantees to boost your confidence in your mechanic’s ability to do a great job the first time. Let the technician clarify each aspect of the repair work that the guarantee covers. They should mention whether they’ll be covering auto components, labor, or both. Any such assurances should be in writing. Also, find out the guarantee’s validity period and whether the terms or provisions are transferable if you sell the car.

  9. Prioritize Preventive Maintenance

    Taking good care of your car helps minimize your trips to the auto repair shop, and it should start in the garage or any other parking space. With the best car covers, you can protect the vehicle from rain, snow, dust, animal droppings, and other factors that can damage its exterior.
    Covers also guard the interior of your vehicle against UV rays and heat from the sun. The dashboard, seats, and even the engine are at risk without adequate UV protection. It’s equally crucial to follow your automobile’s recommended routine maintenance. The car’s manual has the information you need to keep it in good care and reduce the need for repairs. That includes the right type of oil to use and the maximum load the vehicle may tow or carry.

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Wrapping Up

Having the most reputable and competent mechanic take care of your cars’ repair or maintenance issues comes with invaluable peace of mind. You can find such an expert by visiting credible platforms, such as BBB and Consumer Reports. Be sure to read consumer reviews and insist on certification, such as ASE, before hiring anyone. After identifying a prospective mechanic, interview and screen them based on factors such as their specialty, experience, estimates, and warranties.

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Car maintenance and repair is sometimes unavoidable, but preventive care helps to extend your automobile’s lifespan. Covering the car while parked with a durable anti-UV fabric adds a critical protection layer too. At CarCovers.com, we offer custom-fit covers for all types of vehicles.

November 24, 2020
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