It's a fact of life - every car owner out there will eventually have to get his car repaired. No matter how much you baby your vehicle, parts wear out, things get jiggled out of place, and accidents happen. When you do bring it to an automotive repair shop, how can you make sure your car gets the best service possible?
Know Your Mechanic. The first step is to bring your car to someone who knows what he's doing. You certainly don't want a wannabe clowning around under the hood. Ask friends, family and coworkers, especially those who own the same make or share the same manufacturer of your car, for feedback on their mechanic. You can also browse through the internet for mechanic review sites like www.mechanic-review.com or www.mechanicratingz.com for information on the top mechanics in your area. A simple Google search will open you up to the multitude of websites out there.
A single recommendation isn't enough; you'll want other opinions to support those claims to be sure the mechanic is dependable. Once you've got a lead on a good mechanic, it always pays to contact that mechanic personally. If you can, do a brief interview - that way, you can get a feel for his personality and work ethic. You'll also get to know his rates, and have a chance to negotiate.
Get routine Check-ups. It's a good idea to have regularly-scheduled maintenance for your automobile. Oil changes, tune-ups and other routine procedures will lessen the risk of bigger problems. When getting these done, always ask for a fixed cost estimate and make sure your mechanic sticks to it. These basic services should be more or less the same with other places, so if your mechanic can't come up with an estimate, you can check with another.
You may get recommendations for additional services in your cost estimate. Be wary with these "friendly" gestures, as some scammers use this as a way to milk you of your money. Take your car in for a second opinion, and you might just be able to save a few dollars.
Good mechanics will also be able to schedule your car for these services. They'll provide the time you can bring your car in for repairs and when you'll be able to get it back.
Troubleshoot. When encountering actual problems with your car, be it a strange shudder or a loud squeal that was never there before, avoid diagnosing it yourself. A lot of mechanics will take your word for it and won't diagnose the problem themselves. You could end up paying $100 for a repair that doesn't even fix that squeal. Ask the mechanic to identify what the problem is, and always get a second opinion.
Never be afraid to disclose any mishaps you had that might have led to the problem. Any and all information you can share will help the mechanic make an accurate diagnosis. If you were speeding across a pothole-encrusted road for kicks, tell him - that may just lead him to the source of your car trouble.