How To Know A Good Mechanic From A Bad One

Many car owners can drive their cars, but not work on them. This leaves them at the mercy of finding someone they can trust to work on their car. But how to know a good mechanic from a bad one?

A Good Mechanic From A Bad One

Most shops try to convey confidence that they can take care of all your problems. You don’t have to worry about a thing. Sadly, in most cases, the worrying starts when you get that call. They let you know that the one thing you brought your car in for, has now turned into three things.

Your first concern is, did the mechanic create the additional repairs because of incompetence? Is your car on the brink of starting to fall apart? Or are you just being lied to, is there really anything wrong with your car?

Being Certified

There are those that think, how to know a good mechanic from a bad one is if they are certified. I can tell you that the certifications do not mean anything. To become ASE Certified is to study and take a test. Anyone that is a good reader can pass the test and become certified, so do not go off of that.

Certifications help with stature and advertisement, and that is about it. All the certification shows is, that you made the effort for recognition. Many roadside assist services will not include a repair shop in their shop list if there isn’t at least one certified mechanic employed there. The certification also makes a shop look important. However, that isn’t to say that you wouldn’t want a certified mechanic. Just don’t assume the being certified means they are a good mechanic.


A Good Mechanic From A Bad One


Instead of your concern being towards a certification, I would look at experience. How many years of experience does your mechanic have? If not a lot of years, what types of jobs and car types of exposure have they had? Just because your mechanic might be young, doesn’t make them a bad mechanic. Some people just have a born talent for mechanics. The question as I said, what types of repairs have they had?

Experience Charge

A really good sign on how to know a good mechanic from a bad one is how they charge. You may have some shops that want to charge really high prices because of their high level of experience. Then there are those mechanic that want to charge you for their lack of experience.

You may end up with a mechanic that doesn’t actually know how to fix your issue. If they start charging you for the extra time for them to figure it out, that isn’t right. I have never been a big fan of Flat Rate Labor, but at the same time, it can be a guide. For an example, if a car comes in needing the water pump changed. The flat rate manual may for that job on that car to take an hour. However, the engine is covered in thick grease and someone in the past has worked on it before. Some of the bolts have been rounded to where regular wrenches are not going to work. Some of the bolts would have to be treated like stripped out bolts.

In a case like this, flat rate isn’t fair to the mechanic. Because there are conditions that are causing extra work. The extra work should be fairly charged to the customer. Now, if the mechanic simply has no idea how to change the water pump. The job takes him three times longer than what the book calls for, the charge should no go to the customer. The mechanic should take the loss in time for educational purposes. If the mechanic charges the customer for the extra time in this case, then they are a bad one.  

Will Admit To Mistakes Or Not

Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. However, owning up to them is another way to know a good mechanic from a bad one. A good mechanic will admit if they messed up. They will also fix their mistake at no charge. A bad mechanic will pass blame onto the previous mechanic or even onto the customer. They will not take responsibility of their mistake.

A bad attitude like that is a good indication that they are the type to hide mistakes as well. If you ever run across a situation like that, it may be wise to take your car to another mechanic. A follow up with a fresh set of eyes could save from issues down the road.

Show Me My Old Parts

A great way to know a good mechanic from a bad one is how open they are. A good mechanic will save all your old parts. They will do this for several reasons, the first being to show you what was wrong. Secondly, it isn’t really their parts to throw away. Just because they are old worn parts, they still belong to the customer. A good mechanic will leave it up to the customer what to do with the old parts.

A bad mechanic will refuse to show you the old parts. They may be refusing because there are no old parts to show you. There are no old parts because they didn’t actually change out anything. A good mechanic will be glad to show you the old part. In fact, they love to show how, why and where the part failed. Even if you have no clue what they are saying. Bad mechanics take a resentful attitude about you even requesting to see the old part. You know they are not going to take the time to talk about it.

