By on December 2, 2016

mechanic vw

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations.

According to a survey conducted by AAA, most American drivers don’t trust auto repair shops in the general sense but have singled one out that they can feel they can trust. However, most of those satisfied customers are a bit older, leaving the under fifty-five crowd pulling their hair out in frustration. Around 76 percent of Baby Boomers have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust, while Millennials and Gen-Xers hover around 55 and 56 percent.

“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers — 75 million motorists in total — have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

What can be done?

Well, you can start looking for a reputable mechanic now to save yourself some big headaches later. Ask your friends and family where they go, especially if one of them already has “a guy.” AAA also has a list of approved auto repair locations on their website. However, doing your own research is invaluable. As terrible as Yelp reviewers seem to be as human-beings, they are great at revealing if an establishment is run by a psycho or not. Reviews can help you decide if you want to omit a potential shop or investigate further.

AAA recommends visiting a mechanic for an oil change or tire rotation, using it as an opportunity to talk with employees and snoop around. While it might be a little unrealistic to run a background check on every single employee, you’ll get a sense of their capabilities, credentials, equipment, and leave with a decent concept of what future service with them might be like.

Ideally, every person should learn as much about their own vehicle as possible. One of the biggest complaints from the survey was mechanics recommending unnecessary services. Anyone who takes the time to familiarize themselves with a vehicle can avoid this. Walking into a repair shop without even knowing the location of the hood release is like jumping into a boat without a paddle. You don’t need to become an automotive expert, but it might be helpful to go in knowing how long it takes to change your brake pads before a mechanic you are unfamiliar with bills you for sixteen hour of labor and sells you on a coolant flush or fresh air for your tires.

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122 Comments on “Gen Xers, Millennials Struggle to Find Trusted Mechanics...”


  • avatar
    whitworth

    People should be wary, one of the big reasons I learned auto repair for myself was because I was tired of shops trying to rip me off. Unnecessary repairs are how many keep their door opens. If you can find a reputable shop, stick with them. Avoid stealerships in general once you get past the warranty period.

    At the very least, find someone that knows something about car repair and just bounce off what the shop is telling them they need repaired. I’m amazed how often shops prey on people’s ignorance with car repair.

    The other trade that just seems to attract a huge amount of shysters is HVAC repair.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “… one of the big reasons I learned auto repair for myself was because I was tired of shops trying to rip me off.”

      Yep. One shop telling me a bad water pump was a “head gasket” and another telling me a vacuum leak was a complete HVAC failure was enough to get me to buy a toolbox and service manual.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I got to doing my own repair under similar circumstances. After being raped on a pad/rotor job for more than $600 (and this was in the late 90s I’d had enough. Ever since, I do most of my own work except for the stuff that requires a specialty tools. I have a place that I use on occasion which replaced my struts (I don’t like spring compressors) and they hit me pretty hard on that one. I think it was $1k for labor and parts to replace two suspension springs; I paid $700 on my own to buy new struts/shocks.
      Finding the best guys can be tough, but I’ve found that if you ask the guys at the parts counters and/or tow truck drivers, they seem to know who is reasonably good.
      The perpetual battle that customers think shops are ripping them off will always rage on. Customer shows up with four bald tires and they think the shop is upselling them by recommending new tires. Pads down to the backing plate, that’s fine I’ll drive it home like that. Of course bozo shops that try to sell air filters overpriced windshield wipers and PCV valves during oil changes don’t help matters.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It is tough to find a trusted shop and as zamoti pointed out, many people are flat out unreasonable when it comes to their vehicles.

        I used to know a little shop with 2 trusted “guys”. They were disgruntled stealership mechanics that left and ran their own little shop. They were great but unfortunately moved on despite good business.

        My wife and I both have been running stuff through stealerships due to both vehicles being new enough to be warrantied. Now they are off warranty the search has started.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “The other trade that just seems to attract a huge amount of shysters is HVAC repair.”

      YouTube is incredibly helpful for this, too.

      My neighbor is an incredibly nice and wealthy (read opportunity prey for scumbags) 65 year old widow who casually told me one day that she was having her relatively new air conditioning system replaced during the intense heat/humidity of this past August.

      As it turned out, it only needed a $14 capacitor. The criminal scumbag that she called during a 103 degree day was already preparing to replace her compressor, fan blade motor and fan blade for $1,800 on a barely 7 year old Bryant system when I called him to tell him he would be arrested if he dared to show up on her property.

      I had already went over to check her system out, confirmed her compressor was fine, and gotten her fan blade to spin freely for short periods, and when I investigated her unit further using YouTube, found out that the capacitor blowing out (the capacitor swells) was a hugely common problem.

      I called a buddy of mine and he sent one of his guys out and replaced her capacitor for his cost (a $14 capacitor with a GE label made in…China!) .

      She tipped the guy a hundred bucks and loves me like a son now (she actually loved me already as I helped her out with a garage door issue and sump pump issue before, along with some other things).

      The only caveat when self- diagnosing HVAC stuff is to be 100% sure the main disconnect is OFF before even attempting to touch anything (it’s not a bad idea to even shut the unit off at the breaker panel for true novices).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        p.s. I called the scumbag that quoted her $1800 and told him that if he even tried to enter her property, I’d have his a$$ arrested and then spread the word of what he did and the business name he was operating under (at least at that time) to my buddy, who let many building inspectors know.

        In a fair world, it would have been justified to waterboard his a$$ for a couple of days.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Another trick that I learned in Navy AC&R School was to clean the dirt off the A/C condenser, repaint the compressor a different color (don’t forget to shine up the inlet and outlet connections with an emery cloth) and charge ’em for a new compressor. Lots of tricks for the unaware.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You’re gonna get yourself into her will, sonny.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        DeadWeight,
        So, what are the “other things”.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I assure you that none of them involved anything remotely sexual, if that’s where you were going, and we know that’s where you were going.

          Assuming that I was not monogamous with my s/o, I had a relatively strict cut-off of around 45 years old, in terms of women I could contemplate being intimate with, and that is towards the extreme edge, as my tastes definitely skew closer towards 24-34 years of age.

          Women can delay their withering sexual appeal through a really good diet, frequent exercise, and really fine grooming and style, but there’s an absolute shelf-life when it comes to things.

          Some will call me an ageist forthese comments, yet I was pre-ordained to these preferences regarding age by evolution and other factors, most of which are factually beyond my control.

