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How to Choose a Reliable and Trustworthy Auto Mechanic

The key to excellent car maintenance is to find a mechanic before your car has a problem.

The time to find a good mechanic is not when your car breaks down, or after an accident. In those cases, you'll be pressed for time and may be too stressed out to do the research and make a good decision.

So the time is now, to think about searching for someone you can trust with your car.

Start by asking friends and neighbors for their input. Where do they take their cars for service and repairs? How long have they gone there? What type of relationship do they have with the mechanics there? Would they recommend them? Why or why not? If the same business is mentioned more than once, give that one serious consideration.

You can also check Mechanics Files on the Car Talk forums for mechanics recommendations. The database includes more than 30,000 mechanics reviewed by Car Talk listeners.

Do a drive-by. Does the location look professional? You can get a pretty good feel for the type of business by scoping the place out. Does the lot have a lot of cars parked haphazardly, or does it seem neat and orderly?

Check credentials. If you have a service station in mind, consult the Better Business Bureau or AAA for their ratings and certifications, and to look for complaints. Also check to see whether mechanics are ASE certified (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence). AAA also has an Approved Auto Repair Network to help you narrow down the field.

Check Phoenixville Patch's directory or neighboring Patches, such as Tredyffrin-Easttown, Malvern, or West Chester. Read reviews. You can also try Merchant Circle, Yelp, or another ratings and reviews site to read about other customers' experiences. You can also search for a mechanic in your area on these sites.

Don't be shy about interviewing prospective mechanics. Wondering what questions to ask? Find out about labor rates, pricing policies, the source of parts used, and whether parts and labor are warrantied.

If you've narrowed it down to two or three mechanics, call each to get a quote on the same repair, and compare their prices.

Before you have a major repair done at a new service station, have a small repair or scheduled maintenance done. When you see how they handle your oil change or tire rotation, you'll get a feel for their skill and professionalism.

And you should always feel comfortable getting a second opinion, especially when considering major work or repairs. Ask the mechanic to call you with the diagnosis is before he performs the work, and how much the work would cost. Then take the car to another shop, ask them whether they can confirm the diagnosis, and find out what they would charge.

James C January 17, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I've used Phoenix Tire for years and have been happy with the guys. They've been honest and their rate is reasonable. (I drive a performance vehicle and am quite careful whom gets to touch it)
Paul O'Leary January 17, 2013 at 02:55 PM
I've been a client with Saunders Auto in Phoeniville for over 20 years. They offer extremely friendly and reliable service. I've never had a problem with the folks there. THE BEST!
Laura Schwartz January 17, 2013 at 04:17 PM
I know a lot of people don't like to go to dealers, but I have to praise Kelly's Chevrolet. They're keeping my 11 year old car going!
Amanda Myers January 17, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Go see Vic and Heyward @ Black Forest Auto!
JK January 18, 2013 at 01:06 PM
I am loyal to C and J Tire in Kimberton. They are honest and friendly. I have had two bad experiences with Tri-County Toyota in Limerick where they deliberately lied about repairs that needed to be done. A helpful hint that a mechanic told me was to ask for the part that they replace when a service is suggested. You can also file a complaint with the local state rep when a business is being dishonest. The state rep will investigate if there are enough complaints.

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