The Value and Joy of Finding a Trustworthy Mechanic

by Kevin on October 23, 2009

Last week I told you that knowing experts within your personal network should either save or make you money in the long run. It was a short story about a mechanically inclined friend and his advice that we needed to replace the timing belt on my wife’s car. He potentially saved us $2,500 and a whole lot of heart ache.

The problem we then faced was this: we knew we needed to replace the timing belt, but didn’t have a mechanic that we trusted to do the job right and at a fair price.

The Value of a Trustworthy Mechanic

We do not lack for car shops around our home. We’ve got several big chains in our area. But we haven’t been able to really develop much of a relationship with any of the crews.

Additionally since they are tied to large megacorporations they are less about relationships and more about hitting their numbers for corporate.

On the other hand a local, independent shop has a reputation to protect. It is in their best interest to treat you fairly, to provide great service, and to do quality work.

In short a trustworthy independent shop won’t charge you $300 for a $5 fix. They can see past the short-term gain.

As with any small business your reputation is your business. The better you treat your customers the more likely they are to spread the word to their friends and family about your business.

Tapping Our Network for Recommendations

We went to Financial Peace University the same day the article on knowing experts went live on the site. I’ve mentioned in the past that we are helping facilitate a small group of FPU members at church. (It’s still going great.)

During our discussion talk of mechanics and home air conditioning problems surfaced. We couple was raving about two separate companies they had found that treated them right, showed up on time (for the HVAC problem), and charged a fair price.

We were thrilled and got the information for the independent car shop.

The Joy of Finding a Trustworthy Mechanic

We had our car in the shop the very next day. While waiting in the small lobby for someone to come out to check in the car I noticed their mission statement on the wall.

This is a paraphrase, but it said something like this:

[Company name] exists to provide quality car service to our customers. We believe in doing quality work at a fair price to the customer that provides a fair profit for the company.

It was much longer than that and ended with a verse from Proverbs, but I can’t recall it right now.

Needless to say it made us feel really good about where we were dropping our car off.

Recall that my mechanically inclined friend told me replacing the timing belt and water pump should cost somewhere in the $500 to $600 range.

The shop quoted me $580.

Other shops near us quoted me $720.

The bill came to $575.

Quality work. Fair price for the customer. And the company profited.

We won’t be taking our car anywhere else for significant work even though it is a 40 minute drive round trip. Now that’s car mechanic joy!

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Save Money by Finding a Trustworthy Mechanic
October 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm

{ 4 comments }

The Happy Rock October 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

The 40 minutes drive will start to get old. I will suspect, just from past experience that you will eventually start trying to find a great mechanic that is closer.

I still haven’t found that quality blend in a mechanic. I found older mechanics do a good job at a good price, but they don’t offer the preventive car and updated philosophies. The newer facilities are great with preventive checks, but aren’t as cheap.

I rotate between three mechanics depending on the work that needs to be done. I go to the trusty reliable guy for big job because of the savings, the new hip stores for convenience and scheduling ease for easier stuff, and one guy that I really trust but is neither flexible or cheap. All are within 5 -15 minutes(although we do live in suburbia).

Ricky October 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I say 40 minutes is well worth the drive for a mechanic you can trust. If your car needs an oil change, or other basic preventative maintenance, take it to the quick lube place down the street (or do it your self :)). If you are having something major taken care of, a 40 minute drive is a small price to pay for peace of mind!

Golfing Girl October 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm

We moved to another state about 7 years ago and finding these trusted experts was difficult, yet important. I asked people at work with mixed results (one great realtor and one terrible one come to mind). As for the mechanic, we lucked out since a father/son shop is nearby and every quote has been honored and is always below the competition. They’ve given me a ride to work after dropping off my car, although it’s not their common practice because we’ve been loyal customers and have referred business to them.

We’ve found every “chain” seems to recommend unneccessary work or more frequent servicing than necessary. Also, our mechanic won me over when they treated me well (I’m a woman obviously). I’ve been to other places who see a woman walk in and assume we know nothing about cars and are looking for an easy target for extra charges. They’ve even tried to “scare” me into unneccessary services by playing on my fears of being stranded–very unethical!

Christine Goodwin October 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Hi! From the other side of the desk. I’m the wife of a mechanic. He used to work for a big dealership. All dealerships bill by book hours. Example: Job X is billed for 16 hours but it only takes my husband 4 hours to do the actual hours. Who sets these hours? The manufacturers. Who’s getting rich. Not the customer. My husband is now self employed as a mechanic on our property. We can’t do alignments and refer customers out to their choice. One big company in our area is intentionally creating work on vehicles that isn’t legitimate and we have been shocked by the “required” work before they will do the alignments. We’ve looked into the alignment machines but for now they are outside our budget. My husband posed as a customer at this place with one our customer’s cars and they pulled the scheme on him. All this work was required and they only had the car in the bay 5 minutes. My husband called them on it and had to show his state license to prove to them he knew what he was talking about. He’s no longer allowed on the property. We no longer refer anybody there. I have said all this to say that a 40 minute drive for a great mechanic is worth the time. We have customers who drive over an hour. We’ve never advertised except by business cards. All our work is by word of mouth and includes a fleet. If something sounds fishy, look around. A second opinion is worth it’s weight in gold. And to the person who had a company try to intimidate you, don’t walk-run from there quickly. They will create the necessary repairs that will “prove” them right. I used to have a commercial vehicle and actually had this happen. I stopped payment immediately and wrote a letter of explanation to the parent office. The service underwriter and mechanic were relieved of their duties.

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