Let’s be real: not all of us are going to be great with cars. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but one of the first steps in being an awesome dad is knowing your limitations, accepting them, and then coming up with solutions anyway.
Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t do a great job of convincing men of this; how many movies and TV shows have we seen where the saintly father figure is approached by the troubled teen while the former is working on a car? Or, how many movie plots are driven by the protagonist being saved by his dad’s car, which he painstakingly restored over time? But here’s the thing: that’s all fantasy. In reality, a lot of would-be dads out there are just not grease monkeys, and that’s ok!
Luckily for us, we have the internet to help every dad find a ‘car mechanic near me’. However, while knowing how to be an expert mechanic isn’t expected of every dad, every dad should know how to spot a quality mechanic when they see one. Here are some things to look for when looking for a mechanic near you:
Looking for a Mechanic Near You? Make Sure They’re Qualified
Here’s a fact that not a lot of people might not know: the auto repair industry doesn’t actually have qualifications or certificates. This means any monkey with a wrench can open up a garage, get a business permit, and call themselves mechanics. So how do you sort through the grease monkeys from actual monkeys?
Thankfully, the AAA publishes guidelines that most respectable garages and mechanics follow. For mechanics that do follow AAA guidelines, they usually have an Automotive Service Excellence –or ASE –certificate that tells their customers that they are subject matter experts in the field of auto repair as defined by one of the country’s largest and most knowledgeable auto repair institutions.
The AAA and ASA (Automotive Service Association) are two of America’s largest not-for-profit trade associations that provide technical working knowledge of mechanical and collision repair industries. These allow mechanics to provide a level of customer service and competency that is frankly unmatched by some dude named Steve who says he’s worked with cars his whole life.
So when you see the results for ‘mechanic near me’, make sure they have AAA or ASA certifications.
Looking for a Mechanic Near You? Make Sure They Keep a Clean Shop
A clean, well-organized shop says a lot about the people working there. If you’re looking for a competent mechanic near you, inspect their shop and see how clean it is. This might seem nit-picky, but a good shop that respects itself, respects the work they do, and most importantly, respects their customers, will have a shop that reflects these values.
Clean, organized shelves and stain-free workspaces are tell-tale signs that a garage takes itself seriously, and these are the things you should be looking into. Remember: mechanics are professionals just like everybody else, and they should have a business space that speaks to this professionalism. Pro tip: go to a shop and ask them if you can use their bathroom. This is usually a better sign of how well a shop takes care of itself, and if the bathroom is just as clean as the garage, you’re good to go.
Looking for a Mechanic Near You? Make Sure They Can Help You Understand the Problem
In academia, the concept of “Explain Like I’m 5” is an important lesson for scholars to learn. The premise is simple: if you can explain quantum mechanics or transcendental literature in such a way that a 5-year old can understand it at its most basic level, then you’ve displayed a sense of expertise that is beyond casual.
This is the same for mechanics: sure, they might know what a manifold is or what four-on-the-floor means, they might know all the lingo and the shop talk, but if they can’t explain what it means to someone who isn’t a fellow mechanic, then you might have some problems.
Good communication is key when it comes to auto repair because mechanics need to be able to explain to you what is wrong with your car, why it’s wrong, and how to avoid it in the future.
Looking for a Mechanic Near You? Make Sure They’re Willing to Show You the Problem Rather Than Just Talk About It
Which leads us to one of the best ways to find out whether the mechanic near you is a quality mechanic: they’re willing to show you the problem rather than just telling you about it. Often, shady mechanics will use high-falutin’, complex, and sometimes even gibberish, terms to try and intimidate a customer into thinking that something is wrong when there actually isn’t. It’s a way for them to upsell certain products and services, and for some extra shady characters, an invitation for them to wreck something on the sly so that you go back to them for further repairs. Yikes.
The best way to avoid that is to find a mechanic who is willing not only to talk about the problem in terms you can understand, but also physically show you just exactly what is wrong with your car. In fact, if they’re willing, they might even invite you to a ride-along just to prove that what they’re saying actually is true.
Looking for a Mechanic Near You? Be Prepared to Pay the Price (Literally)
The services of a good quality mechanic won’t come cheap, especially if they have the certifications that say they are some of the best experts you can find in your area. But don’t think of this as a bad thing: you’re getting what you’re paying for, with the higher cost meaning you can demand for better service and results.
If its your first time in a mechanic’s shop, you can try to haggle, but don’t low-ball them: this is a sure-fire way of ruining any kind of positive relationship you could have fostered with them, and if they’re the nearest mechanic to you, you want to be on their good side.