Whether you’re going to work or on a vacation, our cars and bikes play a very big role in our lives. They are the most convenient way for travel, and offer great flexibility… unless you live in an city with traffic issues, in which case stick with the bike!

As convenient as they are, eventually issues with them are bound to arise and you’ll have to seek the help of a mechanic. But will just any mechanic do? Let us talk a little about your car or bike, and your thought process when you start to feel there’s something wrong.

Listen to your car and care for it

While it’s not always the case, there may be signs that a breakdown is imminent. The best thing you can do in this situation is to avoid pushing your vehicle too hard, and start looking for the nearest mechanic.

Even when we do notice something that just feels wrong, we often assume that it’s just something temporary, or we simply have other things to worry about at the time.

Even if it is a false alarm, it is better for you to run a check as soon as possible, because a breakdown will cost you much more – not just in monetary terms, but in time waiting. If your car or bike reaches the point where it has to be towed, your choices will be limited, and you won’t be able to negotiate, unless you’re happy to wait at the side of the road for a few extra hours.

My vehicle does not seem to be working properly

When you do decide to take your vehicle in for a repair, you need to check if it’s still under warranty. If it is still under warranty, it would be best for you to get into the dealership. They should be able to cover labour and most part expenses as part of that warranty.

If you do decide to visit an independent mechanic, make sure they’re not going to perform repairs on parts –
that often renders your warranty void!

If your vehicle is no longer under warranty, independent mechanics are the cheaper option, but there is no guarantee of the quality of the repair.

It is time to fix my vehicle but where do I go?

It’s time to decide if you are going to visit the dealership or independent car repair service. The cheaper deal is not always the best deal, but higher prices do not necessarily guarantee better quality.

Dealerships have certified technicians and original parts. You will also get a warranty on the fixed part, whereas at an independent mechanic, this is not always the case (though times they are a-changing…) At the dealership, you will often have to pay more, but they should be able to estimate how much you will need to pay for a specific issue. If they complete the service earlier, you will still have to pay the price you initially agreed upon. The same goes if they do not manage to do that, which means you will still pay the originally agreed upon price for work, even if it took them longer.

At an independent mechanic, you will be paying for the actual work done. This is good if it doesn’t take long to fix your car, but it can eventually raise the price if the issue is complicated. They also offer alternatives to the original parts, which are also cheaper.

Who you choose is a matter of preference. What really matters in the end is that the job gets done.

How do I tell if the service will be good enough

One of the best sources of reliable information are your friends. Ask them where do they get their cars fixed and if they have to visit often. The less they do, the better the service is. They can give you some idea about quality mechanic services that you can visit.

Check if the service that you want to use has high-end equipment. If your car is a new model, chances are that it will be electronics-heavy, so the better a car repair shop is equipped, the higher the chance for quality fix.

Always check for certificates and memberships. Automotive Service Association membership and Automotive Service Excellence certification are both indicators that this person knows what he is doing. Also watch for any type of credibility indicators, such as reviews and testimonials on their website or Facebook. Ask for a second opinion if you have to make up your mind.

Ask questions when you discuss your car issue with the mechanic. It shouldn’t be a problem for them to explain to you the approach they are going to take in order to deal with your issue.

A real professional will be happy to tell you how they plan to fix your car – this is another way for them to show you that they are capable of dealing with your issue.

Another sign to tell by if the service is good will be the presence of other people and their mood. Naturally, if the shop is not performing well, there will not be a lot of people and even those that are there will not look very happy about it as they leave.

The choice is really down to you. There’s no right or wrong. To give you some idea, I get my bike serviced at the dealership, but I take my trusty Rav4 to Auto Giant in Brendale.

With all of this you are ready to choose

You have the opinion of your friends and the basic knowledge to tell if a shop is credible enough to trust them with your car. With that said, it all depends on your personal preference. And remember that you should never wait until the last moment, otherwise you might not even get to choose as to which mechanic to use.

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