Finding the right mechanic

One of the most under-appreciated professions out there is that of a car mechanic. How many people do you meet in your life that have such an impact on you and your family’s safety as well as your finances? A good, trustworthy mechanic can save you a tonne of money in the long run. Unfortunately, the right mechanic can be hard to come by. I think we need to determine first of all what I mean by the word “right” when referring to someone in the car repair industry. The “right” mechanic would be someone who is not merely competent, but also worthy of trusting with a job regarding your car.

A mechanic’s competency can be tested and proven with even the simplest mechanical problem. If he can fix it, and it stays fixed, then he can successfully repair a car. That is a good start. Next comes the hard part: can you trust him? Even the simplest mechanical problem can turn into a marathon of frustrations in the hands of a dishonest mechanic. So how do you know you can trust a mechanic? It is simple. You cannot. Well, it is very hard to do so, anyway. And you should not do so too soon.

Mechanics have families with problems and homes with lots of bills, just like everyone else. When their main source of income rests inside the pockets of a tight-fisted car owner, their priority is not how low they can keep the price of your repair. Their priorities are the mobile phone their wife or girlfriend has been asking for since last year and the clothes the children need because they are growing so fast. The more money they can convince you to give to them, the better off they will be at home and in their personal lives. The problem arises when the mechanic tries to take that easy path to your hard earned cash.
It is not uncommon for a car owner to go through a series of mechanics till they settle on one they believe they trust.
Generally, you have two options. One is to simply go to the dealerships, for instance Toyota Uganda, Motorcare, Spear Motors etc. These typically have revenue goals in mind and this can create conflict of interest when they look at your car. Small issues that can wait become urgent matters that you should attend to, in their opinion. Sometimes you might even never meet the mechanic working on your car but only wait for a call and a huge bill. Locally-owned, independent garages are many times a better option for individual car owners.

The honest mechanic knows that if he treats a customer with respect and fairness, they will be happy with his work. The quality will shine through and you will notice it when you share your car repair stories with friends or family. Respect and fairness become evident over time, whereas sneaky practices usually raise their heads much sooner. The trustworthy mechanic knows that he will prosper if he can convince you to return to him with not only your future repair needs, but also those of your friends and family. He knows he does not have to cheat you to get more money from you, because cars break down all the time.
Word of mouth is generally the best method of finding a good mechanic. Ask family, friends or even strangers with a similar car. Sometimes, you may find the mechanic by accident. Suppose you need something fixed fast... speak with the mechanic and watch how he deals with the problem and how he deals with other customers, then talk to those customers. Surely a customer with a story about where they were victimised shall be more than willing to point it out to you.

Ask previous customers of a particular mechanic what they think of the service they received. Beyond simply asking for personal recommendations, I have particularly found that it helps to ask someone with a similar car to yours - not all mechanics know how to work on every brand of car. Some cars are simply harder or easier to fix than others because of their different setups.

How do you know if you have found a good mechanic? Well, does the mechanic give you options to choose from that will save you money? This is a sure sign of an honest mechanic. Will they let you watch while they work? Good mechanics are not afraid to let you sit nearby to see the quality and speed at which they work. Are they friendly, helpful and not irritated by your questions? A good mechanic typically has enthusiasm and excitement towards educating their customers about their cars through basic and unsophisticated explanations.

Finally, a good mechanic is only useful if they are easily available when needed.