How do I know if I have an honest car mechanic? This is a question that has plagued many since Henry Ford began making cars for the masses. Some may wonder if there are even honest car mechanics out there, or have they all emerged from the depths of darkness with their black stained hands, tobacco yellow teeth, and gravely, mocking voices.
It's a scenario that many have experienced. Driving home from work on a hot afternoon and the freeway is packed. The air conditioner stops blowing cool air so you turn the AC switch off, then on. Nothing. You lightly slap the dashboard above the vents. Still nothing. Suddenly, in the area of you speedometer, a red light in the shape of an oil can begins blinking and at the same time you smell something that isn't normal. A tingly itchy feeling begins to crawl up your back, telling you that something is not right. A distant warning voice, probably from your dad years ago, tells you to get the car to a safe place and turn it off.
As you begin to make your way to the right lane, the car begins to stumble and jerk. Panic begins to set in and you reach for your cell phone. The dad voice reminds you to get to a safe place, and you mind, eyeing the next off ramp about a half mile ahead. The car begins to jerk harder and white smoke begins to flow out of the front of the hood. The voice tells you to turn the car off now. You pull the car to the side of the road, turn the key off, and pick up your cell phone. Then you realize that you don't know who to call.
Fast forward this scenario and the tension does not ease. Sitting in the waiting room of the car repair facility, you see a clean cut salesman with a terrific smile approach. He is joined by a mechanic looking as serious as a doctor coming to give bad news. You wonder, is he an honest car mechanic? The damage is significant, he tells you and you brace yourself for the cost. When he tells you an amount, you still almost fall over. How can it possibly be so much? Do I really need to spend that much to get my car running? Can I trust these guys?
The answer is maybe. Here are some tips that will help you figure out whether to know if your car mechanic is honest. First, ask to see what is wrong with the car and have the mechanic explain it to you. Even if you don't know what you are looking at, it shows the mechanic that you are not going to believe everything at face value. Second, get a second opinion. The best way to do this is to have a mechanic friend come to the shop and look at the car. If this is not possible, then have the car taken to another shop. Most shops will charge an inspection fee but if you call a second shop and tell them what you are doing, they may waive this fee if you get the work done. Third, don't let anyone pressure you into a decision. This scare tactic can be effective so it is important to remember that you are the customer and you have the power at any time to take your vehicle someplace else. At anytime during your interaction with a car mechanic, if he gets angry at your questioning or desire for a second opinion, it is a good sign that he is not honest.
Finally, once you have found an honest mechanic, keep going to him. They are out there and are more common than the crooks that you fear. And oh yeah, save the phone number of the honest car mechanic in your cell phone.