When you’re looking for the best mechanic, there are a lot of choices out there: You could go to the dealership, or to any number of retail chains or to an independent shop.
So how do you sort through all your options? We’ve got some guidance to share based on a new survey of tens of thousands of customers.
Start your search for a good mechanic here
Consumer Reports polled more than 40,000 of its subscribers who went to the repair shop over a one-year period between the spring of 2017 and the spring of 2018.
The magazine asked readers to rank their service experience based on five metrics:
- Courtesy of the staff
- Timeliness of the job being completed
- Quality of the work done
- Satisfaction with the price
- The shop’s ability to solve the problem during the first visit without the need for additional follow-up work
Here’s a look at who excelled in the Consumer Reports rankings…
Chains and independent shops best the dealerships
Before we get into this list, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: The chains and independent shops scored much higher on the Consumer Reports tally.
Yet if you have a new vehicle that’s still under warranty, the magazine recommends that you go to the dealership. Why would you pay for something at an independent shop that you could get done for free at a dealership?!?
That said, here’s who outperformed among the chains and independent shops:
|Mechanic shop||Consumer Report score (out of 100)|
|Goodyear Auto Service||88|
|NAPA AutoCare Center||87|
|AAA Car Care Plus||87|
|Les Schwab Tires||86|
|Meineke Car Care Centers||85|
|Big O Tires||85|
|Firestone Complete Auto Care||84|
|Certified Tire Auto Service||84|
See the complete list — including those who scores poorly and who are probably best avoided — here.
Clark Howard’s take on finding the best mechanic
The money expert has long told people the time to find a good mechanic is before there’s an emergency.
“I want you to establish a relationship…at an independent shop that you use for the low-voltage things,” Clark says.
“By that I mean regular maintenance on your vehicle so you know who they are, they know who you are and you have that layer of trust. Then when something really goes wrong with your car, you already know where it should go.”
If you’re in a real pinch and your car croaks, Clark advises asking friends and families for an immediate referral to their mechanic.
“That’s not going to guarantee you’ll find the right shop, but it will improve the odds you’re going to the right place with the right mechanic.”
For more of Clark’s tips on how to find the best mechanic, click here.