          Finally, gross.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I finished “Hand of God” on Amazon last night. A 60-year old Dana Delany has caused me to rethink these things.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          BAFO – He didn’t mention bondage, children and tight spaces so why the interest?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        RE: A/C ripoffs

        I made enough money on home repair and inspections to put a down payment on my first home. I was “the guy” that was recommended by friends. Most of my customers were people with high incomes but no knowledge of how thing work and were used to being ripped off. Once I became established I had more work than I ever thought I would get. Being trusted I was often given keys to front doors, my own alarm code and the like. I never ripped off anybody but I didn’t play haggle games either. I gave a good price and gave excellent work.

        As for car repairs, once I was ripped off a couple of times I learned how to do that, too. Having good mechanical aptitude was a blessing.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        Last year my heater went out, and after a hour of fiddling with it, the HVAC guy told me he didn’t know what was wrong, but my unit was so old they don’t make parts for it and he’d have to replace the whole thing for $8000.

        I googled a generic wiring diagram, opened the unit up and found a bad sequencer. $20 part readily available at the local HVAC supply store.

        As to car maintenance, I think the larger issue is that there are tons of kids getting trained to be technicians, but very few who stay in the field and get experience. Nobody pays for diagnosis, and nobody pays well for work. Why stay in the field if you’re just going to get pinched between customers and employers who want perfection, but don’t want to pay?

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          “Nobody pays for diagnosis, and nobody pays well for work. Why stay in the field if you’re just going to get pinched between customers and employers who want perfection, but don’t want to pay?”

          This is the real issue today. The system encourages crap work, and rewards the crap technician.

          One of the dealers I used to work for would give me a bunch of heavy diagnostic work, (since I could actually fix those cars) while the crap tech next to me received mostly easy service work. He was able to breeze through a service, because he would just change the oil and he wouldn’t check anything. A Mercedes B service is supposed to have some pretty heavy inspection checks. One time a good customer of ours came in to have her winter tires mounted. I ended up installing them and noticed that her brake pads had 1mm left. When the writer called the customer up to ask her if she wanted the brake job performed, she wanted to know why this wasn’t brought up two weeks before during her B service. Now she completely looses faith in the establishment, and thinks I’m the one trying to rip her off.

          At a big local chain that I worked at, I had an Acura come in. Someone at the dealership told her she needs brakes. She comes in, and I get the car. Pull the wheels off, and the pads all look like new. I brought the lady out, showed her her brakes, and explained that she does not need any service performed at this time. My manager flipped out on me. He said that I was supposed to sell her brakes since that’s what she thought she needed. That dirtbag was the reason I quit that job. A decision that wasn’t easy since the chain in question actually pays there techs very well, and they only do easy gravy work.

          The biggest piece of advice I can give, is to request to see the issue. If your brakes are worn, that is something that you can easily see. Same thing with your ball joints, fluid leaks, etc… For less obvious issues, try researching that issue online. You’ll likely find some photos or a video showing you what to look for.

    • 0 avatar
      rustyra24

      Toyota quoted my Brother in Law $700 dollars to change front and rear brake pads on his truck. That is an insane price for something so trivial.

      It took 2 hours to change the pads and cost about $100 dollars for the parts.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Even my “obsessed with letting the dealer do every oil change” wife allowed a friend of her family to do the brake job on her Vibe. He did it for the cost of parts and a 24 pack of his favorite beverage. (Fortunately payment due after the job was completed.)

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        The problem with that logic is that the two jobs were done to different standards. You probably used aftermarket parts, aren’t a licensed tech (so the odds of over-torqued or under-torqued or poorly assembled components goes through the roof), you don’t have liability insurance or a safe working environment, you wouldn’t know what to look for when inspecting other associated components, and you don’t have the product knowledge for that truck (there may be other issues that need to be addressed).

        I don’t doubt that the $600 saved is worth more to you than all that, but it’s still not a comparison of equal jobs.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        If you spent $100 for front and rear pads and discs, your parts are not comparable to what the dealer was selling. I’m not saying it would have happened (since it usually doesn’t) but a properly trained dealer tech would have cleaned all the mounting points, properly lubed everything, and performed an embedding procedure when complete. Front and rear brakes take me about an hour and a half, and I’ve been doing it for 12 years. It probably takes me less than 20 minutes to remove and replace all the pads and discs. It the cleaning that takes time. To quote a good instructor I had while still in school, “Any monkey can swap brake pads, say “Me mechanic” and feel very good about yourself. That doesn’t mean you performed a proper brake repair.”

    • 0 avatar
      DearS

      I think it is easier to fine a decent mechanic in the inner city.

      I bought brakes for the my car and took them to my mechanics. They said your brakes are fine after 40k miles, come back when you have a real problem. Gave them a tip.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I had one of those guys, like all private independent mechanics he was greedy, had no time for your problems, and eventually ripped me right the hell off. Today that guy is the dealership mechanics begrudgingly working on your newish car during the extended warranty period in the unlikely event that it has broken down. Pouring your money into a decaying basketcase is a recipe for failure.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Very nice piece sir, and very relateable.

  • avatar
    strafer

    I guess they don’t start out like the old days, buying cheap crap and learn to work on it as things break.
    And it’s so much easier these days, with youtube and user forums that show you what to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I think Millennials have this kind of paranoia, they are forced to work in more technical trades that require lots of time consuming college and commuting to urban areas, that car must be functional or they are fired because they are terrified to go back the barren days of 2008, they simply have no room in their life or brain for tinkering or learning about something they don’t really care about, moreover if they don’t have the money to buy a decent car or pay book prices for repairs they are leading a failing lifestyle.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        For lots of urban people (a group in which millennials are over-represented) it’s also a matter of not having anywhere to do the work. Most stratas or apartment complexes won’t permit you to work on your car on the property. I’m a licensed mechanic, and I still used to be forced to take my vehicles to a shop for lots of repairs until I left the condo life and bought a house with a garage. It was either that or find secluded parking lots and load all my tools and the parts into the trunk and hope noone came to bother me.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Clockwise to fasten, counterclockwise to loosen. Or vice versa, you’ll figure it out after owning a banger or two. Use a lemon to clean your hands, or get some decent gloves. Apart from everything being rusted shut, or being under tension, cars are not really that complicated. Oh, and also move out of the freaking cities.
    PS; in a lot of cars I have noticed there is an unread bok in the glove compartment that states what fluids it needs, how much it needs, when it needs them, and where the lightbulbs and hood-release are, and what bulbs you need, etc. It’s a very nice thing to have. It’s totally invaluable once the clock in your german car is set wrong for some reason too.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Zykotec – LOL. Too true. I was at a gas station and a lady was perplexed due to her new Chevy pickup showing a low oil light. She had the common sense to pull into a gas station and check the oil and did not believe what the minimum wage drone behind the counter told her to buy. I asked, “you got the owner’s manual?” She looked at me like I just dropped out of a spaceship but a few minutes later she reappeared with the manual. A quick trip through the manual and her answer was right there. The “drone” was completely wrong so she headed off to the Canadian Tire Centre for the proper oil.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      car forums and youtube are also very help full.

