Save money by going local!
Choosing the right garage to service your car is a serious decision. Not only do they come with different skillsets and price tags, but picking the right auto service provider can have a substantial impact on your car's lifespan. This means that picking a reputable garage is important. Multiple studies have shown that skilled garages actually cost less, both in individual service costs and long-term car health. Shady garages often feature both substandard service and additional price points designed to squeeze customers for tacked-on hidden charges. Ultimately, you stand to save a lot of money by picking the right local garage.
Repairing a car without shopping around local garages means that you'll likely have to pay for expensive brand-specific replacements. This is because inexperienced or shady garages will simply order whatever parts are listed in the manual without properly assessing what the car needs. Ultimately, it's the customer who ends up covering most of the cost of these supplies.
Skilled local mechanics know to be more proactive about the parts needed for a repair. As they do not have to follow the same strict protocols as dealerships, their foremost goal is finding the part that works best for your car. This can include generic parts, but also include refurbished or aftermarket car components as well. Multiple studies have shown no meaningful difference in quality between brand-specific car parts and their generic replacements.
Some shady garages will price their entire business model around sneaky upsells. This means that their mechanics are financially encouraged to tack on extra costs that are outside of the car's warranty or service agreement. If an individual component is damaged, it's not unheard of for these places to aggressively push for completely replacing it instead of repairing it. Some garages also hide their process behind service managers who handle the intake and estimations for repairs, which means that you may not talk to an actual mechanic. This lack of direct communication with the people who will be actually servicing your car means that it's easier for unnecessary maintenance and charges to sneak into your repair contract.
A good mechanic is local first and foremost to their customers. Most garages start from scratch and spend years building up their relationships with clients. This means that trying to tack on unscrupulous costs to their repairs can quickly lose business. Additionally, reputable local garages will have you speak directly to the person servicing your car. Doing this means you can expect more direct and honest assessments of what repairs will be needed and how much they will cost.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure that a garage is reputable. First, check if its mechanics have Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification. ASE Certification shows that the mechanics meet a certain standard of care in their practice. Additionally, go with your gut feeling. If something feels suspicious or shady, there's likely a reason for it. Above all else, make sure to communicate with any potential mechanics that you're looking to routinely use for service. Skilled mechanics will have direct answers to your questions that go beyond simply demanding that you bring your car in.
At the end of the day, local mechanics are held accountable to their communities. Good repair shops stay in business by cultivating good relationships with the people around them. This means that local mechanics can suffer pretty severe damage to their reputations by trying to tack on hidden fees or servicing cars haphazardly.