How to find a good mechanic

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All over America, people complain about the conditions of their roads. Potholes are rampant and local government isn’t fixing them. That’s lead to vigilante pothole posses that meet up on weekends and pool their money to buy asphalt to hot patch the holes themselves.

The nation’s poorly maintained roads are taking a real toll on our finances. Transportation research group TRIP reports the average driver spent $516 on repairs in 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s just crazy!

If you’ve got some car repairs in your future, listen carefully to this advice…

Here are 6 tips to help you find the right mechanic

1. In general, the best time to find a mechanic is before you have a car problem. Get to know a repair shop and develop a relationship over time by having them do routine maintenance like oil changes. That way when the chips are down, you know where to take your vehicle.

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2. In mid-sized and large cities, look for a single brand mechanic that’s not affiliated with dealership. Read reviews on Yelp and Kudzu for guidance. Or if you’re an AAA member, use one of their recommended shops.

3. Always talk with the mechanic doing work on your car. I am not a fan of the traditional dealer service model where you only talk to the service ticket writer, not the mechanic actually doing the work. If you are dealing with a service writer, be sure they note the symptoms you’re seeing in your vehicle, not the remedy. Too often they’ll just write ‘do a tuneup’ when you’re saying the car is intermittently losing punch while driving. The problem then becomes that you sign your name to authorize ‘do a tuneup’ while the true nature of the problem remains undiagnosed.

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4. If you get an estimate that’s very high, go elsewhere for another quote. And if you’re a woman getting a quote over the phone, have a male friend call up and see what story they get. Women are generally quoted higher on car repairs than men, according to a study out of Northwestern University. Now, there may have been a time in the past when men generally knew more about the workings of automobiles. But the technology in cars today has been an equalizer between the sexes; nobody really understands what’s going on beneath the hood, unless that is your field of training!

5. Do your scheduled maintenance to reduce the chance of a big repair. Simple things like oil changes and rotating your tires can save you money in the long run.

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6. Start with Consumer Reports to buy vehicles that have the highest level of reliability, especially if you drive your cars for the long haul. That you’ll limit the amount of time you’ll need to have your car in the shop!

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