      • 0 avatar
        3XC

        Absolutely. I think youtube, if nothing else, is a godsend.

        Replaced my drum brake shoes and re-attached my parking brake. No way I’d have been able to do it without youtube. Its a video repair manual for free, more or less. I also replaced an alternator, did front brake pads (much easier than shoes), a transmission flush, and will be tackling replacing some suspension components once it warms up in late Spring. Those can wait, just an irritating squeak over bumps.

        Probably saved myself a couple grand in shop labor and overpriced parts. I buy parts online, no issues there.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        +1 to YouTube. I replaced 3 of the HVAC door actuators on my ’04 Sierra this spring which involved removing most of the dash, passenger air bag, Onstar module, ect. Never in a million years would have I figured out how to get everything apart. The job was a piece of cake with the video.

        The car/truck forums on the net are also a godsend for diagnosing and repairing things.

        • 0 avatar
          sco

          Agreed. There has never been a better time in the history of man to learn how to fix your car. On line forums exist to help in diagnosis, self-service junkyards to get parts or do some experimentation before working on your car, videos to describe nearly any process, on line suppliers to provide OEM parts to your doorstep . And yet knowledge of car repair is disappearing. Go figure

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Possible reasons: 1) shop classes are not as prevalent as they used to be. Back in the day every high school in our city had an auto shop. 2) There are fewer independent shops now. Not sure exactly why. Economics, the increased electronics? Remember when every gas station had a couple of service bays and you got your oil changes and tires from the local station? 3) Those stations employed high school age kids who practiced basic mechanics while working there. That knowledge stayed with them. Today’s generation does not get the same chance. 4) Society has changed. Replace rather than repair. How many TV or appliance repair shops are there in existence? 5) Urbanization. Those living on farms or in rural areas learned how to make do and fix things. Urban dwellers not so much. And those living in condos would not even have a place to work on their own vehicle. 6) At least in Ontario no more cheap vehicles to buy and experiment on. Even if you could get a really cheap car it would probably not pass the new safety certification and e-testing requirements. And if it did, your insurance would cost 3 to 5 times what the car cost, so you could not afford it. And if you could afford the insurance, then you could probably afford something better than a ‘beater’.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Third party indys are being slowly edged out of their livelihoods on purpose by mfgs who restrict and computerize as many maintenance items as they can to reward dealers and promote planned obsolesce.

      Dealers: All your excessive repair costs are belong to us.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m not sure if there are fewer shops; from what I’ve seen, there are a lot of one- or two-hoist shops operating out of leased industrial space and/or groups of semi-freelance mechanics sharing bays and admin space in larger facilities.

      What we’re seeing is the Uberization of yet another career.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I haven’t see this yet, where have you?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Usually the “one- or two-hoist shops” in my town are “fly by night” shops that can’t be trusted.

          Sometimes you can find good technicians at franchise shops that aren’t affiliated with dealerships. I used to get work done at a local Kal Tire HD truck shop. They did mostly commercial tractors but also did decent work on private vehicles. I used to go under by dad’s company name for discounts and later on when they had the local Ambulance maintenance contract they gave discounts to employees.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      >>Those stations employed high school age kids who practiced basic mechanics while working there.<<

      Is that even legal anymore? Seems to me most shops cant employ somebody under the age of 18.

      Back when I was in high school a few if my buddies in shop class had jobs working for fast oil change places and as dealership apprentices and it may be that I'm well out of the loop but I just don't see or hear of that anymore.

      Then again I'm not sure modern auto repair is an environment where you want to take a chance on a kid these days not only from a safety standpoint but work ethic as well. The price of failure is just too high I think and even something as technically undemanding as an oil change can cost a lot of money and expose the shop to a lot of liability.

      And frankly I'm not sure letting a coupla kids work at the local gas station doing basic stuff like oil, tires, and brakes is a good idea. I see the work that comes out of most affordable shops and it isn't particularly good since most of that stuff is low profit and predicated on high volume to make money plus training is practically nonexistent (its out there but these shops either don't want to spend the money or cant afford it – I suspect the former is at work) so bad information and short cuts become the rule of the day. Couple that with a nascent work ethic and its a recipe for disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      240SX_KAT

      There are far fewer mechanics as cars today are so much more reliable that their services aren’t required.
      Back in the days of carbs & points you brought your car in to a mechanic once or twice a year for a tune up or it stopped running.
      How many people today bring their car in for more then an oil change on a regular basis?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        In Ontario the minimum age is 14 unless working in a factory (15) or a logging operation (16).

        Only a licensed mechanic can complete a safety inspection and I believe that for shops, only a licensed mechanic can perform brake work.

        A couple of the local ‘service’ stations hired myself and a number of my friends. We pumped gas, performed oil changes, changed light bulbs, swapped, balanced and installed tires and topped up fluids that needed it. Everything else the mechanics did. However they would let us use the shop during off hours to work on our own cars.

        And it allowed us to put into practice what we learned from our auto shop class(es).

        Now I rarely do any ‘mechanical’ work on our vehicles. Had my winter wiper blades installed where I bought them as there was ‘no charge’ for this.

