An auto mechanic works on a rally car at the 2...

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Automobiles are complex pieces of equipment, and they’ve become more complex with electronics. It’s the credentials that separate the good shops from the bad ones.

Do preventative maintenance

First off, just because there’s a problem with your car after taking it to the mechanic does not mean you have a bad mechanic. Give him a second shot at fixing the problem.

It’s best to find a mechanic you know and trust before you have a problem. To do this, you need to get regular maintenance on your car. That’s how you truly find a quality mechanic.

This may be oil changes and tire rotations or other ongoing recommended car maintenance.

Research your mechanic

Check out your mechanic with the Better Business Bureau or check consumer reviews on Angie’s List (pay site).

Ask about credentials and experience

ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) is a common certification, but don’t rely on this when finding a mechanic. Repair shops may display the ASE sign, but the mechanic working on your car may not be certified. ASE individually tests and certifies mechanics, not repair shops. If you have a complex problem, you may ask if there is a Master Technician who can work on your car. This person earns this title when they pass a battery of tests and meet the required experience level.

AAA Approved Auto Repair

I really like what I’ve seen from the group of mechanics and shops I’ve worked with that are AAA Approved Auto Repair in the KC area.

This program has strict standards to be accepted, and the shops undergo a thorough review. If there is a problem, it’s arbitrated by AAA. The repair shop has to agree to do what AAA’s arbitrator says, but the decision is not binding to the member. Click here for a shop locator

To give yourself ultimate peace of mind, take one more step before you bring your car to the mechanic. Do some research of the problem on your own and see what mechanics estimate the repair should cost. Repair Pal helps you break down the repairs by car type and gives you an estimate of repair costs.