How to find a mechanic you can rely on

When you don’t know your way around a gearbox, you could end up paying over the odds to keep your car on the road. But there’s plenty of good and trusty mechanics out there – you just need to find them. Here’s how.

When you don’t know your way around a gearbox, you could end up paying over the odds to keep your car on the road. But there’s plenty of good and trusty mechanics out there – you just need to find them. Here’s how.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 20 MARCH 2020

How to find a good mechanic 

Finding a reliable mechanic might seem like the Holy Grail, but it needn’t be so hard. Follow these tips and you should be able to keep your car in prime condition without paying through the nose.

Where to look for the right mechanic 

There are several ways to go about finding a good mechanic:

  • Search online 
    Type ‘find a mechanic near me’ into Google and you should find links to most, if not all, your local garages. The problem is knowing if they’re good mechanics. You may want to look for RAC or AA-approved garages, or those accredited by the Retail Motor Industry Federation’s Trust My Garage scheme.  
  • Get personal recommendations 
    Try local friends, social media and online neighbourhood groups such as Nextdoor. Owners’ clubs, on or offline, can also be a great place to find people familiar with your particular model of car.  

Should I fix my car at a main dealer? 

Lots of people assume they need to have their car serviced and fixed at a large franchised dealer, but this isn’t the case. Your car’s warranty will still be valid if you use a local garage, as long as you stay up to date with services and use manufacturer-approved parts.  
However, if you do use a main dealer, you’ll at least have the confidence that they’re familiar with your type of car and will be able to get the parts you need.  
Also, in the event of a claim, most insurance providers like you to use a mechanic they’ve approved. Because of this, your insurance provider may not guarantee the repairs done on your car, if you don’t use a repairer approved by them.

How do you trust a mechanic? 

Even if you think you’ve found the right mechanic, it can be hard to know if they’ll do a good job at the right price. Here’s how to put your mind at ease: 

  • Check prices online 
    This is hard to do if you’re not sure what’s wrong with the car. But if you know what needs fixing, or it’s a straightforward repair, you can get an idea of how much it should cost by searching online. Remember, prices can vary depending on where you live, and what type of car you have.  
  • Get quotes 
    Call at least three different garages to get a range of quotes and see how much prices vary. Once you’ve decided on your mechanic, make sure you get a quote in writing, and make sure it includes everything you’ll have to pay.  
  • Read online reviews 
    It’s always useful to know about other people’s experiences, so online reviews can be helpful. But some reviews may be misleading. There’s always the possibility that a few businesses could fake great reviews, and some could write nasty comments about competitors. Just keep your wits about you when reading them. 

Questions to ask your mechanic 

When you’re phoning around for quotes, make sure you ask:  

  • Is VAT included? 
    This could make a big difference to the price.  
  • Is labour charged per hour?  
    If so, ask how long the job will take. If necessary, set a maximum time.  
  • Can I watch?  
    A good mechanic won’t mind if you want to see them at work on your car.  
  • What’s included in a service?  
    Making sure your car has a regular service is vital for keeping it in good condition. What a service includes is likely to vary between garages, so check that your mechanic does everything the manufacturer’s warranty specifies.  

What to do if your mechanic rips you off 

If you have a bad experience with your garage, you can always contact the Motor Ombudsman. This impartial body is there to help you resolve any disputes. 

Does car insurance cover repairs?  

Your car insurance will cover any damage caused because of an accident, or bad weather. But it won’t cover servicing, everyday repairs, or breakdowns. For that, you’ll need extra breakdown cover. 

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