        But I still check under the hood regularly, check the fluids, etc and my independent mechanic allows my in the shop to look at everything before he changes it or makes recommendations.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    i do the following. it is not a solution, but it helps. i sometimes take my Toyota truck to the dealer for routine maintenance. the dealer ALWAYS finds something new to fix that i was completely unaware of. i then take the truck to my “guy” (actually guys) and tell them what the Toyota dealer suggested i fix. then i let my guys fix it if the #2 opinion is the same. the trick here is to NOT LET THE DEALER WORK ON THE VEHICLE.
    that way the dealer is not rewarded for finding stuff. also – my guys always charge 5-10% less than the identical job at the dealer. i started doing this when i noticed that the Toyota dealerships seem to find warranty things to fix just after the warranty expires. then i kept doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      The only problem with that strategy is there’s a whole lot of incentive for the 2nd mechanic to agree with the dealership that it does indeed need to be fixed (even if it doesn’t) because he can then under bid the dealer and still get to do the “unnecessary” repair.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    `Around 76 percent of Baby Boomers have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust, while Millennials and Gen-Xers hover around 55 and 56 percent`

    This may mean that Boomers are less skeptical of whomever they currently have a relationship with and/or are less skeptical in general.

    In my utterly-unscientific opinion, Boomers tend to be pretty conservative and will stick with the same guy they’ve had since forever—and are probably getting ripped off anyway but are well-off enough to not care—while Gen-Xers are cynical about everything and everyone, and Millennials will just go by what Yelp says.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      psarhjinian – That may be true in some cases but not across the board. Finding a good mechanic can be trial and error and since boomers are older, they have done their school of hard knocks.

    • 0 avatar
      mchan1

      “.. while Gen-Xers are cynical about everything and everyone…”

      Are you a Boomer?

      Gen-Xers may seem cynical, being one, because of all the Sh!t they/we had to put up with from the Baby Boomers then their spoiled brats, the Millenials!

      Gen-X… the Forgotten generation!

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Hey… lookee here:

        pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

        Good thing they ain’t got no money or they’d drive the auto market into unspeakable things!

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Yelp ratings and especially reviews are the biggest disinformation one can find. Ignorant people commenting on the stuff they have zero understanding of.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    We also struggle to find apartments that won’t evict you for working on your car in the parking lot.

    It’s a shame too, we’re living in the golden age of DIY repairs. Most common jobs for most cars have step by step repair guides with pictures and tips or youtube videos.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      +1.

      Between OBD2, the arrays of sensors in a modern car and a cheap BTOBD2 adapter and an app, it’s trivial to figure out what’s wrong with a car without requiring particularly specialized tools. The last gap to close will be storing fault-codes and runtime parameters for various vehicles in the cloud and pairing them to an app.

      It it’s perfect, but it gets you 85% of the way to the root cause, which is often enough to allow you to swap, reset or clean a problem part.

      But yeah, actually doing the work, especially in the city, is hard. It’s especially difficult given the packaging problems in a modern car. When I had a 3-Series, everything was pretty simple, but the two transverse V6s I’m dealing with now are no fun, not when many jobs are of the “first, lift the engine” variety.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Given the ease of availability of free relevant information (both in terms of reviews of mechanics and detailed diagnostic/repair instructions) I have zero sympathy for millennials who can’t either fix their car or at least find somebody to fix their car.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      It’s easy to say that, but good luck diagnosing a random no-start (or worse yet, random engine stop) that doesn’t set any codes.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Don’t need luck, we have the internet.

        I’ve had great success typing “(make) (model) (problem)” into Google.

        Usually the first few hits are model-specific discussions or a problem case, and with just a bit of reading you can see which one best matches your symptoms and circumstances. Start there, usually the guy updates with his fix and results.

        Sure, there are always occasional oddball failures. The other 98% of problems somebody has already run into, solved, and written up on the web.

        That’s probably what the mechanic is going to do anyway. May as well cut out the middleman.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I’m rolling (cleanly) in a several year old, minty fresh MB E350 now, but I did my own brakes on my previous daily driver for $150 (for all 4 wheels), which included new Akebono Pro-ACT pads (Akebono makes OEM factory pads for many European and Japanese vehicles; got a great deal on front & rear pads during a sale online @ one of the chains) and a complete bleed and brake fluid refill.

    The stealership or most shops would have charged a minimum of $450 for this. I could have put new Centric rotors on for another $85 bucks (approx) had it been necessary, which would have taken the shop price up to north of $700.

    It took me less than 2 hours working very deliberately sort of slowly.

    The rotors were in fantastic shape (some manufacturers still use great OEM quality rotors that last longer than the Chinese rotors used on most new GM vehicles).

    I’ll take the $300 in savings, especially since it was done properly, and no squealing! (proper bedding of new brake pads helps greatly).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Deadweight drives along in his MY12 in 2018… what’s this red light flashing, does it say “Warranty”?

      *smoke rises from the hood*

      Why is there smoke coming from the hood?

      *stops car, all four wheels fall off simultaneously*

      Suddenly, Deadweight laments turning in his ATS lease…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        My E class is technically has a factory MB ELW warranty b/c I bought it from good friend who works at Grand Blanc Mercedes-Benz Grand Blanc.

        It was purchased when vehicle was new through MBUSA & extends factory 4/yr 50K mile warranty to a total of 7/yr 100K miles.

        No deductible, free loaner, workplace/home pickup (if need be), and other accoutrements.

        Unless this car proves to be 100% rock solid from motor to electronics and everything in between, I’ll dump it the month before the ELW expires.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      Brake jobs are the bread and butter of dealerships and it’s almost a given they will try and sell you a brake job any time you come in, regardless if you need it or not.

      My elderly father had a new Mercedes and the stealership convinced him at like only 20k miles he needed to replace both front and rear brakes for around $1,300. My guess is the rear probably had another 6+ years of life left in them and the fronts had not even tripped the sensor that’s already pretty conservative.

      I’ve asked him to always talk to me before getting any repairs, but he’s too proud to admit he doesn’t know any better and instead would rather just actually get conned that for someone to tell him he’s getting conned.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I needed a brake job as self-confirmed.

        I have a hard and fast rule to NEVER let a stealership do any non-warranty covered work on any vehicle.

        If it’s a job I can handle, I do it. If not, it goes off to Lefty’s (Lefty is an incredibly honest and supremely competent master mechanic loves all things German and who rebuilds motors for fun, has about $100,000 in tools and two hoists in a pole-barn, and who I seriously suspect is a high function-autistic on that spectrum thing).

  • avatar
    brettc

    I was looking at the local large dealer’s “wholesale lot” which is where
    okay-ish trades that won’t easily pass state inspection end up. There were several vehicles with easy to fix problems like needing new brakes, burnt out bulbs or replacement wipers needed.

