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Finding a mechanic doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Identifying a great mechanic is a similar process to finding a good physician or an attorney. Seek recommendations from friends, check credentials and references, and if you can, meet the mechanic or take your vehicle in for routine maintenance to test his services before hiring him for major work.

1. Seek recommendations: One of the best ways to find an excellent mechanic is to ask friends for recommendations. Most people are happy to share their mechanic experiences with you. This is especially important if you have a unique or hard-to-service vehicle, such as an antique or vintage car, a specialized truck or an imported vehicle. While a good mechanic can probably service any type of engine, specialists often know exactly where to look to identify a particular problem, or may have unique diagnostic equipment just for that type of vehicle. Ask friends and coworkers for reputable mechanics in your neighborhood and for your particular vehicle needs.

2. Check credentials and references: You should also check credentials and references The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifies mechanics. Mechanics must pass tests in a variety of different subjects in order to achieve ASE certification. Such third-party certification gives you the reassurance that your mechanic knows a lot about vehicle repairs. While an uncertified mechanic may be a great mechanic, certification gives you additional peace of mind. In addition to checking the mechanic and shop’s certifications, you should also search online and with the Better Business Bureau to get an idea of the mechanic’s reputation. Look for reviews and any issues people have had with the shop. If all you see are glowing testimonials to the mechanic’s skills, chances are good that you’ve found a great mechanic.

3. Take your mechanic for a test run: Consider bringing your vehicle into the mechanic for an oil change, tire rotation, inspection or another routine task. You’ll get a chance to meet the mechanic, see his shop, and meet his staff. It’s a good way to get to know the mechanic before you need major repairs on your vehicle. Take your mechanic for a ‘test drive’ and bring your vehicle in for simple service before you need major repairs.

Once you’ve found a great mechanic, be sure to spread the word. After all, others helped you find him – return the favor, both for your mechanic and for other vehicle owners, and post a favorable review or comment online, or at the very least, thank him for his great service.