where are the honest mechanics?

I’m positive there are honest mechanics out there that also know what they are doing, but I swear I can’t find them. Everyone always cautions me about shade tree mechanics,but I’ve had just as many problems with chain service centers and dealership service departments.

I’m having a problem with my car and I called 4 different dealerships and explained my problem and got 4 different answers all followed with a very vague, “you’ll just have to bring it in an we’ll do a diagnostic!” But they don’t worry that the diagnostic cost 99.99.
A hundred dollars just to tell you what’s wrong with it.

And speaking of the diagnostic, since when do they not incorporate that into the cost of the repair. Back in the day,they’d only charge you seperately for the diagnostice if you decided not to have the repair done or did it yourself.

Please tell me where to find good mechanics!

Well, ask. Ask your neighbors. Ask your coworkers. Ask your auto insurance agent. Ask the mailman. Ask the cute member of the opposite sex you see in the produce aisle at the grocery store. And if needed, do a “referral chain.” By that I mean, if someone recommends an auto place highly but they don’t work on your type of car (or problem) or can’t get you in, ask them who THEY’D recommend.

I’ve said “You came very highly recommended by a customer who trusts you. Since I can’t give you my business this time, I’d sure value your input on where you recommend I go.” and I got some good leads. Good auto places know who’s good and who stinks around town.

Then, tell the place that you do call that they got referred, and by whom, and why. I think it adds incentive to live up to the rep.

I just got lucky finding a good, honest mechanic, but Cranky’s right, the referral method is best. Even though I didn’t find my mechanic that way, I know about 10 people who use him because I recommended him. However, understand that there are certain disadvantages with a good mechanic. I can’t just show up for an oil change, etc without an appointment ( pisses some people off ),but he’ll squeeze in actual repairs.Although he’s nowhere near dealership prices,he’s toward the high side of independents.And something that pisses more people off than I would have imagined -he doesn’t do shoddy work. By that I mean not only is the work done well, he doesn’t do cheap fixes.I had a engine go once.People told me I should be able to get a rebuilt one for under $1000. My mechanic wouldn’t do it that way. He would only use a hot tested one, and he said if you replace the engine you should also replace other parts. It would cost over $3000 that way. Was he trying to rip me off? No , because he also said I should just get rid of the car, because even if I did it the expensive way, there was no guarantee that the transmission wouldn’t go next and in his opinion, the mileage was too high to put that much money in it.

Also, he doesn’t charge separately for diagnostics if he does the repair, and if its a very small adjustment or something, he may not charge me at all.He did that just last week. After spending 15 minutes test-driving and checking the computer, it turned out to be warranty work,but there was no charge for the time spent checking.

Whenever I need work done that he doesn’t do (body work, electronics etc) I always ask him where to go,because,like Cranky said,good places know who else is good.

I’m thinking of moving this to GQ. It has a real question and a couple of real answers.

By the way, if a friend recommended a mechanic (or dentist, or hairstylist, or whatever), mention the friend by name.

If something needs to be replaced, ALWAYS ask for the broken part.

If personal referrals don’t work (or maybe even if they do), you may want to check out the Mechan-X-Files at the Car Talk Website. It’s a searchable database of mechanics with whom listeners/users have had good experiences. I had better luck searching by area than by make of car - a good mechanic, highly recommended by a number of users, didn’t come up when I searched under Subaru mechanics in my area. IOW, try different search criteria.

Couldn’t think of anything Pit-worthy to add…

Shaky Jake

My take on mechanics: there are some very good independent mechanics, and a lot of bad ones. Part of the reasons: it is extremely expensive to buy all the equipment you need to service a modern car-you cannot fix a car with pliers and wrenches (as you once were able to). Second, a lot of mechanics are not properly educated-they are “parts changers”-that is, they guess as to the cause of a problem, and replace parts till they hit on the real cause. This can be expensive. Third, most people DO NOT maintain their cars properly-you will avoid 99% of the problems if you simply read and follow your owner’s manual.
I can see both sides of the argument-say your car is running rough-it might be just one fouled sparkplug (about $5.00 to replace)> However, the mechanic sees: you haven’t changed the sparkplug wires, the airfilter is clogged, and the oil is like sludge. A good mechanic would correct these problems, and charge for them. A lot of people would complain! Of course, replacing the sparkplug would fix the problem, but then the ancient wires might fail as well.

Thanks for the replies,some really good ideas