    Made me wonder how lazy these people are that they can’t replace the brakes and do the minor other things to get a fresh sticker and sell it privately for more money. But I guess a lot of people want to just dump their problem at a dealer and get into another new car and maybe don’t know a decent mechanic that won’t bend them over.

    I found a local guy that’s pretty good. He knows I do most of my own work but is honest and relatively affordable for the times I’ve needed him to do things.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    People need to understand that the basic function of the dealership is to upsell you on various things you may — or may not — need. For example, the owner’s manual typically will list two service schedules — a “normal” schedule and a “severe” schedule. But when you go to the dealer they will always try to convince you that you need to follow the “severe” schedule. The trick is to RTFM first and identify what services need to be done, based on the age and mileage of your vehicle. Then call the dealership and price out those specific services, e.g. “oil and filter change,” “cooling system flush,” “replace air filter.” Part of “dealer service” is in realty a hunt for a lot of other things they say you need, e.g. new brakes and rotors, alignment, shocks, and so on, that you may or may not need. I think alignments are unnecessary unless the vehicle is driving oddly or the tires are wearing unevenly. Brakes let you know when they need replacing; and, I think you can tell when shocks need to be replaced. It seems like on domestic vehicles shocks are good for about 50,000 miles; on foreign nameplates maybe twice that mileage.

    The service indicator on my ’08 Honda Pilot very helpfully displaces a series of number and letter codes. You look them up in the manual, and you can find out what work is associated with them.

    Much, much better than rolling in and saying, “I need the, e.g. , 48,000 mile service.” That’s like handing over your credit card.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      DC Bruce – my part of the world is hard on vehicles and therefor I always prefer the extreme service maintenance schedule. If you want warranty you tend to have to follow the most appropriate schedule.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Well, since I’ve been towing a travel trailer with the truck for probably 30,000 of the 48,000 miles on the truck, I would agree with “severe service” for the truck. Although I’m puzzled as to why brake fluid flush and replace is recommended on a 2015 truck with 48,000 miles for severe service. Inspect pads and rotors, I can understand, but fluid replace I don’t get. The other severe service items recommended — ATF fluid replacement and 4wd X-fer case lube replacement make sense. This truck has an “automatic” 4wd setting in addition to the usual 4wd/2wd/4wdlo settings.So there’s some sort of clutch in there, probably with a wet plate.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          The reason for the brake fluid replacement is that brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the atmosphere). Over time, this absorbed moisture in the brake fluid lowers its boiling point. This leads to a brake pedal that sinks to the floor when compressible gas bubbles form in your calipers and brake lines when the brakes are heated up. Driving a truck pulling a heavy trailer down a hill may be enough to cause said heating.

          Is it overkill to do it on a car that’s less than 2 years old, even with high annual mileage? Most likely. But it’s also cheap and easy to do, and the consequences of taking a risk are pretty big. Hardcore track guys bleed their brakes before every driving event. I do my Miata’s fluid every year or two, despite driving it only ~3,000 miles/year. $6 worth of fluid will get the whole car done, and it’s very little extra work once you’ve already got the car on stands and the wheels off.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think this could be a sampling issue. Remember – these younger people are leasing vehicles at ever-higher rates. They’re dealing with dealers, and don’t necessarily even need “a guy” to fix things.

    ” A total of 1,001 interviews were completed among drivers ages 18 and older.”

    Only if the survey singled out people who OWNED their cars would this be as relevant.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    My mechanic is verbally abusive and a part-time racist. But there’s also a reluctant decency about him, he’s very fair about pricing… sometimes to his detriment. And he has a natural talent for automotive mechanics that far exceeds the most any mechanic I’ve ever met.

    My point being, he’s brilliant and we don’t talk politics.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have a mechanic I trust, as millennial, and it wasn’t hard to find. I drive out of my way to give them the business, because I know they’ll do a great job. The only issue I’ve had with them is sometimes they refuse to take my money to fix something, saying it’s not needed.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I was lucky. I had a high school that had an auto shop, and I LOVED my time in there. I was also lucky enough to be coming in around the time of distributorless ignition systems and automated diagnostics, so I got to learn them all – points/condenser, electronic, and DIS – naturally aspirated / fuel-injected / direct-injected, etc.

    Of course, I live in an Urban area where a real “garage” is a luxury I can’t afford, so I’ve never used these learned skills in the real world, except to catch shady repair guys who assume I don’t know that rotors can be machined, pads have wear indicators, tires can use depth gauges and so on.

    I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to afford new cars, so I haven’t actually *needed* many services beyond the standard required maintenance. But if I ever DID, I’d be screwed. I mean, do I seriously trust yelp to find me a good independent repair shop? Trust my family, who while many of which have driven longer than I, know far less about cars than I do (and therefore are less likely to recognize a shady repair shop?). Most of them probably don’t even demand to see the work done.

    From what I can tell, unnecessary procedures tend to be the largest issue, followed by shoddy work in general (though the latter is, at least for some repairs, something you could spot). I don’t know what the solution is to the first issue other than something like TrueDelta for repairs, where a given make-model-year of car can have repair costs and frequency for a given type of repair tracked, but even this is imperfect as hell given the number of variables that I’m sure could widely affect the cost of a repair (or, indeed, the necessity of one at all).

  • avatar
    redliner

    Drive electric and welcome to the modern world. Reliability is high. Maintenance and wear items are low. If a component fails, treat it like a consumer electronic device and replace it. It’s literally not worth the hassle of diagnosing.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Hmmm… not sure I see any real difference here except for the electric motor. There are still issues that can crop up and need to be diagnosed even on an electric vehicle outside of the engine or in this case motor and dino-juice powered vehicles are pretty reliable if taken care of and repairs also tend to be of the diagnose and replace variety.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    One of my greatest life lessons: After I’d finally screwed-up the courage to tell my dad I’d bought an old British sports car (Austin-Healey 3000) and it needed transmission work, and the initial disgust left him, he told me “If you’re going to own a car like that you better learn how to work on it.” But I’m seriously lucky in that Dad was a former auto shop teacher and factory rep for Ford, and had been working on cars since he was 13–during WWII, he’s 86 now–so I essentially had a private auto shop teacher. But, he didn’t like foreign cars (esp. British).

