So you’ve typed the words into your computer “car service near me,” and you can’t make sense of all the options your search has produced. How do you sift through so much information, and how do you know you’ve made an informed choice? Choosing a mechanic can be difficult and is not a decision that you should take lightly. First off, let’s rule out independent mechanics and only look for dealers in our search. That’s the easiest place to start because if you go to an independent mechanic who works on Chevy’s—let’s say you have a Chevy for the purpose of this search—maybe twice a week, they will not be as familiar with your car as the dealer will be.
Mechanics at the dealership will use Chevy resources and training to repair your vehicle, while also taking classes to keep up on their knowledge. You won’t find that kind of specialization, generally, at the mechanic around the corner from you. There are always exceptions, of course, and that’s why this search is so important. There’s also the risk of regular maintenance being more expensive and repair times longer if they have to order parts, so it’s generally a good idea to take your car in for service at the dealer.
The question now is, how do you choose a dealer? How do you know you can trust the dealer and that they have your best interests in mind?
Check Dealer Website
This is a good place to start. Here you can get a good sense of the dealer’s business philosophy and how long they have been around. Dealerships pride themselves on their reputation, so if you find they do not have a clear business philosophy, then you might be in the wrong place. You want to know they have the stability and integrity of a solid business. It’s always a good sign if the dealership is a family-oriented business.
Being involved in the community is another plus. If you see that they mention on their website that they make an effort to give back to the community, that’s a really good sign. Another thing to look for is if you can tell they are committed to providing a good overall experience. This shows their commitment does not end once they have sold you a car, but that it extends for the lifetime of the car.
While you’re on the website, be sure to also check if they advertise extended hours. Your time is important, and you want to make sure that their hours will fit into your schedule. If they have multiple locations, that can be a bonus as well. You’ll want to make sure the dealer you choose is as convenient as possible.
Build a Long-Term Relationship
It’s important to build long-term relationships and making sure that the dealer values this as much as you is something to prioritize. Say your warranty expires and you have a serious engine issue just outside of the warranty, you’ll want to know that the dealership values loyalty. If you are loyal to the dealership, they are more likely to help you than an independent mechanic, because you have been bringing your car in for regular service.
Another thing to look for is constant turnover at the service desk. When you bring your car in, make sure to ask for the name of the person at the desk and always ask for him or her. Ideally, you want to make sure that person is not different every time. If they are, that’s generally a bad sign. If they are truly committed to providing good service, then they’ll know that good service begins with the relationship between the customer and the technician or attendant. If you see someone different every time, you will have no chance of building a relationship. You hope that they will recognize your car when you pull up and know your history. If they are not familiar with your car and past history, things might be missed that would have been obvious to someone familiar with your vehicle.
This might seem obvious, but it’s probably the most important step to take when evaluating a service center. Here you will find honest opinions about real-life experiences. Make sure that they post these reviews on their website. If a dealer is not afraid of posting their reviews on their own site, that’s a really good sign. Take some time and read through them to get a sense of the overall experience at the dealership. Did people have a good buying experience? Was the staff helpful? Do they try to create a no-pressure environment? Make note of the words used to describe the dealership—you’ll want to see words such as “professional” and “friendly.” If they make the effort of acknowledging a specific employee who was especially helpful, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Reviews are a great way to get to know the dealership before you step foot inside the service center. Note how people talk about the waiting room at the service center. You might end up spending some time there, so having a comfortable waiting room is important as well.
Ask About Warranties
Make sure the dealership guarantees their work. Do they offer a warranty on their repair work? While warranties vary by shop, be sure to ask them before taking your vehicle to have work done. Using a common repair as your guide, ask what they offer as a guarantee of their work.
Nuts and Bolts
When having work done on your car, you want to be sure you know exactly what work needs to be done and how much it will cost. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark about the condition of your vehicle. You certainly deserve to know how the repair is progressing and when it is expected to be completed. A dealership will have the model-specific know-how to give you an accurate assessment of your issue, and this should not be considered a luxury, it should be common practice at the dealership you choose.
This is all to say, do your due diligence and give a dealership near you a try. If they check out during the course of your research and come through on your first scheduled maintenance, start building a relationship, knowing you will have a service department that is tailored to your needs. They’re there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the service. What you have at a dealership is a trained staff of professionals with an immense base of knowledge about your specific make and model, who are dedicated to getting your vehicle back on the road as quickly as possible.
It’s true that dealerships do not make a lot of money on selling new cars; their bread and butter has always been their service department. You should definitely find a dealership that you can take advantage of all of the perks and incentives, the quality of service, and the amenities offered that will be hard to find elsewhere. Finding “your” mechanic, though seemingly elusive, is not as hard as you think, and once you have found a place you can trust, you can relax and know your search for a good mechanic is over.