Tips for Choosing a Mechanic

Tuesday May 1, 2018

Regular maintenance and repairs are a necessary step in prolonging the life of your vehicle. Proactive maintenance helps your vehicle stand up to wear and tear and repairs fix problems that affect your vehicle’s operation.

Over the life of a vehicle, repair and maintenance costs can add up quickly. According to CAA, owning a vehicle can cost Canadians anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 per year in insurance, gas, tires, parking fees and maintenance costs. Choosing the right mechanic can help ease the strain on your wallet, prevent unexpected breakdowns and help your vehicle last for years to come. Before you choose a mechanic, consider these important factors:


Dealership vs. Independent Mechanics

If you purchased your vehicle from a dealership, you may want to use your dealership’s mechanic. Even if you purchased your vehicle in a private sale, you can still talk to the local dealership about servicing your vehicle.

An authorized dealership ensures your vehicle’s service is performed according to the manufacturer’s standards using approved tools and parts. This can sometimes be more costly than an independent mechanic. However, you will have extra peace of mind knowing the work was performed to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

An independent or “big box” mechanic may be more affordable and convenient but it’s important to check the terms of your warranty before you choose these lower cost options. When it comes to mandatory testing such as Drive Clean Emission testing, be sure they have the appropriate certification to provide the work. 



Choosing a mechanic with a convenient location helps reduce the transportation costs needed to get to and from your mechanic. This is especially important when you need to leave your vehicle with your mechanic for service.

A convenient location also means it will be less tempting to put off regular maintenance or repairs. Delaying what seem like minor repairs or maintenance can greatly affect the life of your vehicle. It’s important to think of your vehicle as a complete system. When one component is not functioning properly, it can lead to effects on the performance of other components. So, choose a mechanic with a location that is either close to your home or work and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate when it comes to your vehicle’s health.


Recommendations & Reviews

Getting a recommendation from a friend or family member is a great way to find a reliable mechanic. It’s even better to get a recommendation from someone with a vehicle similar to yours. You can also search online for mechanics that have received positive reviews from drivers in the community.



A repair shop must clearly indicate with signage whether or not their mechanics receive commission for work performed. If you don’t see a sign indicating, ask. Beware of a mechanic that earns a commission. They may try to sell you repairs that are not mandatory.


Costs for Obtaining Estimates

Mechanics are allowed to charge for estimates, as long as the cost is clearly outlined. Before choosing a mechanic, create a short list and find out if the shop charges for estimates.


Get an Estimate

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, get an estimate for the work. According to the Consumer Protection Act, a repair shop must give you a written estimate or obtain agreement on the maximum cost of the repair. The Consumer Protection Act states that:


Ask for Options

When it comes to making any significant repairs, be sure to ask your mechanic for options. Understanding your options can help you save money or make the right decision to better prevent a future breakdown. You can also shop these options around to ensure you get the best deal for the job.

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