    A few years later we rebuilt the engine and Dad kept the car to ‘break it in.’ He put 600 miles on the car in a weekend. A few years later he called to tell he’d bought–guess what?–an Austin-Healey 100 he’d found in the local classifieds. It was a limited edition model worth much more than he paid for it, and we just finished a frame-off restoration.

    To add to what others have mentioned: Spring for the factory shop manual(s). Chilton and Haynes are fine for basic maintenance, but for anything more complex–and for specifics on which fluids to use, etc.–you need the factory books.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I smell a start up opportunity. Heck there is an app to wash your car now (thewasheapp.com) so where is the “find the car guy” app?

    My neighbor who does some drag racing on the side said business at the shop they use basically died since everyone just uses YouTube to learn how to fix their own stuff. Since I starting racing my 350Z I had to learn to wrench myself as brake jobs alone would have put me in the poor house quickly. Now I attempt things myself but thankfully I have a guy that works on the wife’s Volvo. He seems very honest and always calls when he finds refurbished or aftermarket parts that will do the same job for less $$$. While fixing a clutch issue he ordered some random parts because he wasn’t 100% sure what he might find, then found the car didn’t them thus I didn’t have to pay. Hard to argue with that! Sadly I’ve spent too much time dealing with him over various random (and expensive) Volvo failures thus that car is going to be replaced soon. Given what Volvo charges I am NEVER going back to the dealership for ANY work. I had them do one of those 75K mileage checkups (oil change, inspection, etc) and they replaced the windshield wipers at a price that was nearly 3X what you find at the auto parts store. When you get a labor charge for wipers you know its a complete rip off, but I got a “free” car wash according my invoice.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    One big challenge I find as a self-repair guy is the increasingly complex electronics. OBD is no problem as it’s standardized but the proliferation of body computers is a real headache, including airbags, ABS, stability control and a raft of things as diverse as rear hatch actuator mechanisms with a fault tree several pages long. And now we’re getting into all the active safety systems.

    No surprise that independent guys are falling by the wayside, or spending enough on the technical info and are charging a lot of dough.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    My family mechanic is 70 years old, unbearably slow (it usually takes him at least 2 days to do anything, despite having access to a well-stocked shop with a hoist) and makes lots of bad excuses, but at least he’s cheap…

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Almost 30 years ago, I took two years of auto shop in high school and followed up with technical school after I graduated and spent some time working as a technician, so for the most part I can do most things on my car myself. So unless the car is under warranty, or involves something that requires special equipment (like tires) or handling (many fluids), I save the labor and do the work.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    I have three newer cars (17 Accord, 12 Mustang, 11 Focus) and an old one (88 Thunderbird) and when there is something I can’t fix due to needing some specialty tool I take the car to a local trusted mechanic. Only the Thunderbird has been to him as the other cars are/have been under warranty and have been only dealer serviced. I do most of my wrenching myself but it helps that I have a garage. My biggest worry with my mechanic is age. I’m 31 and he’s 62. I’ve been going to him since I started driving but I can’t see him working much longer. When he retires I’ll have to find a new shop, which is going to be an adventure.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    When I was in high school I joined a classic car club because that’s what you were supposed to do when you own a classic car.

    One of the guys in the club ran one of the biggest shops in town and I would take my cars there. Until I took my Nissan Sentra to him because it was constantly stalling on me at idle. I was told no problem found so I drove it about a mile and it stalled on me. I had it towed back and was told I needed a new carburetor. I took it home and sprayed the crap out of it with carb cleaner and it never stalled again. I found out later the guy admitted it just needed to be cleaned. I never went back.

    Then, I was told to bring my car to another guy in the club. I will never find another mechanic like him. Most of the time he’d only charge me for parts, and I suspect he was shorting himself even on that. It got to the point where I felt comfortable dropping my car off and saying “fix whatever needs to be.”
    He abruptly moved to Florida and I’ve never found anyone I completely trusted since.

  • avatar

    Boomers grew up at a time when cars were dramatically unreliable compared to current vehicles. For Boomers having a shop or paying for service/repairs is normal.

    Millennials have no desire to spend any maintenance money on a car, they evolved with extremely reliable cars compared to Boomers, and are astute enough to have an understanding of the various black boxes (technology) in any car.

    Under chassis work, brakes, suspension, exhaust is still the same, the reason most independent shops perform this level of work. Its useful to get a code, do a Google search, visit a forum to find the solution. Then doing the work on mostly FWD vehicles is a different challenge for most folks.

    Using after market parts, especially the no name variety comes across as a good deal up front, with poor value in the back.

    If you have an older car and for some reason prefer to keep it, and have alternate transportation too, having a friendly mechanic that you can leave the car for few days to have it repaired in a “cost efficient” fashion with aftermarket or used parts makes sense.

    Millennials have limited patience for leaving a car for a few days, finding their own alternate transportation, to save some money.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “and are astute enough to have an understanding of the various black boxes (technology) in any car.”

      I think you haven’t met Millennials.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      There is sometimes a disconnect between having an OBD reader and knowing what to do with the information. This morning, while waiting for my own repair to be finished, I was privileged to hear an exchange between my socially inept, highly competent, reasonably cheap mechanic and a millennial with a 2007 GTI.

      The customer brought his car when it failed to warm up in a reasonable period of time, its heater worked poorly, and his $20 OBD reader apparently said something about a thermostat module. The mechanic did his own scan and confirmed the code, suggested replacing the thermostat, then was told by this guy that he wasn’t sure that was really the problem.

      After an uncharacteristically calm 5 to 10 minute explanation of coolant circulation and what a thermostat actually does, the guy reluctantly agreed to the two hours book estimate to do the obvious (this GTI requires a bunch of surgery involving coolant lines, the intake manifold, and removing the alternator to get there) at half the going dealer rate for labor.

      Once he left, though, I got a 5 minute earful about what idiots some customers are. Having heard the actual exchange, it was hard to disagree.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    It’s not as easy as finding “the guy,” because people want different things from their repair shops.

    Some want “the guy” to keep them on the road as cheaply as possible consistent with some semblance of safety. Others want “the guy” to do everything just as the Platonic form of a dealer would: all OEM parts, no shortcuts, car in perfect condition at all times. And of course lots of people want something in the middle.

    And each category of people is likely to think “the guy” in another category is shady. The cheap-repair folks think the exacting mechanic is trying to rip them off with exorbitant parts prices and constant recommendations to perform additional services. The exacting folks think the cheap guy isn’t actually doing any work worthy of the name, and may even think he’s walljobbing them.

