How to Find a Good Mechanic

Just as every person needs a good doctor, every car needs a reliable, honest mechanic.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Automotive Repair has some helpful guidelines for picking a mechanic.

How to Select a Shop for Repairs

  • Select a shop before you need one. It's easier to find a good, reliable mechanic when you're not desperate.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations. If they're happy with a shop's services, chances are you will be, too. Ask someone with a car that is a similar make, model and year as your car.
  • The web is your friend. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Edmunds are great resources to check shop reviews.
  • Always ask if the mechanic shop is licensed. All shops must be licensed by the State of California. You can check the station's license by visiting the site.
  • Know your rights as a consumer. By law, the shop must provide you with a written estimate before doing any work on your car. After you receive the estimate, feel free to go to another shop to compare.

When You Arrive at the Shop

  • Check out the shop’s appearance; make sure it is clean and well organized.  Make note if the employees are polite.
  • Look for posted terms and conditions. A good shop should have their terms and conditions, including labor rates and guarantees posted for consumers.
  • Locate the Bureau of Automotive Repair sign. All auto repair shops in California must be registered with BAR, and every repair shop must post a sign to inform customers of their rights.

Once You Select a Shop

  • First, have the shop do a minor repair or just an oil change. If you're happy with the service during a minor repair or routine service, you will be more comfortable bringing in your car for more extensive service.
  • Remember that a technician must get your consent for additional repairs.
  • Never be intimidated by car jargon. Ask questions until you clearly understand what the technician wants to do to your car.

To file a complaint about a mechanic shop, you can do so at the BAR website.

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