Choose a Reliable Mechanic on the Road
Nothing can wreak havoc on a road trip like car trouble, but a good mechanic can take much of the anguish out of an untimely breakdown. Here are some tips on tracking down a reliable auto mechanic when you’re away from home.
1. Prepare in advance so you won’t be caught off guard and desperate if trouble does arise. For example, if you know you’ll be visiting the L.A. area in a few weeks, do some online research now to obtain some decent possibilities in that region.
2. Check with the concierge or other staff members at the lodging where you’re staying. There’s a good chance they have helped other guests with the same problem, or will just know of someone through their own automotive needs in the past.
3. Ask for some references, even if you don’t plan to call them. The fact that they provide you with some will be a pretty good sign to begin with.
4. When calling around to garages, also ask about credentials, such as membership in ASE or good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Another good question to ask is whether they back up their repair work with warranties. Similarly, while visiting a garage, look for certification reflecting the training and knowledge of the shop’s mechanics.
5. Consider the attitude and professionalism of the staff on hand. Are they helpful and courteous, or surly and off-putting? Trust your instincts if you get a bad feel based on the staff.
6. Make sure the place you’re taking your car will provide a free estimate before beginning substantial work. This is standard procedure, and any repair shop refusing to cooperate should raise serious red flags.
7. Try to find out if they have extensive experience working on your particular brand of car. Failing that, see if they specialize in foreign or domestic vehicles and pick the right match.
8. Determine how you’ll get to and from the repair shop ahead of time, so you won’t have your choices too restricted by your location. Having a membership with an emergency road service company can be invaluable in these situations, since they can tow you free of charge to the best possible shop.