If you're the kind of owner who prefers to own your vehicle past the manufacturer warranty (whether by time or mileage), then one of the most important tasks, aside from choosing a dependable/reliable vehicle, is finding the right auto mechanic that you can rely on year in and year out. You might have a great car that's very reliable but without a solid mechanic to keep it in tip-top shape, you might not get the most out of it. You also don't want to be overcharged or have work done that's not necessary.

Who says a mechanic should come from the dealership? While that could very well be the dealership where you bought your car, that's most often not the case. Why? Well, you may have purchased your car from a dealership far away where you could get the best deal. Or, perhaps you simply buy your cars used or pre-owned instead of new. In either case, you need a good mechanic, and we show you how.

Friends & Family

References from those you know and trust are often the best way to find a good mechanic. If your brother, uncle, or cousin has had a great experience with a local mechanic who happens to be near you, then it behooves you to dig a bit deeper. First of all, make, model, and year is their vehicle? Is it the same or similar to yours? Are your cars of the same origin? If there's at least some similarity, then that's very helpful. If you both have newer cars, that also means the mechanic is up to speed on more advanced automotive tech, a huge plus. If you both have older vehicles, that means your mechanic can source parts and handle more outdated machines. Also, a very good thing.

You also have to ask your friend or family member what their overall experience has been with regard to costs (ask for hourly rates), as well as how well they honor their parts and labor warranties. Can they handle complex repairs? How quick are they to find the problem and repair it? How is their customer service? These are all important questions to ask, but at least friends and family won't get offended if you pepper them with these important questions.

Internet Vehicle Forums

If you want very specific information for your specific vehicle, then a good internet forum is a great place to start. There are gobs of internet forums for vehicle makes and specific model years. While most of these forums have members from all over the country, it might take some time to find a good mechanic near you. You can even ask questions about a specific problem for which you're seeking help. This way, you can narrow down the issue and then ask if anyone on the forum can refer you to a good mechanic. This way, you don't have to worry about whether or not the mechanic they're referring to can handle your specific problem. It's even better if the mechanic recommended has been used by that forum member repeatedly with excellent results and reasonable costs.

It's typically quite easy to find what you're looking for based on the topic, and most forums are very friendly when it comes to providing answers. Sign up for an account, contribute to the forum, and you can also provide your own experiences. Just remember to be polite and ask specific questions.

Yelp Reviews

One of the best ways to find a good mechanic is on Yelp. Yes, you do need to cull through the reviews (not just look at the number of stars) to find the right mechanic for you, but there are plenty of good user reviews that should help you get to a mechanic that's reliable, affordable, and has been doing business for a number of years. Don't just click on the first 4+ star rated mechanic, though. Go through as many highly-rated mechanics as you can and take the time to read as many reviews as you can before contacting them.

Take the time to read through detailed reviews and find out what problems have been fixed by the reviewed mechanic. A mechanic might be great at oil changes and tire rotations, but he might not be qualified to take on a full transmission rebuild. Make sure you check thoroughly. Also, you may want to select the type of problem you need fixed and send out a request for quotes. This could be a more expeditious way to get you to the mechanic you need. Once you reach out or you're contacted directly by the mechanic or shop, don't be afraid to ask questions like, “What is your hourly rate?”, “What is your parts and labor warranty?, and “Are you able to fix X?” Get the answers you're looking for before you bring your vehicle in.