    Find a mechanic that matches your needs and wants, not one that matches someone else’s. Multiple review sites can help you figure this out, but there is also a painful period of trial and error. Right now, I’m usually happy with the indy that works on my Lexus and Acura, but sometimes I feel he’s a bit too quick to diagnose replacing various OEM parts as the solution. Going to him is not cheap, and I’m sure people think he’s ripping them off, but the job always comes back done right. Just maybe with another job also done…

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      There are a lot of new vehicle dealerships that have terribly incompetent technicians, truth be told.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Thus the reference to the Platonic form of a dealer rather than the messy reality. I owned a manual G8… I know about dealer techs having no clue about the car and being too incompetent to learn.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        A certain Ford dealership on Woodward between 11 and 12 Mile did not know how to perform an oil change on my C-Max. This was probably the first C-Max they changed the oil on, but still…

        And DW, when are we going to Vinsetta Garage? You went silent when tresmonos was in town.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I know, I know.

          December is the worst because of birthdays, Christmas and stuff, and I’m going to Colorado for the last week of December through the 3rd.

          Who will be in town in January?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You are all coming to Vegas with me in February.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Most of the TTAC staff will be here for the NAIAS. Other than that, I don’t know.

            We could always find out where some of the German automakers are having their get togethers for NAIAS and then get thrown out.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            28 — I was just in Vegas (Henderson) & Phoenix the last week of August (for work).

            We should do a really good pub (with real cask-conditioned ales) around NAIAS.

            I am working on the deal from hell right now. It’s a deal where in normal circumstances, it’d be cake, but the {insert nationality of the east here} has made even getting the other side to agree that they previously agreed (23 times over) is a daunting task.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I’m in. Who has cask-conditioned ales on a regular basis? Slow’s has them sometimes. Maybe Dragonmead or Kuhnhenn?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Mmmmmmmm, talk of beer.

            @DW

            I was there in March and will prob be back in Feb. Just cuz.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Berkley Front closed, but I’ve read good things about Dragonmead in terms of cask-conditioned beers and ales.

            I wish Hopcat in Royal Oak was open.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          @ Adam – you would think Ford would require some form of regular certification as well as required learning on new systems (maybe they do but some jackasses just rubber stamp the certs and training) but in the GT350 community there have been a coupla engine failures after the owners took the cars to the dealer for an oil change.

          The oil filter on a GT350 has a torque specification (16-18 ft/lbs) that the techs either didn’t know about or didn’t pay attention to as the required filter has a sticker on it featuring a Cobra with the torque value in standard and metric.

          Due to the nature of the 5.2 FPC an improperly installed filter – one that is just spun on hand tight and maybe given a little bit of an extra turn will vibrate loose and spew oil.

        • 0 avatar
          indi500fan

          That’s pretty lame. These guys have access to all the on-line manuals and info with latest updates.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      What you said is definitely true. I’ve seen it go both ways, and most people who aren’t terribly well versed with their cars, aren’t cognizant of this. I find that a good mechanic will clearly explain the pros and cons.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Good piece, I can definitely relate as a (reluctant to admit it) millennial. I keep threatening to put a lift in my garage so I can deal with the myriad suspension issues on my aging BMW, but until then, back to google reviews and word of mouth.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      As an owner of an E39 I can assure that a good floor jack and 4 well-made jack stands are all that you need for the bulk of suspension jobs. What you’d really want to invest into is all sorts of pullers and presses to deal with ball joints and bushings. A lift is a blessing for anything more serious, like work requiring removal of the exhaust. Or the I-6 oil pan gasket replacement.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I was doing my own scheduled servicings, ie, filter/fluid changes whilst my current vehicle under warranty.

    I found out in Australia anyone can service their vehicle under warranty ….. with the use of genuine parts except fluids. The fluids must be of the same specification dictated by the OEM.

    If you screw up you pay. If you don’t the OEM pays. The OEM must prove you incompetent. The reality is its hard to fnck up a filter/fluid change.

    Is this the case in the USA or Canada?

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Yes, but people are paranoid about it anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Nearly the same Big Al plus we have the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act that protects people if they install an aftermarket part provided it didn’t contribute to the failure.

      Well I say “protects” as a former boss used to crow – his job was to find a way to shot down as many warranty claims as possible. The guy was sometimes a little too aggressive in his job in my opinion and took advantage of a lot of ignorance both in his interpretation of the legalese in the warranty documentation and on the part of the person presenting the claim.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Raph,
        When I bought my current BT50 pickup I was living in the Northern Territory Outback, the Top End, about 360km from the nearest dealer in Darwin.

        I had a simple panel misaligment I wanted rectified. The dealer fncked me around on two occassions and wanted me to go up the 3rd time. This meant I had driven well over 2000km with no warranty action.

        I contacted Mazda Australia, complained and Mazda flew up their BT50 engineer! We got on well and had a few customary beers. He filled me in on all the ins and outs of warranty regulations and I was surprised.

        I had a Mazda bull bat fitted. It had a telescopic mount to allow the correct activation sequence of airbag deployment occurred. Excecpt the bar tended to push up and over the hood in head on situations. He devised a modification to allow the lower bar mount to shear, thus pushing the bar under the pickup. Mazda suggested I install the mod (due to my knowledge and experience) I did, this is under warranty.

        As the BT50 engineer he also tested all after market off road equipment and told me what offered the best perfomance.

        I followed his siggestion and have “built” a fantastically capable and reliable of roader.

        I did learn much from this engineer and I carried out all my own maintnance under warranty, even with Mazda providing OEM parts. This is also helpful in isolated regions when off roading.

  • avatar
    milessthomas

    Far more serious is finding a real mechanic, a diagnostician, not a dude that only has enough knowledge to keep swapping parts until the noise stops.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      +1. Finding an honest mechanic who won’t screw up the repair is reasonably easy. Finding one who finds the root of the problem on the first visit and saves you from future visits is not so easy.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Much of this is on the shops themselves of course. Went to the Volvo dealer for our regular service on an XC70 (under warranty). They say: “you need new rear brakes”. Having had two Volvos before (unknown to this dealer) we said, no thanks. Checked with a local independent Volvo specialist. “Your brakes are fine, you’ve still got X mm left and the rotors are perfect”. No charge. They will get the business when it’s due.

