The best time to look for a mechanic you can trust is when your car is running just fine. The second your car breaks down, you don’t always have time to make an informed decision.
To help you avoid getting scammed the next time you take your car in for repairs, use these tips to find a good repair shop in Ontario.
1. Check out online reviews
Google and Google Maps are the best place to start your search for a mechanic in Ontario. The first repair shop that pops up will typically be the most popular, though it may not always be the best.
Just like any other business, every repair shop will have some bad reviews. But it’s best to avoid mechanics whose reviews are more bad than good.
If Google search isn’t enough, check out Angie’s List, Consumer Reports, and Cartalk.com. Each of these websites will have great information about the best mechanics in your area.
2. Ask around for recommendations
Word-of-mouth recommendations are another great way to find the best Ontario mechanics in your area. If friends and neighbors are all pointing you towards a nearby repair shop, then it’s worth a closer look.
Keep in mind, it takes time to build up a good reputation. If a relatively new repair shop doesn’t have a strong local presence yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad.
3. Make sure the mechanic is licensed in Ontario
Ontario mechanics need to be licensed in order to operate within the province. While it’s unlikely that an Ontario mechanic would be operating without a licence, it’s always a good idea to double check and consider avoiding any Ontario mechanics that aren’t properly licensed.
Going to an unlicensed mechanic isn’t just risky. It can also invalidate your car’s extended warranty. For example, GuardTree extended warranty protection is flexible; subscribers can go to any repair shop in Ontario, provided that the mechanic is licensed.
Generally, an Ontario mechanic’s licence should be posted where you can see it. If not, you can ask to see it.
You can also use an online tool like the CAA Approved Auto Repair Services (AARS) program, which identifies auto repair facilities that meet stringent CAA standards for quality service at fair prices.
4. Chat with the mechanic
Taking the time to speak to a mechanic before entrusting your vehicle to their care is a good use of your time. If you get a sense that the repair shop doesn’t have your best interests in mind, go somewhere else.
It’s always worth taking the time to find a mechanic you can build trust with over the long term.
5. Confirm that the mechanic can deal with your car
Not all mechanics are qualified to work on all cars. For example, diesel and European engines are uniquely designed and made with different parts than the average vehicle. Hence, specialized mechanics require a different set of knowledge, certifications, and equipment to work on them.
If you own a specialty car (diesel engine, European car, etc), make sure the mechanic you choose is licensed to work on it before you take it into the shop.
6. Double check the shop’s pricing for common repairs
Ideally, your mechanic’s pricing will be in line with the average costs for common car repairs. Just because a repair shop wants to charge top dollar, it doesn’t mean they’re going to offer you better service.
Double check the shop’s pricing for common repairs before you commit to an estimate or repairs. If a repair shop’s rates are shockingly expensive or suspiciously cheap, walk away.
7. Get an estimate
Once you’ve honed in on a mechanic that you’d like to work with, the final step is to get an estimate for repairs. In Ontario, a repair shop must give you a written estimate before they can charge you for repairs (unless you decline it and instead agree on a maximum amount you are willing to pay for the repair).
Although a mechanic can charge you to provide the estimate, they are required to tell you how much they will charge for it before moving ahead with the estimate.
Pro tip: If this is news to you, take some time to learn more about your rights with car repair shops here.
Provided you’re okay with paying for an estimate, going through this process is a great way to assess how the mechanic works. Are they honest, communicative, and upfront? Are the prices reasonable? Do you have a good rapport with the mechanic and repair shop staff?
If everything checks out—you’ve likely found a trustworthy Ontario mechanic. If this step raises any red flags, you can decline moving ahead with any repairs and keep searching for a mechanic that better suits your needs.
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