The Technobabble

A good mechanic will take the time and as much laymen as they can to help you understand the issue. They will be happy to answer any questions you have and explain it till you understand it. A bad mechanic or shysters as I like to call them. These guys will use a lot of technical lingo to talk above your head to confuse you. They do this to take advantage of your automotive ignorance. That way they can add a lot of time and parts that you may not even need.

If the mechanic can’t explain things to your satisfaction, take your car to someone else. A good mechanic will make it sound systematic and simple. A bad mechanic will make it sound complicated so they can tax on extra charges.

Finding More Work That It May Or May Not Need

This is an area that can get perplexed. A bad mechanic is going to create extra repairs or work. They will convince you it has to be done before they can get to the main reason you came in. Truthfully, issues like this can happen and do quite often. A good mechanic will try their best to give you the best diagnosis that covers all scenarios. Bad mechanics always give you the extra work line after they get started.


For a car that has a timing belt and it needs to be replaced. A good mechanic will provide a list for all the parts doing this kind of job. They will look at the old parts that might be able to be reused. But highly recommend going all new parts with an explanation why. Once explained, they will complete the job, charge and let you go with no surprises.

A bad mechanic will start making charges that are unjust, here is why. In order to change the timing belt on most cars. You have to remove the belts on the front of the motor first. In some cases, the water pump has to be removed. Many timing belts have a tensioner. This is part that should always be replaced with a new timing belt. A bad mechanic is going to charge you individual labor charges. They will recommend new parts, but create separate labor charges for each.

Like a charge to replace your regular belts. Then a charge to replace the water pump, and then a charge for the tensioner. This is a scam; this is one labor charge. The mechanic would already be removing and replacing these parts as part of the timing belt job. Always call around and get flat rate quotes before trusting what one garage says.

Going To Scare You Out Of Your Money

Another way to tell a good mechanic from a bad one is scare tactics. In my days of working on cars. I have had some I couldn’t in good conscious let the customer drive off in. It isn’t unheard of for a car to come into a garage that isn’t safe to be on the road.

A good mechanic will show you why your car isn’t safe to drive. They will do their best to come up with options for the customer. If the car is that bad, a good mechanic will have the customer sign a waiver.

A bad mechanic is going to use the issue to their advantage. They will use scare tactics and threats to make you feel unsafe to get in the car. They may tell you that they can’t let you leave with it until they fix it. A bad mechanic may tell you how they will have to report your car to the authorities. Any tactic to get you to pay them to make the repairs.

If a car is really that bad, the customer probably needs another car. A good mechanic will help you by either putting a band aid on the issue. Or they will drive you home until you can get a new car. A good mechanic will not threaten you. They will just give you the facts and let you decide.

Conclusion On How To Know A Good Mechanic From A Bad One

A Good Mechanic From A Bad OneIt never hurts to get a second opinion from another shop on how much time a part takes to replace. Just ask any shop what the flat rate time is. If you do not understand what the mechanic is telling you and they refuse to clarify. Take you car elsewhere.

A shop that has certified mechanics can put your mind at ease to some degree. However, a certification does not distinguish between a good and bad mechanic. It really boils down to ethics, a good mechanic has them, a bad one doesn’t.

So how to know a good one from a bad one? Follow your instincts and your gut. If you feel that extra time or parts are being added on. Or that the simple issue you felt you had, is now monumental. Go get a second opinion. Shops like Firestone believe in the Rape Method. Instead of taking care of the customer and fix the real issue. They climb all over the car with their clipboard and work a $100 repair into a few thousand-dollar repair.

Just because you do not know anything about cars, doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to be a little skeptic.

A Possible Solution

There are courses out there to learn how to work on cars. Even if you don’t want to get under a hood and do the work. It doesn’t hurt to educate yourself so that you can protect yourself. If you know a little something about working on cars. That can stop the lies and unjust charges some of these shops get away with. If you ever need someone you can trust to ask about a mechanic, Contact Me.

See below for a great and very affordable course that can teach you just what you need to know to protect your wallet from the bad mechanics.


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