    That’s how you become “trusted”.

  • avatar
    AlexMcD

    I work for a retail auto parts chain in the rust belt. Most of the cars here are dangerous to drive after 10 years but everyone is out of money and making do as much as possible.

    I see people of all skill levels trying to do it themselves. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the reason is always money. If they could afford it, they would drop the car at a shop in a heartbeat.

    Local cash mechanics don’t charge much for the labor but most are just guys with some experience. They generally don’t do diagnosis, they don’t do much in the way of research or keep up with new technology. Half the time, they do good work.

    Dealerships have to pay cubic craptons of cash for the tools, training, insurance etc to retain their factory certifications. The dealerships have to pay for that somehow and warranty work doesn’t do it.

    I’m just saying unless you put the work in, you don’t really know how much needs to be done so you are easy to con. Do your homework, decide if you want to take on your project and talk to your parts supplier. They generally know the crooks from the good guys and they can usually get you pointed in the right direction if you need help with your project.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I learned back in high school to be my own “guy,” and defaulted to my brother for jobs that were beyond my skill and tool set at the time. Fast forward a decade and the situation isn’t any different. I do what I can myself, but if I can time it with a visit for other reasons (holidays and such), I’ll have my brother out in PA tackle some bigger jobs, or when I’m just feeling too lazy. The quality of work that he does surpasses most dealer techs by a mile, as well as many independent shops IMO (he refuses to use Dorman or other substandard Chinese parts unless it is literally the only option).

    Most recently, I had a good laugh at the $1900 estimate the local Toyota dealer wrote up for my fiance’s Camry making a wheel bearing noise. They said the rear calipers were dragging and needed replacement, and the front wheel bearing was bad. Turned out to be a REAR wheel bearing that was bad, and all the rear brakes needed was some cleaning up of the pad-caliper interface and some fresh pads. So $60 for pads and $130 for the rear hub assembly rather than $1200 for the rear calipers and $700 for a bearing replacement that wouldn’t have even fixed anything. When people say “I only go to the dealer for service” as some sort of selling point, I’ve learned to not take that as some sort of gold standard.

    Indie shops aren’t faultless either. My brother found that both accessory belts on my ES were the wrong size (power steering belt was slipping despite being adusted all the way out), the PO had taken the car to supposedly a “Toyota specialist” in town. To be fair at least the belts themselves were good quality Mitsuboshis. Replaced with correct sized Bandos.

    So if anyone is looking for high quality diagnostic and repair work at a fraction of dealer prices in the Central PA region, let me know!

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    I’ve learned the hard way that if you can do it yourself, do it yourself. That being said, I have one shop that I trust and will let touch my cars if I either don’t have the proper tools, or the time, or it’s just too damn cold.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I really dislike headlines that attempt to chalk things up to generational differences when 30 seconds of critical thinking presents alternative explanations that sound much better.

    Millennial and Gen X combined is a much larger segment of the population than Baby Boomers so the title should really be more like “Why MOST people don’t trust mechanics”

    There’s evidence suggesting people become more trustworthy in their senior years. Maybe we’re seeing a manifestation of that as well.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      “Millennial and Gen X combined is a much larger segment of the population than Baby Boomers so the title should really be more like “Why MOST people don’t trust mechanics””

      Indeed this.

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    As the owner of two Volvos (1996 850 and 2000 S70), I went with dealer service for probably ten years. They *always* found lots of things that “needed” work in addition to routine oil changes, etc.

    Finally, I decided to try an independent shop (Independent Volvo in Pasadena, CA) and have been deliriously happy ever since! Besides being totally honest about everything, they give me options that the dealer never would. For instance, when the ABS module died, they gave me the option of a new one from Volvo, an aftermarket one, or a rebuilt one. They gave me the price of each one and their experience with the reliability of each, leaving the choice up to me.

    When I need brake pads, they are perfectly happy to install the ones I get from IPD. If it needs work that is outside their area of expertise (California smog check, etc.), they refer me to shops that are every bit as honest and reliable. I could go on and on about how great they are, but this post would get way too long.

    It took a big leap of faith to make the switch from dealer service to an independent shop, but it was sure worth it!

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Try being GAY and look for a mechanic that is not only trustworthy, but also not prejudice to your lifestyle. It is like finding a needle in a haystack.
    I have been lucky however,living in Phoenix, most people are pretty open minded.
    Trust me when I say, I have had my share of prejudice mechanics over the years…all over the country.
    PS. I’m Gen X.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have the same mechanic for the past 15 or 20 years. Sometimes he amazes me, I dropped off my old 89 Jeep with a leaking gas tank (rock damage), he had obtained a replacement and installed it by the time I got out of work the next day.

    He knows I do some of my work, and the tough or specialized stuff I send to him. His costs are reasonable and I never try to knock down his price. On the other hand he never tries to push me into unnecessary jobs.

    It’ll be a bummer when he retires.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Regardless of the generation, it’s hard to find a good, HONEST, Competent mechanic (aka mechanical technician, as some call themselves nowadays in some areas). It’s NO different than finding a good Honest and Competent tax professional, doctor, etc… (provided that the client doesn’t have any hidden agendas like falsifying stuff to their tax professional, which some do).

    The problems:
    1. Even the ‘trusted’ ones may screw you over because of the long lasting ‘relationship’ you have. All relationships are 2 way… so one party may have tried screwing the other first.

    2. Auto shop classes are almost NON-existent now.
    Can’t find an auto mechanic shop to learn how to do auto repairs.
    Youtube is OK for the basics but buying the tools necessary is relatively Expensive!

    3. The newer vehicles have SO much technology that it makes it complex for some repairs.

    For example… when the Radio is now hooked up to the transmission/engine (for security issues), you may have some issues.

    4. When auto maker Designers Literally ‘squeeze’ the designs of the vehicles to make things more compact, it makes getting to many parts of the vehicles a damn nightmare!

    For example… if you want to replace a headlight bulb, you’ll have to disassemble Many different OTHER parts just to get to it! Utterly ridiculous as you spend MORE time figuring out what parts to take out then reassemble that has NOTHING to do with the actual repair!

    As long as the car is under warranty, go to the dealership for the repairs as it “may” be covered by warranty.

    Once the warranty ends, good luck to everyone in finding a good, HONEST, Competent mechanic!

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  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States